The Hickman and Rock Bridge wrestling teams have a common theme this season: talent.
Hickman’s K.C. Pescaglia is a senior 125-pounder who is the defending state champion in that division. Vince Pescaglia is his younger brother. He is a sophomore at the 112-pound division.
Rock Bridge has junior Taylor Crane, who finished in fifth place at the 135-pound division last year and Kyle Lewis, a state qualifier at 130 pounds last season who is wrestling at 140 pounds this year.
The two schools meet tonight at Hickman.Hickman coach J.D. Coffman is hoping for a large crowd to showcase the talent in this dual.
“Being as all of our fans are going to be for Columbia, I’m just hoping we get a large crowd from both schools,” he said. “So that we can continue to develop and grow wrestling as a quality program here in town.”
While not as obvious as in football or basketball, Coffman said that there can be a home mat advantage in wrestling.
“We’ve been places that the crowd has played a big factor,” he said. “That the student body and the fans that come are very knowledgeable about the sport of wrestling and they are really loud as it should be at a sporting venue. Sometimes that can have an affect. Positive for the home team, negative for the away team.”
Despite the large crowd that will likely be on hand tonight, the participants are approaching this matchup like any other on the schedule.
“It’s not really a big deal,” Rock Bridge 119-pound junior Matt Reehl said. “People make it to be a rivalry. I don’t really look at it as that. I look at it as another team.”
171-pounder Chris Masters, Reehl’s teammate, said that wrestlers could have up to 50 matches during a season, so one dual meet against Hickman doesn’t mean as much as it would in another sport.
“It’s just another match,” Masters said. “We are going to have more. We are going to wrestle them again. We are going to see them at Districts.”
The Hickman wrestlers are looking to improve on some of their efforts from earlier this season.
“We are all trying to wrestle our best all at the same time,” 119-pound junior Jake Thornton said. “We’ll always have a few kids do their best and then a couple of kids slack but we’re looking to put it all together (against Rock Bridge).”
Both teams wrestled in tournaments over the weekend, leaving them with short turnarounds heading into this matchup. Rock Bridge coach Brook Harlan views the short layoff as a good thing for his squad because it will get them ready for what the remainder of the schedule is going to be like.
“That (the short layoff) is a good thing because that is how the majority of the year is,” Harlan said. “These guys are really going to have to get used to that. There is normally not a lot of time between.”
Harlan thinks the winner might be the team that has the most healthy wrestlers.
“It’s always a big thing with this time of year,” he said. “We’re starting to get a little bit into the winter so those guys who get sick tend to get sick right around now.”
Last season’s matchup was decided by one point, with Hickman emerging victorious. Both sides are looking to change that in this years meeting.
Masters said he is hoping that Rock Bridge can erase last year’s close loss.
“We ended on a great note (last year), but we didn’t win the dual,” he said.
145-pound Hickman senior Taylor Reynolds is looking to expanding that margin of victory.
“We only beat them by a point last year and I think we were better than that,” Reynolds said. “I think (this year) we can go out there and have a pretty convincing win.”