Although it’s early in the season, the Rock Bridge wrestling team is looking for big wins.
The Bruins will compete in the Truman Tournament this weekend, facing their first opponent at 5 tonight and wrestling again at 10 a.m. Saturday.
The Bruins are 1-0 after defeating Boonville 48-25 on Dec. 2, but they were trailing until the final three matches. A forfeit at 145, Cam Purcell’s pin at 152 and a 160-pound forfeit gave the Bruins the win.
Despite the shaky victory, coach John Kopnisky said he likes what he has seen thus far.
“The guys are doing exactly what I’m asking them to do,” Kopnisky said. “They’re doing exactly what I’m teaching and implementing everything that they’ve learned.”
Kopnisky said he understands the presence of early errors and is optimistic that they will be fixed.
“Some of the matches that they’ve lost is for stuff they don’t know yet,” Kopnisky said. “The year’s only so long, and we have to get everything into it that they need to learn. We’re slowly getting there.”
Brothers Chris and Jake Hardesty are expected to lead the Bruins. Jake Hardesty, a junior, will wrestle at 140, and Kopnisky said he is excited to see his contributions.
“Jake’s doing a great job so far this year,” Kopnisky said. “We’re expecting great things out of him.”
Chris Hardesty, a senior, made it to the sectional tournament at 130 pounds last year but lost in the third round to Mike Stewart of Francis Howell North. Chris Hardesty started this season well at 135 with a 7-5 win against Boonville’s Nathan Bright.
“Everything’s going OK so far,” Hardesty said. “I feel like I could be doing better, but it’s pretty early in the season.”
Chris Hardesty said he has high hopes for the weekend.
“I’d like to win it,” Hardesty said. “I’m going for first place.”
The Bruins will also rely on senior Erin Slate, a 170-pounder. Slate made it to the sectional tournament at 160 pounds last season, but lost in the third round to Brandon Wise of Joplin.
Slate echoed Chris Hardesty’s goals for the tournament.
“I should get first,” Slate said. “I guess we’ll see how it goes.”
Unlike his athletes, Kopnisky said he will look at the effort at the tournament more than the payoff.
“I just want these guys to wrestle hard and use the knowledge they have,” Kopnisky said. “All I ask is that they wrestle every match hard.”