COLUMBIA, Mo. - In a lot of years, John Carter would have won the Class 4 state wrestling title at 285 pounds.
Unfortunately for the Jefferson City senior, this was not one of those years. When J'Den Cox of Hickman decided 285 was the road he wanted to take in the postseason in his bid to win his fourth state crown, it looked like everybody else was wrestling for second.
And while Carter did his best, Cox was just too quick and strong as he won by fall in 2:32 on Saturday night at Mizzou Arena.
Not that Carter was going to go down without a fight. Midway through the first period, the two tangled near the outside of the circle and Carter gave Cox a shove with a little more vigor than one usually sees.
"I was just trying to get into his head a little bit," Carter said.
Cox got a takedown to take a 2-0 lead after one period. Starting in the down position to start the second, Carter got an escape to make it 2-1.
"I wanted to be aggressive and not let him work his stuff as much as he wanted," Carter said.
About :15 into the period, Cox (56-0) scored a single-leg takedown and had Carter on his back for a few seconds before getting the win by fall.
"I tried to break out of it, but he's so strong and flexible and quick that it's tough to get away," Carter said.
And one mistake can be one too many against Cox.
"In a heavyweight match, it often comes down to who makes the first mistake," Jays coach Phil Cagle said. "Unfortunately, we don't bail out fast enough and he catches us."
Carter picked up a lot of his wins this season by locking up with his opponent before muscling them to the mat.
"We didn't chase him, we wanted to make him come to us," Cagle said. "We wanted to get a body lock on him, but he was too smart for that."
Carter advanced to the final by pinning two wrestlers he'd lost to the last time they wrestled.
"John's had a great career for us, to make it to the state finals is a big deal and something you hope for all of your kids," Cagle said. "It just didn't end the way we wanted."
Carter was a two-time state qualifier, but battled sickness during the tournament as a junior.
"He probably would have been a two-time medalist if he didn't get sick," Cagle said.
Carter ends the season at 43-5.
"It was a good senior year," Carter said. "I had 40-plus wins, that's always a good year."
Logan Moriarity (49-7) wrapped up his successful freshman season by finishing fourth for the Jays at 120.
In the final round of wrestlebacks Saturday, Moriarity won 2-0 against Devan Richter of Timberland. In the third-place match, Moriarity dropped a 4-2 decision to William Erneste of Park Hill.
"Logan is already talking about next year," Cagle said.
His confidence level is on the rise.
"It will go up, but his work level has got to go up as well," Cagle said. "But that's true for everybody and everything we do. As coaches, we want to give our kids the best chances we can, so we have to get better as well."
Jefferson City finished in a tie for 13th with C.B.C. with 43.5 points. Park Hill totaled 156.5 points to win the title, followed by Blue Springs (124.5) and Timberland (96).