The emotion Desmond Howard displayed told the story.
Howard, a Central High School senior, leaped into the arms of his coaches following his 130-pound title Saturday at the 36th annual Tiger Classic.
"I was excited," said a smiling Howard.
Howard was among two local individual champions during the rugged two-day, 17-team wrestling tournament hosted by Central at the junior high school.
Howard dominated Northwest's Andrew Angelback with a 14-6 major decision to capture Central's first individual title since 2005.
"I always wanted to win it," said Howard, a returning state qualifier who finished fourth at 125 pounds in last year's Tiger Classic. "I had a drive. I wanted it so bad."
Central coach James Brake said Howard deserved the championship.
"It's nice to see that for Desmond. He works so hard and he's so coachable," Brake said. "At home, in front of friends and family, it's something Desmond really wanted. He went out and got it."
"Last year I didn't even place. I didn't know what to expect," Hobeck said. "It put a smile on my face."
Hobeck fell one win short of qualifying for last year's state tournament, but Jackson coach Steve Wachter said Hobeck has improved considerably.
"He had a great tournament. He's wrestled well all year," Wachter said.
Added Hobeck: "I worked all summer and I guess it paid off."
Two other Jackson wrestlers lost in the finals to place second.
Junior Levi Rayburn, the 2008 Tiger Classic champion at 103 pounds, fell to Rolla's Blayne Shockley 5-3 at 119.
Junior Ryan Marble dropped an 11-0 major decision to Dan Scherer of MICDS at 171 pounds. Marble was sixth at 160 a year ago.
Jackson had eight more athletes place in the top five, led by four third-place finishers: Codi Byrd (103), Jordan Reisenbichler (112), Adam Kirchdoerfer (160) and Michael Riney (189).
Finishing fourth for the Indians were Josh Scott (130), Mitchell Hazelwood (135) and Blake Hooe (152), while Edward Englehart (heavyweight) was fifth.
Defending team champion Jackson fell a bit short of the title, finishing with 292.5 points. Ozark, a first-year tournament entry, totaled 320.5 points.
"I thought we wrestled well," said Wachter, whose squad has finished in the top four all but one year since 1990. "Ozark is really tough."
Central bettered its 10th-place performance from last year by finishing ninth with 128 points.
Heavyweight Trey Grovenor and Jawuan Howard (145) both were fourth for the Tigers.
Grovenor, third in the state a year ago and also third in the Tiger Classic, dropped a 3-2, three-overtime semifinal match to Ste. Genevieve's Jake Gegg.
"He'll be fine come February [when the state meet is held]," Brake said of Grovenor. "It's good to see this tough competition."
Also for Central, Raymond Woldvedt (160) and Kevin Flesher (171) placed fifth.
Ozark had five finalists and came away with three champions.
University City heavyweight DeMarco Kemp was the only repeat champion as he outlasted Gegg 1-0. Kemp has been the state runner-up the past two years.
1. Ozark 320.5; 2. Jackson 292.5; 3. Northwest 277; 4. Rolla 245; 5. Fort Zumwalt North 218; 6. Ste. Genevieve 196; 7. Francis Howell North 174; 8. McCluer North 163.5; 9. Cape Central 128; 10. St. Charles 121; 11. (tie) Sikeston 94, University City 94; 13. Dexter 86; 14. De Soto 77; 15. Mehlville 50; 16. MICDS 40; 17. Parkway West 21
103 -- Colton Howell (Ozark) maj. dec. Zach Nelson (Fort Zumwalt North) 18-5
112 -- Dmitry Loftis (Ozark) tech. pin. Chris Byrd (Northwest) 5:47
119 -- Blayne Shockley (Rolla) dec. Levi Rayburn (Jackson) 5-3
125 -- Cody Orr (Fort Zumwalt North) pin. Kevin Leclere (Ste. Genevieve) 4:12
130 -- Desmond Howard (Cape Central) maj. dec. Andrew Angelback (Northwest) 14-6
135 -- Chris Sanders (Rolla) pin. Dustin McClintock (Ozark) 1:59
140 --Harold Ritchie (Francis Howell North) pin. Zach Reedy (Fort Zumwalt North) 1:06
145 -- Levi Hobeck (Jackson) dec. Joel Laney (Rolla) 3-1
152 -- Zeb Spicer (Ozark) dec. Patrick Whitener (McCluer North) 4-0
160 -- Masen Ridenhour (Rolla) pin. Cody Lindsay (Ozark) :42
171 -- Dan Scherer (MICDS) maj. dec. Ryan Marble (Jackson) 11-0
189 -- Darrell Risinger (Northwest) dec. Brenton Harms (Francis Howell North) 6-3
215 -- Cody Lee (Fort Zumwalt North) pin. Trent Boyer (Rolla) 3:45
HWT -- DeMarco Kemp (University City) dec. Jake Gegg (Ste. Genevieve) 1-0