When Saturday's district semifinals started in Korf Gymnasium, Hannibal wrestling head coach Derek Greening was hoping to get a couple of his wrestlers to qualify for state, but he got more than a couple.
"We said on the very first week that we just wanted to show continuous improvement and our kids have definitely done that. It hit its high point this weekend," he said.
Once again eight Pirates will be wrestling at the Class 3 state meet including the Pirates only returning state qualifier, Austin Carroll.
"Coming back and seeing seven more wrestlers going to state is just exciting," he said.
Add freshman Tyler Leonard to the mix, as well, who is showing no signs of nerves over who he will face at the state meet.
"I expect them to all be some of the best in the state and give me my money's worth," said the 126-pounder.
"It's just a few more matches but against better kids."
For two of the Pirates making the trip to state, the occasion is a little more special. After all, it's always nice to have family in your corner.
That is because senior 145-pounder Kaleb Greening is making his first trip to the state tournament with his dad and head coach in his corner.
"It's something we've been talking about for four years. After coming up short last year and finally (qualifying) this year feels really good," said Kaleb.
Of course, the first to congratulate Kaleb was his father and coach on Saturday.
"I just said 'Congratulations.'" remembers Derek Greening.
"I probably said it's about time that Kaleb came out but it was a neat experience."
With Kaleb guaranteed to finish his Hannibal wrestling career at state with his dad in his corner, the two realize how special the moment is.
"I think every parent hope their kids goes out at the state tournament and go down there and do something with it and I'm no different," said Derek.
Hannibal heads to Mizzou Arena later this week with the first round of the state meet beginning Thursday.
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