More than 200 athletes representing 16 schools all have one goal.
To become the best of the best.
And the Tiger Classic wrestling tournament definitely gives them the opportunity.
As is always the case, some of the state's best wrestling programs will participate in the 27th annual Tiger Classic at Cape Central High School's Field House.
The matches begin today at 5:45 p.m. After tonight's matches, the tournament will resume Saturday at 11 with the championships to begin at 6.
"The competition is always really intense," said Central wrestling coach Josh Crowell, who is in his third year as head coach. "And if it wasn't, we wouldn't have the teams in it that we have every year.
"This thing almost runs itself. We've got so many volunteers and several people make my job so much easier."
The tournament is so popular and competitive, in fact, that there is talk of it expanding to 24 teams next year.
This year's tournament is Ste. Genevieve's to lose, Crowell said.
The defending champion Dragons, who took second place in Class 3A last year, are the team to beat again.
The Dragons return three champions from last year's Tiger Classic: Adam Vogt (125, 112 last year), Derrick Wolk (145, 140 last year) and Tyson Gegg (189).
"Ste. Gen could come in here and blow everyone away," said Crowell. "But there will be a dogfight for second."
Those schools include Jackson, Murphysboro (Ill.), which ended up second and third, respectively at the Classic last year. Northwest House Springs could make a push as well.
Jackson has a lot of talent returning from a team that took third in 4A last year, but Indians coach Steve Wachter said it will be tough duplicating last year's performance.
"We'll have to wrestle real well to do what we did last year," Wachter said. "As a team, we're not as strong as we were last year. We'll have to wrestle real strong to finish top three or four."
Some of the Indians' top contenders include Brock Howard (112), Cody Rouse (130), Ricky Feiner (140), Justin Rice (145), James Love (152), Matt Kahle (189), Seth Harrell (215) and Luke Wade (Hwt).
Howard is the only returning Classic champion for the Indians.
Feiner took second at the Classic last year and could meet Murphysboro's Colt Lee for the title again. Love also took second place last year.
Central, a year after having its first winning dual season in some time, is still taking strides as Crowell attempts to build the program.
Crowell said finishing in the top eight is a respectable goal for the Tigers, who took ninth last year and 15th in 1999.
"It's an obtainable goal," Crowell said. "We'll have some success. The way the brackets are drawn out, we've got some kids who can go through the back door and take fifth and sixth."
Crowell said he is expecting good performances from Dustin Ingram (125), Trevor Duncan (160) and Shannon Mungle (215).
Springfield-Glendale is a new addition to the Tiger Classic. It replaced Francis Howell Central.