Marquette High wrestler Bobby Conn has waited all year for this weekend.
“It’s been the focus of his life,” Marquette coach Joe Wier said.
After advancing to the state championship tournament with a 36-0 record each of the past two years, Conn has yet to win a state title.
He took third his freshman year and lost 5-4 to Blue Springs South’s James Williamson in the finals last year.
Conn, 31-0, will get his third shot today as he and the rest of Missouri’s top high school wrestlers converge on Hearnes Center for the state tournament. It begins at 10 a.m. today and the finals are 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
“This is the reason why you come out for the sport,” Wier said.
Conn said competing at Hearnes Center gives the tournament a special significance.
“When you walk in there, it’s just a different atmosphere,” Conn said.
State wrestling competition improving
Wier said the improvement in the state’s talent is one of the main themes of the postseason. “The competition just gets better and better,” Wier said.
Conn (145) will compete in Class 3 and said he has worked overtime in preparation.
“Just staying after practice, more conditioning,” Conn said.
Francis Howell’s Ryan Griffin (35-4), who cruised through the field to win a title at the Sectional 3 Tournament, might be Conn’s main competition.
Although Conn has yet to win a title, several who have return.
Class 3 will feature six returning champions, including Central’s 160-pound Blake Peterson (45-0) and Christian Brothers’ 112-pound Spenser Mango (39-1.)
Park Hill is the defending Class 3 team champion.
In Class 2, Farmington might be ready to jump from second to first in the team standings. Farmington will send 10 to the tournament, including 119-pounder Travis Krause. Krause (39-2) is the defending 112-pound champion.
Other returning Class 2 champions include Helias’ 103-pound Johnny Kusick (39-1) and Kearney’s 215-pound Stephen Murray (33-2.)
Oak Grove returns three to state
Defending Class 1 team champion Oak Grove returns three of its seven state champions from last year and is considered a favorite.
Craig Honeywell (26-3) will defend his 103 title, Jimmy Jones (26-5) has moved from 119 to 125 and Ben Oglesby (28-3) has moved from 125 to 135.
Oak Grove coach Bob Glasgow said having these experienced wrestlers will aid his team’s efforts to repeat.
“It makes it much easier,” Glasgow said.
Although Glasgow is confident in his team’s chances, he said Lawson might be the best team in the class. Lawson will have 10 wrestlers competing in the tournament, two of whom are undefeated.
Derek Lampkin (37-0) is the defending 215-pound champion and Colin Brock (20-0) will compete at 140. Spencer Bain (26-1) took third place at 171 last year.