A competitive sectional and Jackson's relatively inexperienced squad could leave the Indians wrestling team with an abnormally low number of state qualifiers when the sectional meet concludes this weekend.
Jackson will compete in the Class 4 sectional at Northwest, which begins today and runs through Saturday. Central will travel to Farmington for a Class 3 sectional.
With the loss of Justin Miller for the season, the Indians have just one wrestler on their roster with state experience. Jackson did not return a state qualifier from last year, and junior Jamie Schumacher made the state meet as a freshman.
The Indians have sent at least five wrestlers to the state meet each of the past five years, with seven going in 2005 and 2006. The top four from each weight class advance to the state meet.
"It would be an incredible feat if we can get that many through," Jackson coach Steve Wachter said. "I'm hoping we can rise to the occasion."
Jackson has had plenty of success once again this season, with several wrestlers enjoying strong seasons. Schumacher, Will Perry, Blake Peiffer and Ben Wood all finished as runners-up at the SEMO Conference meet.
Peiffer, a sophomore, should have a legitimate shot at a top-four spot at 215 pounds. Peiffer is the lone Jackson wrestler ranked in the top eight in the state in his weight class according to missouriwrestling.com, coming in at No. 7. Schumacher should also be a favorite for a top-four spot.
The competition will be stiff throughout the meet.
"It's as tough as it's ever been, especially with us being a little bit of a younger team," Wachter said. "It's going to be a very, very tough sectional.
"Jamie Schumacher has a good chance to get out, as does Blake Peiffer. We have a couple of other wrestlers who have a chance. Will Perry has a seed, but he's in an extremely tough weight class. Really, everyone has a tough weight class on our team."
Tigers push for state meet
Central has three returning state qualifiers.
Seniors Tyler Yeargain, Matt Latham and Garrett New all are bidding for their third straight trips to the state meet. The Tigers have had four wrestlers qualify for the state meet each of the last two years, although Chris Griffith was unable to compete at state due to injury last year.
Central has continued to increase its state qualifiers over the years, with its eight over the past two years exceeding the five it sent the previous three years.
"At this point of the year, no one has a cakewalk," Central coach Josh Crowell said.
Yeargain is ranked No. 7 at 135 pounds in Class 3 according to missouriwrestling.com. Latham and New each should be favored to advance, and the Tigers have several other wrestlers who have had strong seasons who could get through.
"As far as the three seniors who have been there before, of course I have high expectations for them, and they have high expectations for themselves," Crowell said. "The main thing for us going in is every kid knows they have a chance if they wrestle to their capability."