With three opens in the lineup, capturing any team honors this weekend was going to be a tall task for the Jefferson City Jays.
But that doesn't mean they didn't give it their best.
"I'm really proud of how our kids wrestled," Jefferson City coach Phil Cagle said Saturday after the Jays finished fifth in the Capital City Invitational at Fleming Fieldhouse. "I think if we would have had one more kid in the lineup, there was a good chance we could have moved up a spot or two."
Jefferson City had two individual champions in Will Kuster at 138 pounds and Brandon Backues at 220.
Kuster got a second-period escape in his match against Jacob Smith of Francis Howell North and made that lone point stand up on a 1-0 victory.
Backues jumped out to a 4-1 lead after one period on his way to a 6-4 victory against Cortez Woods of Lafayette.
It was two impressive performances by the sophomores. But now's not the time to rest on any laurels.
"They'd better keep working," Cagle said. "This isn't the state tournament, this isn't the district tournament. This is a nice tournament for them to win, it's one of the bigger ones during the regular season. But it's not the postseason and there's a lot to do before then.
"It's a good memory, but they can't be satisfied. It will be time to go back to work Monday."
The wins were a measure of revenge for both as Kuster and Backues had lost their title-match opponents in pool matches earlier in the Invitational.
"They learned a few things and took that into their title matches," Cagle said. "It's an example of how our kids are learning to invest in themselves."
Ian Cote took second at 195 for the Jays, while Peter Kuster at 145 and Nate McKaye at 285 were third. Garrett Butel at 106 and Reece Neighbors at 152 were both fourth, while Jeremiah Wallace was fifth at 113.
"This is a tough, physical, hard-nosed tournament," Cagle said. "This was the best competition we've faced so far this season.
"We lost some tough matches, but we learned from them and came back and wrested well. This was good for us."
Lafayette was first as a team with 304.5 points, Lebanon was second at 276, just .5 ahead of third-place Park Hill Raymore-Peculiar was third in the 12-team Invitational with 235.5.
"This time of the year is about improving, it's not necessarily about winning a tournament," Cagle said. "We want to win this tournament, but districts are very important and that's what we need to keep working toward."
Cagle figures Jefferson City will have a full lineup Wednesday when the Jays travel down Stadium Boulevard to take on the Helias Crusaders in the crosstown showdown at Rackers Fieldhouse.
"This one is always a lot of fun and it's going to be a heck of a dual," Cagle said.
Wednesday's JV dual will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the varsity around 7 p.m.