COLUMBIA — The Missouri high school state wrestling championships kicked off Thursday night in Mizzou Arena. Columbia had representatives on the mats from Rock Bridge High School, Battle High School and Fr. Tolton Regional Catholic High School.
Rock Bridge brought seven wrestlers to state, the most from any of the three Columbia area schools.
All seven of the Bruins advanced to quarterfinal wrestling Friday, including the only state champion wearing Rock Bridge green, Samuel Crane (42-2). Each Rock Bridge wrestler took his match by either a fall or a major decision, and the team is in second overall after the first day of competition with 24 points.
The team in first place, Timberland, has 28 points.
Crane dominated his first match of the night, getting a fall before the end of the first period to advance. He knew it would be an easy match for him.
“I mean, he was a four seed and I was a one seed. I kind of knew going into that, I would get after it,” Crane said.
Crane said he likes to keep constant pressure on his opponent and wear him out. Once he sees the right moment, he goes for the takedown.
“I kept my pressure until he got tired, and that’s when I usually score on them,” Crane said.
In its first year, Battle brought three wrestlers to Mizzou Arena. But the Spartans weren’t as successful as their Columbia public school counterpart.
The only Battle wrestler to advance past the first round was Chris Zachary (42-8). Zachary took a 4-2 decision in his match.
“It was good that we got one of our kids a win, but you’re always disappointed because two of our guys lost,” Battle coach Ben Smith said.
Smith said the key for Zachary moving forward is wrestling with hunger and intensity.
“That’s what we’ve talked about all year,” he said.
Earlier Thursday in the Class 1 competition, Tolton advanced two of its three wrestlers. Jaydin Clayton (35-0) and Will Tindal (31-2) won on falls.
Clayton, who is a perfect 101-0 for his career, is going for his third state wrestling title, which would be a historic mark. Clayton would be one of three wrestlers in Columbia history to claim three state titles.
The quarterfinal matches begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday at Mizzou Arena.