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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Six wrestlers headed to state

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Standing from left: Scotty Keenan, Kyle Weeks, lance Berry, Adam Miller, Joe Johnson and Andy Croxford.
SIKESTON - Six Sikeston Bulldog wrestlers have been gearing up for the Class 2 State Wrestling meet in Columbia this week.

The state meet is being held at the Hearnes Center on the campus of the University of Missouri Feb. 20-22.

The Bulldogs' six qualifiers, Adam Miller, Kyle Weeks, Lance Berry, Scotty Keenan, Andy Croxford and Joe Johnson, is the most Sikeston has had since 1991.

While Sikeston has been able to qualify wrestlers in the past, head coach Chris Hodgkiss is looking to take the next step and get some state placers.

"Obviously they're happy to be there, but as soon as that last round of sectionals got over, we had a little team meeting and we talked about making an impact at state," said Hodgkiss. "They still realize that there is work to be done. We've talked about it as a group and our team goal now is to finish in the top 20."

Sikeston hasn't placed in the top 20 since 1994 when Jerry Winberry, Kenny Hodgkiss and Nathan Askew all placed. The Bulldogs haven't had a wrestler place at state since Kenny Hodgkiss did in 1996.

The Bulldogs have three returning qualifiers in Miller (119 pounds), Weeks (130 pounds) and Johnson (heavyweight).

Miller, a senior, is back after qualifying as a sophomore. Weeks is a junior and Johnson is a sophomore.

"It'll help having three of them with some state experience," said Hodgkiss. "As six individuals, they've really gelled in the last week. I think that will help them a lot."

Much of the time, success in the state meet depends on the luck of the draw.

Sikeston has a couple of wrestlers with tough draws, but a couple others got good draws.

Keenan (171 pounds) will face one of the state's best when he takes on St. Charles' Mark Debrecht, with a 28-4 record.

Croxford (215) also got a tough draw as he will take on 38-3 Drew Marriott of Excelsior Springs.

Miller will take on 29-7 Shawn Werberger of Carl Junction, while Weeks will wrestle 30-15 Heath Perkey of Nevada.

Berry has a tough assignment as he will take on 29-6 Steven Nichols of Carthage.

Johnson's draw appears favorable as he will take on 10-11 freshman Ryan Hemme from Hannibal.

Here is Coach Hodgkiss' thoughts on his six qualifiers. (Individual record in parenthesis).

"He's had a great four-year career for us. I'm pretty proud of Adam just because he's the first kid I've had in my program. He was a freshman the first year I started, so I'm pretty proud of Adam's accomplishments just because he's kind of been mine these four years."

"He's not the strongest kid that you're going to find on the wrestling mat, but he's a got a mean streak to him. He's real aggressive and he's an all-around smart wrestler. He really started picking it up about halfway through his sophomore year last year. He's improved tremendously since that point and he's been getting better and better every match."

"This is Lance's first year at Sikeston, he was at Jackson the last couple of years and he transferred down. So it was good getting to know Lance over the summer and meeting him. Lance has provided a big fire for our team. He's a pretty high intense guy. He started out really well and then he went into a lull in the middle of the season. And now he's picked it up the last month, so he's picked a good time to be wrestling his best."

* Scotty Keenan, Jr. (27-13)

"Scotty didn't wrestle his freshman year because of an injury. So really he's only been back into it for the last two years. He's in a pretty tough weight class at 171, he's a pretty light 171 too. He gives up a lot of weight to some of these kids. Scotty's got a really good shot. He's real aggressive on his feet. He's done well for us the last two years after missing an entire year."

"He was a JV wrestler his freshman and sophomore year. He had some success on that level, but that doesn't automatically translate into success on the varsity level. Andy started out the year probably not wrestling as well as he would've liked to. But the more he won, the more confidence he gained. When he's got confidence, he can be dangerous, and right now he's got a lot of it. I'd say Andy's probably improved more than any kid on our team."

"Joe is a kid that brings a smile to your face. He's the kind of kid that if he sets his mind to do something, he'll just go out and do it. He's always begging me to stay after practice and lift more. He stays after practice and runs to get in shape, because he knows being a heavyweight that would be a good advantage for him. He is so strong and quick for a heavyweight. Once he gets the little bitty things down in wrestling, he's going to be very dangerous."