Hickman wrestling coach Dan Pieper has a new belt in his collection.
The latest was added after the Kewpies girls wrestling team defeated crosstown rivals Battle and Rock Bridge in Columbia’s Battle for the Belt on Tuesday night.
“It’s great for the kids. They look forward to these duals every year,” Pieper said. “This is the first for the girls; the boys look forward to them, too, but this is a stepping stone.”
As it is the inaugural season for girls wrestling at each school, the meet was the very first Battle for the Belt and the night saw some highly competitive bouts from each school.
Hickman’s toughest opponent was Battle. Each team had sizable rosters and were able to end the night with a neck-and-neck dual.
Battle’s Taylor Reed got things going early for the Spartans by pinning Hickman’s Eden Poe in the 136-pound class.
After forfeits at the 143-, 167-, 187- and 235-pound classes, Jasmine Westendorf was able to keep Battle in the dual after pinning Hickman’s Gracie DeVenney with one second remaining in the first period of their 103-pound match.
With the dual score tied at 24, the 121-pound bout between the Kewpies’ Belle Harrell and the Spartans’ Madajah Turner proved to be the ultimate turning point.
Harrell came out on the attack and had several successful takedowns on Turner but Turner was able to fend off Harrell for the first period. It didn’t take too long into the second period for Harrell to finish the job.
Harrell pinned Turner and gave the Kewpies a 30-24 dual lead that the Kewpies never gave up.
Matches at the 126- and 131-pound classes ended in decision and even though Battle’s Emma Tatlow edged out Sophie Pinkstaff, the damage had already been done and Hickman claimed its belt after a 33-27 victory over Battle.
Battle did nab a win over Rock Bridge 36-3, but that came with five forfeits and only one match victory over the Bruins.
Rock Bridge’s wrestling team boasts only two wrestlers that couldn’t come up with dual victories but its members showed no quit despite being outnumbered by both Hickman and Battle.
The Bruins’ Anna Stephens went undefeated on the night in the 126-pound class after beating Battle’s Amara Richert in a hard-fought 10-9 decision. Stephens put an exclamation point on her individual night by pinning Pinkstaff early on in their matchup.
Stephens was the only blemish for Hickman’s lineup after the Bruins fell to the Kewpies 49-6 in their dual.
Rock Bridge’s Paige Hensley had a tougher go-around for the Bruins at the 131-pound class. Turner won by fall over Hensley in the second period of their bout and Hickman’s Danya Kassam started an undefeated night of her own by pinning Hensley.
Hickman left Tuesday night with a belt to show for its effort, but the Battle for the Belt could turn into an annual classic if the sport continues to grow for the three schools.
“I think it’s very important for the girls to have their own night to be recognized,” Pieper said. “We ought to continue to have the girls dual between the three schools to pass that around. It’s only going to give the kids more recognition and maybe more kids out.”
Hickman continues its season with a matchup Friday at home against Jefferson City. Battle will also be back at home on Jan. 22 against Timberland. Rock Bridge will travel to compete next at the Thrasher Wrestling Invitational on Jan. 25.
Supervising editor is Theo DeRosa.