Nick Gaines and Jacob Schulte just need to focus on what's in front of them.
The Helias Crusader duo will both be making their first appearances at the Class 3 state wrestling tournament starting at 5 p.m. today at Mizzou Arena. The pomp and circumstance that goes along with the first day of the tournament can be an unwelcome diversion.
"Hopefully, the mountain they have to climb in the first round is bigger than the show," Helias coach Jacob Wadley said. "They need to focus on what's going on in the first round, not everything else that's going on up there."
Gaines, a freshman, and Schulte, a junior, both finished fourth in their respective weights in last weekend's Class 3 District 4 tournament. That means both will draw first-round matchups against district champions.
"Both of them believe they can compete," Wadley said. "If that's the case, then we should be good to go."
Gaines (28-12) will square off against Fort Zumwalt North sophomore Shaun Beeman (38-2) at 106 pounds. Beeman finished 3-2 to take fourth place at state as a freshman.
"Nick feels good about the matchup and if he feels good about it, that's all I can ask for," Wadley said.
Bryant Gaines, Nick's father who was a state champion in his days at Helias, joined the Crusader coaching staff in the off-season,
"Bryant has said all year how much Nick has surprised him," Wadley said. "He's says he's grinding out matches and his work effort has been outstanding."
Schulte (31-12) will meet Neosho junior Jason Box (42-9) at 138 pounds. Box was 1-2 and did not place at the same weight in 2013.
"Jacob has dealt with the mental side of things great this season," Wadley said. "His father said he wasn't sure he'd see that focus and determination about of Jacob again, he thought he'd lost his passion for wrestling."
Wadley said Schulte and Box have several common opponents this season.
"I think those show that we have a chance," Wadley said.
With a win, a wrestler advances to Friday's quarterfinal round. A first-round loss drops a wrestler into the first round of wrestlebacks later tonight.
Wadley is thinking positive.
"If we can pull an upset or two, then you can start thinking about placing at state," Wadley said. "I'm going to shoot for the stars and hoping for the best means both of them place."