It wasn’t quite the ending that Rock Bridge senior Chris Masters hoped for, but Masters and the Bruins wrestling team saw their 48-18 loss to Jefferson City on Thursday night at Rock Bridge as more than just a defeat in the season’s final meet. They said they saw it as a learning tool, one to be used as the Bruins prepare for the district meet Feb. 9 and 10 in Jefferson City.
“It was an opportunity for us to look at what we need to change,” Masters said. “There’s no more chances left (for me) after senior (year) districts. There’s always something we can work on, always something we can do to get better.”
Rock Bridge coach Brook Harlan put the loss in perspective, saying that he was pleased with the effort his team gave. Many of his wrestlers fought off pin attempts, in some cases more than once in a match, before succumbing to their opponent.
“We have a week to practice, and this meet allowed us to figure out what we need to work on,” Harlan said. “It was tough for us tonight, because we had Taylor Crane out with an injury and Theo Blumenschein just coming back from injury.”
An injury in the 160-pound match might sideline freshman Lewis Heater for the district meet. Heater was in the third period of his match with the Jays’ James Stuckey when he injured his left ankle. Heater later left the gym on crutches with a bag of ice taped to the ankle.
“I definitely wanted him to have the district experience,” Harlan said. “He’s a good young wrestler in a tough weight class, but I think he could’ve gotten through. I hope he’s doing well.”
With or without Heater, the Bruins will have a tough district assignment. The Jefferson City district will include four teams ranked in the top 10 in Class 4 by missouriwrestling.com: No. 2 Fort Zumwalt West, No. 5 Blue Springs, No. 7 Jefferson City and No. 9 Hickman.
Harlan said he thinks some of his wrestlers have the chance to make it to the state tournament in two weeks at Mizzou Arena.
“I think many of our kids could go,” he said. “They know what the competition at that level will be at. Hopefully a handful or more will make it. We’ve had a lot of close matches with these guys. Chris (Masters) and Dan (Shufeldt) have been hanging close with these guys. Dan has been close to (Michael) Johnson a few times. I think he could make it out if he brings his A-game.”