SIKESTON - Every year a wrestler's goal is to make the state tournament.
Three Sikeston athletes accomplished that goal this year. For Sikeston head coach Chris Hodgkiss, there is still room for more next year.
The three that the Bulldogs took this year, Cleveland Anthony, Kyle Weeks and Joe Johnson, were more than Sikeston has taken in several years.
"You've got to be happy with the three that you took," said Hodgkiss. "But you've got to look to improve that for the years to come."
Anthony and Weeks both won a match at the tournament but Johnson came away 0-2.
None of the three placed at the state tournament.
But even with the disappointing finish, Hodgkiss said for a sophomore (Weeks) and a freshman (Johnson) to be able to compete on a state-wide stage is an experience that could be valuable in their careers.
"It was good for Kyle and Joe to both go up there and get some good experience," said Hodgkiss. "Kyle won a match and he's got that underneath his belt. It wasn't how Cleveland wanted to end his career. He was really wanting to place but it just didn't work out for him. All three of them wrestled tough competition, but once you get to state that's what you expect. Every match is going to be a tough match."
The Bulldogs finished 6-4 this year in dual matches and they return plenty of talent for next year, which leaves Hodgkiss excited about the possibilities for next season.
"I'd say right now it's looking very favorable," said Hodgkiss. "But that's all going to depend on how much work they want to put in during the offseason. In wrestling it's very important during the spring and summertime to get in as many matches as possible."
With Johnson and Weeks, and senior-to-be Adam Miller, who was a state qualifier as a sophomore, Hodgkiss will have three experienced wrestlers that have competed at the state tournament.
But Hodgkiss says nobody gets a free ticket.
"Just because you've been there once doesn't mean you're guaranteed to go back," said Hodgkiss. "They're still going to have to put in a lot of hard work in order to get back there. As long as the kids put in the work that they need to then I think things look for very good for the future."