Eagles Set To Host District Tournament This Weekend
Sullivan’s wrestling team will attempt to build on last season’s milestones when they host the Class 2 District 2 Tournament on their home mat this Saturday.
The Eagles will host the tournament for the first time ever.
Head coach Carl Lawrence said he has no concerns about the team’s ability to perform in front of a home crowd.
“I’m not worried about them being at home,” said Lawrence, who is in his first season at the program’s helm. “We’ve faced plenty of things to test us on the mental side. At the end of the day it’s just a wrestling meet.”
COVID-19 quarantines and tournament cancellations have put the Eagles about 10 matches behind their normal pace, Lawrence estimates. However, he said every other team in the state is in the same situation.
Sullivan hasn’t wrestled since the Bob Georger Classic in De Soto on Jan. 30. Their final meet of the season at Union was canceled due to the Wildcats dealing with quarantine issues.
Despite a two-week layoff, Lawrence has no concerns about the condition the Eagles will show up in this weekend.
“We had a great week of practice,” he said on Friday. “The kids are having fun and working extremely hard. We just have to fine tune some small things.”
The Eagles won two tournaments — the Bob Georger Classic and the Four Rivers Conference.
Lawrence said they will go into districts feeling confident.
“The team has proven they can win a tournament,” he said. “We should go in with a full lineup, which will help. And we’re going to come out of this with a lot of high seeds.”
Lawrence said they will spend the last few days of practice working on drills, drills and drills.
“You have to slow it down and make it perfect,” he said. “We’ll work on hand-fighting, typing up and situational wrestling.”
He’s also putting a heavy emphasis on just having fun.
“Wrestling is supposed to be about having fun,” he said. “I’ve over-emphasized that. Sometimes it’s hard to get that across.”
He said the coaching staff tries to throw in some fun activities and that he doesn’t dwell too much on losing.
“I’m not overly crazy when it comes to a loss,” he said. “Everybody loses. Nobody goes undefeated. If you don’t lose, you don’t learn.”
He feels this helps his team gain a mental edge.
“They can be athletically-gifted and I can show them any move, but their mental side has to be on point,” he said. “Having confidence is a big thing.”
This Sullivan team is young. They could have at least six freshmen take the mat in the district tournament.
Lawrence lauded how far they have come along.
“They are tough and gritty,” he said. “They don’t have the best technique, but they are in phenomenal shape. We will outwork other kids. This is a dedicated group. If they are behind in the second round, they know they can win in the third.”
Lawrence acknowledged some “chirping” by other schools prior to the season that the team would be down after losing so many prominent wrestlers to graduation.
He said the Eagles have taken it to heart.
Sullivan will be opposed by seven other schools — Affton, Owensville, St. Clair, St. Francis Borgia, St. James, St. Mary’s and Westminster Christian Academy.
The Missouri State High School Activities Association reduced the number of teams in a district and added in a sectional round, so this weekend will be just another step on the road to state.
Sullivan won the district tournament with ease last season at St. Clair, but Lawrence said this weekend’s tournament will be competitive.
“I’m not celebrating until the end,” he said.