By JOSH RIZZOHerald-Whig Sports Writer
HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Kyle Muehring gets to see his "Goliath" every time he steps into the kitchen. Hanging on the fridge is a picture Kyle's father took of him shaking hands with his so-called Goliath.
Not that the 220-pound Hannibal sophomore wrestler needs a reminder of Willard's Christian Adams. Muehring's thoughts many times have wondered back to their Class 3 state quarterfinal match last February at the Mizzou Arena.
In the second period, Adams slammed Muehring and he landed on his neck, out of bounds and onto the leg of a wrestler on the next mat.
Muehring finished the match, a 21-10 major decision loss, but didn't feel right afterward.
"After I finished the match, I started heading back to the seats, and I noticed I wasn't quite there," Muehring said. "They had the trainers look at me. They wanted me to get checked out and I went to the hospital. I had a concussion. It really sucked because (Hannibal's coaches) said if I wasn't going to make it to the finals, I was going to at least take third. I was having a good season for a freshman."
Muehring's season was over. After he was diagnosed with a concussion, Muehring was forced to forfeit his consolation semifinal match and his freshman season ended at 41-9.
"It was a concussion, but we were also worried about his ribs and neck," Pirates coach Derek Greening said. "It wasn't worth the risk. He was upset, of course. You work hard all year to achieve that success, and you don't get to have it."
Since the outset this season, Muehring has been dialed in on a return to the state tournament. Muehring's quest will start Friday when Hannibal heads to the Class 3, District 2 tournament at Westminster Christian Academy.
For Muehring to improve, he needed to find someone to push him. Before a broken fibula sidelined Pirates senior heavyweight Jake Borgmeyer, who finished third in Class 3 at 285 last season, Muehring had the perfect practice partner. Borgmeyer never let up.
"Kyle works. If you push Kyle, he'll definitely respond and come after you," Borgmeyer said. "I would wrestle hard against him, I wouldn't take it easy. If I saw him start to break down, I'd push that much harder and make him respond."
After Borgmeyer's injury at the Lafayette Tournament in late January, Muehring started to train with Brant Dooley. And Borgmeyer was still there to provide motivation.
"He's a big boy. We used to go at it in the wrestling room. He pushes me and didn't cut me any slack," Muehring said. "After he got hurt at Lafayette earlier in the year, to tell you the truth I didn't think he would be at practice any more. He came in to support me and said ‘I ain't going to give you no slack.' He kept riding me."f
The help from his teammates and relentless offseason work has led to a 37-6 start to the season for Muehring and a No. 4 ranking on Missouriwrestling.com. His technique makes it difficult for others in his weight class to stay with him.
"Kyle has tremendous hips," Greening said. "That's something that you can't teach a kid. He has natural hips. When he moves like he can, it's very hard for any big guy to follow him."
Muehring also has served an important role by helping his teammates stay loose. Often at tournaments, he knows what to say to help take the edge off.
"He likes to make jokes and to poke fun. He doesn't tease me. He knows better than to do that," Borgmeyer joked, adding that he and Muehring "make jokes about that all the time, ‘Why'd you get thrown or caught or stacked or something like that?' You have to have that because wrestling's such an intense sport. You have a little comic relief in there to get through the seasons."
After finishing third at districts and falling short of medaling at state, Muehring is ready to take on another Goliath.
Adams has graduated, but Muehring won't have a hard time finding another challenge.
"This is my plan. I plan on taking districts this week and going into state," Muehring said. "I want to be seeded No. 1 and hopefully finish No. 1 at state. I just need to give it my all and put what I have out on the mat."