To experience a dreamlike end to its season, the Hickman wrestling team is cutting back on sleep.
In addition to their usual afternoon practice, the Kewpies have added a session starting at 6 a.m. in preparation for the Class 3 District 5 tournament at Francis Howell High on Saturday.
Heavyweight Luke Harper said the extra work is difficult, but it is the only way Hickman can hope to repeat as district champions.
“This is what we’ve got to do to prepare,” Harper said. “All the other teams in the state are doing it.”
Hickman will face eight other schools in the tournament, and coach Doug Black said it will be a difficult field.
“I think there could be three or four teams in the running,” Black said.
The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the sectional tournament on Feb. 14 in Jefferson City.
Although the Kewpies have a 1-8 dual record, Black said his team has a good shot in the tournament.
“Hopefully we’ll have the best weekend we’ve had so far,” Black said.
Harper said a title is well within the team’s grasp.
“Our motto right now is to repeat,” Harper said.
Fort Zumwalt West, which Hickman defeated 146-144 last year for the district title, will be one of the top teams in the field.Harper (30-9) said the memories of last year’s tournament, in which he won the district title, could provide extra motivation for Fort Zumwalt West.
“They were pretty mad last year about the upset,” Harper said.
Harper said he will also have added incentive to perform well at districts because of his seventh-place finish in the Hickman Invitational on Jan. 24.
“I just want to come back and prove myself,” Harper said.
Black said he believes Harper will show how good he is in this tournament and those that follow.
“He’s the type of kid that could win a state title this year,” Black said.
Tony Pescaglia, who wrestles in the 112-pound weight class, is another Hickman wrestler with high postseason aspirations.
Pescaglia (32-5) won a district title last year as a freshman and said he is confident going into this year’s tournament.
“I think I can win it again,” Pescaglia said.
Black said he does not see much standing in Pescaglia’s way before the state tournament in Hearnes Center on Feb. 19 to 21.
“As long as he wrestles his match, he’ll be OK,” Black said.
Zach Arnold (24-6 at 171) also won a district title last year.
Although many Hickman wrestlers have high hopes for districts, the season has ended for one Kewpie. K.C. Pescaglia (29-8) broke his left wrist in the semifinals of the 119-pound class in the Hickman Invitational but was hopeful he could compete at districts. After talking with a doctor Wednesday, he found out that he would be unable to wrestle.
“It’s really disappointing,” K.C. Pescaglia said.