COLUMBIA -- Sikeston's wrestling team is sending one senior, a sophomore and one freshman to the state meet tomorrow, with hopes that all three can place in their respective weight classes.
The event will take place at the Hearnes Center in Columbia Thursday through Friday.
Sikeston state qualifiers this year are Cleveland Anthony, Kyle Weeks and Joe Johnson.
Each weight class consists of the top 16 wrestlers from around the state. The top six in each division earn All-State honors, something Sikeston head coach Chris Hodgkiss feels his three qualifiers can accomplish this weekend.
"It's not going to be easy, but with the work they have put in and the competition they've wrestled, it's possible for all three of them (to place)," said Hodgkiss. "We're not going to be just happy to be there. We're going up there to win some medals and to place as high as we can."
Here is a look at all three Sikeston qualifiers:
Anthony is looking to end his outstanding high school wrestling career on a high note with a strong showing in the 130-pound class.
"I'm pleased to make it," said Anthony. "I figured all season that I was going to do it. Now I just have to prepare myself physically and mentally for placing."
The senior currently holds the school record for career takedowns (243) and enters the state meet with a record of 30-11. He also qualified for state as a sophomore.
"I think having experience at state will help," said Anthony.
"I've wrestled in front of thousands of people before. At state, you are wrestling a higher level of competition and the officials are better. It's going to take all that we have practiced on all year in the wrestling room. If I don't place, I would consider it a disappointment."
Anthony is currently ranked No. 9 in the state for his weight. He qualified for state with a fourth-place finish in the sectional round.
In the first round, Anthony will square off with Helias junior Matt Chinn (36-3).
"I've got a really tough match in the first round," said Anthony. "But if I can get past that, I feel I can make my way back to the placing rounds."
Farmington's James Faulkner is ranked No. 1 at 130 with a record of 40-2.
Weeks will compete in the 125-pound class. The sophomore qualified for state by taking fourth in the sectional meet.
He is currently ranked No. 9 for his weight in the state and has compiled a record of 30-9.
"At first, it was my goal to just make it through and get to state," said Weeks. "Now we're setting them a little higher. I hope to get in the top six."
Weeks will face Excelsior Springs junior Trent Lowry (30-12) in the first round.
"My first match will be a pretty tough match," explained Weeks. "But if I can win that, my second one should be a little easier. If I win that I can place in the top six."
Weeks was drawn to wrestling for its individual accountability.
"I like the hard work and what it requires of each individual as a person," said Weeks. "It's you out there on your own, so there's nobody else to blame but yourself."
Ste. Genevieve senior Adam Vogt is the top-ranked 125-pound wrestler in the state with a record of 35-5.
Freshman Joe Johnson is the biggest surprise, reaching the state meet after placing third in the sectional round.
"I really expected it out of Cleveland and Kyle, but Joe was a pleasant surprise," said Hodgkiss. "Being a freshman and a heavyweight, qualifying for state really shows how far he has come this year."
Johnson enters the state meet with a personal record of 21-18. He will face Marshall junior B.J. Coslet (29-8) in the first round.
"I took up wrestling to help me get ready for football," explained Johnson. "I really didn't expect to (qualify for state) at the beginning of the season."
Farmington's Jarred Bonnell is the top-ranked heavyweight in the state with a record of 43-0.
As a team, Sikeston went 6-4 this year and won three tournaments.
"We met most of our team goals this year," said Hodgkiss. "We wanted to be 6-4, and we accomplished that. We had goals to place in tournaments, and for the most part, we did all of that."
Considering two of this year's state qualifiers are underclassmen, Sikeston's wrestling future appears to be bright.
"You know you're going to have those guys for the next three or four years," said Hodgkiss. "Plus having guys like that in your room infects everybody else with the winning disease too. You want leaders like that on your team. I'm looking forward to next year."