It might have been a long road to the wrestling team’s first victory, but Hickman will not have to travel far for its next challenge.
After earning their first dual victory of the season on Tuesday, the Kewpies will host the Hickman Invitational Tournament this weekend. Matches will begin at 5 p.m. today and continue at 9 a.m. Saturday. The 12-team tournament will include Rock Bridge and schools from as far away as Kansas.
Junior Luke Harper said the Kewpies are confident after defeating Marshall for their first win. Before then, Hickman had lost seven matches.
“It’s definitely boosted everybody’s spirits to get a win, finally,” Harper said.
Harper also said the tournament will hold special significance for the team’s most experienced members.
“All the seniors are going to be motivated because it’s our last tournament at home,” Harper said.
Hickman coach Doug Black said Jefferson City and Oakville will present a challenge.
Jefferson City beat Hickman 59-9 in a dual Jan. 13, and Oakville won the Hickman Invitational last season with 199.5 points.
Black, though, said he has high expectations.
“I think we could finish in the top three of our tournament,” Black said. “That would be a pretty good weekend.”
Black said the heavyweight, 119- and 112-pound weight classes, where the Kewpies are strong, should be hotly contested.
Harper, a heavyweight who was second at the Vianney Tournament on Jan. 10 in St. Louis, pinned his opponent Tuesday. Harper said he is looking forward to the high-level competition.
“To get better, you have to go against the best,” Harper said.
Freshman K.C. Pescaglia will wrestle at 119 for Hickman, even though he weighs 4 to 5 pounds less than that.
“He’s a little, little 119-pounder,” Black said. “He’s at a significant disadvantage every night.”
Despite that, Pescaglia began the season 3-0, and Black said he has been solid all year.
K.C. Pescaglia’s brother, Tony Pescaglia, a sophomore who will wrestle at 112, won the tournament’s 103-pound title last year.
Tony Pescaglia said he believes his changing weight classes will not lead to a change in results.
“I think I’m going to win this tournament,” Pescaglia said.
Tony Pescaglia finished 6-1 at the Missouri Duals in Jefferson City in December and was second at the Vianney tournament.
Junior Zach Arnold, who wrestles at 171, will be another Kewpie wrestler to watch. Arnold won against Marshall and at the Vianney tournament.
Tony Pescaglia said he believes his team will put on an inspired performance in its home gym.
“We love this tournament,” Pescaglia said. “We really take pride in it.”