ST. CHARLES — Although the Hickman wrestling team failed in its attempt to repeat as district champion Saturday, several wrestlers created new opportunities for themselves.
Six Hickman and three Rock Bridge wrestlers advanced to sectional tournament at Jefferson City by finishing in the top four in their weight class, and Hickman’s Tony Pescaglia (112) and Zach Arnold (171) won district titles. Three Kewpies and one Bruin qualified for the sectional tournament for the first time.
Despite that individual success, the Kewpies finished fourth of nine teams with 105 points. Rock Bridge finished ninth with 46 points.
Fort Zumwalt West, which Hickman defeated by four points to take the district title last season, won the tournament with 228 points and won seven of 14 weight classes.
Hickman coach Doug Black said his team will need to improve if it hopes to earn a high finish in Jefferson City.
“We need to perform better than we did today,” Black said.
Pescaglia, a sophomore who has two district titles, said the sectional tournament will be more challenging.
“It’s a step up,” Pescaglia said.
Although Pescaglia and Arnold were expected to do well, the success of Tony Accurso and Kevin Croom came as a surprise to the Kewpies.
Accurso (160), who came into the tournament 18-12, finished second to Fort Zumwalt West’s Justin Meyerpeter. Accurso pinned Rock Bridge’s Blair Wilson in the semifinals.
Croom (130) also finished second despite being ranked fourth in his class and not placing at the district tournament last year.
Although Croom did not earn a title, Black said he was one of Hickman’s highlights.
“Croom did an excellent job,” Black said.
Heavyweight Luke Harper also advanced to the finals, but lost 3-2 to Francis Howell’s Nathan Crossett.
Jordan Lanham (103) placed third in his class to become the sixth Kewpie to advance to the sectional tournament.
Although some of Hickman’s advancing wrestlers do not have experience beyond the district tournament, Black said he is not worried about them.
“It’s just another tournament,” Black said.Rock Bridge’s Will Martin (160), Erin Slate (171) and Cam Purcell (152) finished third.
Although Martin said the Bruins are excited about the wrestlers who advanced, they were expecting more to join them.
“That’s was kind of disappointing,” Martin said.
The Bruins’ Dustin Noel (103) did not advance despite earlier in the season pinning two wrestlers who did.
Senior Chris Hardesty (135), who advanced to the sectional tournament last year, lost both of his matches.
Although his goals for the team were not met, Martin said the opportunity he has to qualify for the state tournament is exciting.
“That’s been my goal all year,” Martin said.
The top four finishers in each weight class at the sectional tournament advance to the state tournament Feb. 19-21 at Hearnes Center.