Wins worth the wait

Friday, February 18, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:38 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Twelve hours and 43 minutes is a long time to wait.

Hickman’s Zach Arnold woke up at 7:30 a.m. and didn’t get to wrestle until 8:18 p.m.

The long wait made for a sluggish 4-3 first-round win Thursday at the MSHSAA State Championships at Hearnes Center. Arnold, who earned third place at the meet last season, said it was a match he would rather forget.

Arnold was tied at three with Francis Howell North senior David Nicholas with 32 seconds left in the 189-pound match. Nicholas decided to let Arnold escape, giving Arnold a one-point advantage. But Nicholas (15-19) failed to takedown Arnold (42-6) before time ran out.

“It was a lot closer than I hoped it would be,” Arnold said. “I didn’t go out there and wrestle a good match.

“It’s been about four hours since I weighed in. You get pretty tired waiting around. I’m going to go home and forget about today since I can’t do anything about it now.”

Hickman junior Tony Pescaglia also sat through a long wait before wrestling his 119-pound match. Pescaglia (35-4) pinned Hazelwood Central’s Sean Mead (41-2) in 2 minutes, 36 seconds.

“The first day is always hardest for me because you have a whole day to just wait around,” Pescaglia said. “Your nerves have time to get to you, but I had wrestled him before so I was comfortable out there.”

The 119-pound division held the night’s biggest drama.

Previously undefeated 119-pounder Erik Warner of Fort. Zumwalt West, who defeated Pescaglia Saturday in the district final, suffered a serious head injury in his first-round match.

Less than a minute into the first period, Warner tried to take down McCluer North’s Ademasse Asmare and their heads collided and they fell to the mat.

Warner suffered a cut on the top of his head and was taken to University Hospital in fear he had suffered a concussion.

Asmare was awarded the victory by injury default.

Medical personnel carted Warner off to a standing ovation as five other matches were in progress, including Pescaglia’s brother K.C.’s 125-pound contest against Kris Kuhn of Park Hill South.

K.C. Pescaglia (38-2) was not affected, though, beating Kuhn (25-11) 5-0.

“It was pretty weird, K.C. Pescaglia said. “I knew something was going on with all the clapping, but not what. But I’m in a zone out there and it didn’t bother me.”

In his first state tournament match, K.C. Pescaglia nearly earned a pin in the second period to match his brother, but Kuhn escaped.

“He was really strong and I couldn’t hold him down,” K.C. Pescaglia said.

Rock Bridge 103-pounder Justin Davis didn’t have as long a wait to begin his state tournament. He wrestled in the second match of the Class 4 session. The result prolonged his day, though.

Davis (34-8) lost by fall with nine seconds left in the third period after trailing Scott Biggerstaff (37-6) of Lee’s Summit North 3-0. By losing his first match, Davis had to wrestle again in the first-round wrestlebacks, 110 matches later.

“The biggest thing was just getting over (the loss),” Kopnisky said. “He was kind of a deer caught in the headlights coming in here and seeing all these people.

Davis wrestled Christian Brothers College’s John Goerger (25-14) in the wrestlebacks and never seemed comfortable. He injured his ribs in a dual against Kirksville on Feb. 1 and came into this match with tape wrapped around his upper torso. Davis struggled through the match, used an injury time after the second period and came away with a 2-1 win in double overtime.

“That was huge,” Kopnisky said. “He understands that this is it for the season, and he’s doing everything he can to gut through it. ”

Rock Bridge’s other qualifier, senior 171-pounder Cam Purcell (31-10), wrestled senior Matt Tumbrink (27-9) of Marquette in the first round. After trailing 2-0 in the second period, Purcell came back with five unanswered points and then won by fall at 5:01.

“I went in thinking it was going to be a close match,” Purcell said, “and I broke him mentally and put him on his back.”

Class 4 wrestlers won’t have to wait as long Friday. Quarterfinals and second-round wrestlebacks begin at 1:15 p.m.

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