Prep Wrestling

Father, son relishing final weekend at Missouri state wrestling meet

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Feb. 15, 2018 12:01 am

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Hannibal's Derek Greening has coached numerous wrestlers at Mizzou Arena for the state championships, but he will get to coach his son, Kaleb, for the first time.

It also will be the final tournament of Kaleb's high school career.

"All the guys who have come through, they're kind of my surrogate kids," Derek said. "I've got a lot of pride for all the guys. There aren't a lot of kids who can do that, but since he's my son, it's a little more special."

It's just as special for Kaleb, who finally gets his shot to grapple for a state championship in the 145-pound bracket. He enters the Class 3A state meet on Thursday with a 34-15 record.

Kaleb missed out going to state as a junior when he lost a bubble match that put him just outside the top four finishers at district.

"That stung," Kaleb said. "It was against a kid I had beat twice earlier. I made a bad decision with 30 seconds left and lost."

That loss weighed on Kaleb the entire off season. He said it motivated him during offseason workouts and in the weight room. Having his dad as his coach gave him an edge, too.

"He just pushed me every day to get better," Kaleb said. "He never let me take breaks."

It paid off by getting becoming one of the next Pirate wrestlers to reach state.

"It's a small name in a big legacy," Kaleb said. "It's been a goal of mine since my sophomore season."

He won't be alone, either. The Pirates are sending eight wrestlers to Columbia. Tyler Leonard (126 pounds), Tyler Wilson (132), Gavin Morawitz (138), Vernell Hawkins (160), Austin Carroll (170), Jameson White (195) and Chase Kirby (220) also will compete for state titles.

"I just expect them to go out at compete," Derek said. "I just expect them to win. You'll never bet against your own kids."

Getting to see coach his son makes it more enjoyable.

"Absolutely," Derek said. "He's been saying that's his goal. He came so close last year, and he made just one mistake that cost him. It's nice to see that his hard work pays off."

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