Drae Cox watched as his mother, Cathie, sang the national anthem before Hickman wrestling’s season-opening dual against Kirksville Tuesday night at Hickman. After Mom hit the last note, the Kewpies’ starter at 152 pounds greeted her with a big smile and a hug.
From that point on, though, Drae Cox was all business.
While the rest of his teammates watched the first three matches of the dual, and cheered victories by the Kewpies’ Jordan Lanham and Taylor Reynolds, Cox was off to the side alone, wearing headphones and pacing anxiously.
“That’s visualization,” he said. “I separate myself from what’s going on to get ready for my match.”
Cox was certainly ready, dominating Kirksville’s Tim Kearns and picking up a 23-10 victory to earn five points for Hickman.
“It could have gone better,” Cox said of the match. “I did all right. I’ve got a little bit of work to do, but it’s a good start.”
Cox was a captain last year as a sophomore, and said he would like to be one again this year. Despite being on a roster filled with seniors, Hickman coach J.D. Coffman said he will look to Cox as a leader.
Hickman went on to a commanding 53-18 victory. Six Kewpies won by pin, while just one, Will Brumit, was pinned by his Kirksville opponent.
After saying prior to the dual that he expected a close match, Coffman was pleasantly surprised by his team’s dominance.
“We’re really pleased with the way things turned out tonight,” he said. “I told the team before the match that we were going to have to get pins as much as possible, to get those six points, and not give up pins, and we did a good job of doing that.”
Coffman said the match at 171 pounds, where Ian Reed got an unexpected start and pinned Kirksville’s Josh Harrington, along with Spencer McGowan’s pin at 285 pounds were keys to the dual. K.C. and Vince Pescaglia, and Aaron Brady also picked up pins for Hickman.
“We have some quality kids that are coming back, and have really put in the hard work over the summer to make themselves better in the weight room and on the mat,” Coffman said. “It shows with the way their intensity level is, and the way they’re coming out wrestling.”
Coffman said that his team struggled a bit at wrestling off the bottom in the dual, and said that was something they would work on at practice before Thursday’s dual at Hannibal.
Meanwhile, Cox said he will work hard at practice to try to improve all-around. After coming within one win of qualifying for the state tournament last year, he has plenty of motivation.
“I use it as a striver to do better,” he said. “But, I don’t focus on the loss. I am just ready to start over and get things going this year.”
As to who was the better performer in the Cox family Tuesday night, himself or his mother, Drae Cox just laughed.
“I’ll leave that up to you to decide,” he said.