Wrestlers place eighth at state tournament

Wrestlers place eighth at state tournament

Jack Schoelz

Taking down his opponent: Senior Trent Johnson wrestles in the 145-pound weight class. He placed fourth overall at the state championships Saturday. Photo by Muhammad Al-Rawi.

As sophomore Sam Crane waited in the tunnel at Mizzou Arena before the final round of the 132-weight class Missouri State High School Athletic Association state wrestling championships, he felt ready to accomplish the goal that had eluded him the previous year.

“Coming into my freshman year, I had a goal of winning state,” Crane said. “Freshman year I came up one match short, and then after that I just kept working out throughout the spring and summer, working as hard as I could to get a state title. I was just thinking in my mind that this is my year to win it, and I just had to go out there, think positive and come up with a win.”

Crane won the bout over two-time state runner up Russell Coleman of Park Hill and led the Bruins to an eighth place team finish in the state tournament, a three place jump from their showing in 2011.

This season marked the latest move in a rising wrestling program. In 2009 the team placed 48th at state with a single qualifier, and in 2010 it fared slightly better with a 32nd place finish with four qualifiers.

This year the Bruins qualified six wrestlers for the state tournament, with sophomores Jason Kiehne and Cody Maly making their first state appearances. But with four wrestlers being eliminated before having a chance to place in the top six in their weight class —senior Harry Schauwecker, sophomore Quinn Smith, Kiehne and Maly — Schauwecker said the team should have placed even higher at state. But head coach Travis Craig said he wasn’t disappointed.

“You just know that it’s going to be a hard tournament, and you’re going to lose some matches you could win,” Craig said. “It was a good tournament. Eighth place was good placement for us. We could have done better, but you can always do better.”

With four state qualifiers returning for next season and a sophomore class of 19 — by far the biggest on the team, Schauwecker said the program will only get better.

“What our head coach has been telling us since we were sophomores is that we were the building blocks for what was going to become a very good team, and that’s very true,” Schauwecker said. “With all the young guys, they’re going to be building an even better team, and they’re going to do even better next year.”

The team shined at the district tournament, placing fifth overall. Crane said this feat was impressive, considering eight out of the 14 teams in RBHS’ district placed in the top 11 at state.

But the improvement didn’t come easily. Each member of the squad put in extra time training since this time last year. To prepare for the state tournament, Crane trained with his older brother and assistant coach Taylor Crane during additional practices three to four times each week. Schauwecker said they had simple incentive.

“Just the idea of how good we could be” motivated them to train, Schauwecker said. “We were ranked as a team almost the entire season, and, you know, that just helped motivate us to know that we should be winning a lot of matches and winning a lot of tournaments and doing well, so we just wanted to keep wrestling well.”

Crane said that drive to get better will only continue. He’s already back in the weight room to train for the summer wrestling season, and he expects his teammates to join him. He said the team already has its sights set on a new goal.

“By senior year [we want to] come out with a state team title,” Crane said. “That’s our ultimate goal, and I think if we work hard enough we can reach it.”
By Jack Schoelz