Cam Purcell, Will Martin and Erin Slate have their team behind them. Not only is it behind them, but it also is underneath them, around them and next to them.
The season goes on for only three wrestlers, but the Rock Bridge wrestling team practices every day. Purcell (152), Martin (160) and Slate (171) placed third in the Class 3 District 5 Tournament last week in St. Charles to advance to the Sectional 3 Tournament on Saturday in Jefferson City. If they place in the top four at the sectional tournament, they qualify for the state championships Feb. 19-21 at Hearnes Center.
Coach John Kopnisky said it is important for the team to continue to practice together to push those in the tournament and help them prepare.
“It’s individual, but at the same time it’s everybody else that makes (Purcell, Martin, and Slate) get to where they’re at,” Kopnisky said.
The guys agree it is helpful to have their teammates there every day motivating them and pushing them to do better.
“It’s a lot better than last year,” Slate said. “Nobody showed up after just three of us made it to sectionals.”
Said Martin: “With all of these people in the room it keeps the momentum up and helps us work out a lot harder.”
Purcell said it was nice to see seniors come out after their seasons were over.
“I helps us keep the feeling of a team,” he said.
They also know that they are going to need more than their team’s support if they want to make it past the Sectional 3 Tournament. They have started practicing twice a day.
“They drill a little bit during the day, get a couple more workouts in,” Kopnisky said. “(The practices) are not as intense but just to make sure he’s keeping in rhythm.
“I don’t want to get these guys beat up before sectionals.”
Kopnisky said he felt they had not wrestled to their potential and the extra practices would help remedy that.
Slate, Purcell and Martin also are watching film trying to learn from the mistakes they made at the district tournament.
“I know that the only match I went in with a plan at districts was my last match,” Martin said. “For sectionals, I’m going to try and concentrate more on my first couple of matches.”
Kopnisky said he feels all the hard work is going to pay off.
“This weekend they’re going to be wrestling 100 percent,” Kopnisky said.