Rock Bridge’s Chris and Jake Hardesty plan to wrestle in the state tournament. It’s a goal that has helped form a strong bond between the brothers.
Chris Hardesty, a 135-pound senior, and Jake Hardesty, a 140-pound junior, practice together every day at Rock Bridge. Outside the wrestling room, though, they usually follow different paths.
Chris Hardesty likes to spend his free time playing computer games with his friends.
“We get a bunch of people together, hook up computers, and play a huge LAN game,” he said.
Jake Hardesty likes to perform with a band. He plays drums and likes alternative rock music.
They are not letting their hobbies get in the way of their wrestling, though.
“We’re pushing each other wrestling,” Jake Hardesty said, “We’ve got the same goals. We want to make it to state.”
Coach John Kopnisky said when the Bruins compete, its clear how much one wrestler’s success means to the other.
“When Chris loses, Jake will come out and pummel his guy,” Kopnisky said. “And when Jake loses, Chris will do the same.”
Chris Hardesty agreed with his coach’s assessment. He said that he hates to see his little brother lose and likes to go out and win to get revenge.
Kopnisky expects them to do well in the District 5 Tournament on Saturday morning at Francis Howell High. The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to the sectional match Feb. 14 in Jefferson City.
“It’s one of those things.” Kopnisky said, “If they show up to wrestle, they’ll win.”
Kopnisky said he also expects seniors Erin Slate (171) and Will Martin (160) to perform well. Slate, Martin, and Chris Hardesty placed at districts last year to reach sectionals, but they didn’t qualify for the state meet.
Kopnisky expects Martin to go further this year. He said he feels that if Martin is prepared mentally as well as physically he will do well.
Although Slate missed the Bruins’ most recent match because of a skin infection, the team expects him back for the district tournament. Kopnisky said he thinks Slate will have a good chance to place.
To prepare for the tournament, Kopnisky has not made many changes in his practices.
“I don’t want to throw them a curveball.” Kopnisky said, “I don’t want to change anything. Maybe we’ll tweak a few things.”
Chris Hardesty said that he was impressed with how hard the younger guys were working in practice and noted it was an improvement over last year.
“I expect most of our guys to move on.” Jake Hardesty said, “Hopefully, get top four as a team.”