COLUMBIA — Brandon Backues burst his bubble.
The past two years, the Jefferson City junior had qualified for the Class 4 state championships at Mizzou Arena. But both years, he finished one win short of earning a medal, his tournament ending in what is known as the "bubble" round.
The third time turned out to be the charm. Backues picked up that key win Friday night, eventually finishing fifth Saturday at 220 pounds.
"I was not having it this year," Backues said.
Backues defeated Marco Perla of Marquette 3-0 in the key round. Was it a sense of relief to make it to Saturday for the first time? Or more excitement?
"It was kind of both," Backues said. "I was satisfied by placing, but I wanted to place as high as I could."
On Saturday, he lost 8-2 to Austin Wegener of Lafayette: Wildwood in the fourth round of wrestlebacks before posting a 4-2 victory against Jaydn Withrow of Joplin to finish fifth.
"I'd lost to (Withrow) in each of the last three years, that was pretty big," Backues said.
Backues trailed 2-0 after Withrow scored a takedown with :40 remaining in the second period. Backues answered with a quick escape to cut the deficit to 2-1 heading to the third period.
Backues got an early escape to tie the match. He then got the winning points on a takedown with :15 remaining.
"I didn't want to go out losing," Backues said.
Backues finished with a record of 4-2 at the championships, with both losses coming to Wegener. The two met in the first round Thursday night, with Wegener taking a 6-2 victory.
"They were hard-fought matches, I did what I could do," Backues said.
With one medal earned, he's looking to do a little better than fifth as a senior.
"I want to be in the finals," Backues said. "There's not much competition returning at 220 or at heavyweight, depending where I go next year.
"I'm really going to strive to be in the finals."
Backues was the only one of Jefferson City's seven qualifiers to earn a medal.
Three other Jays — senior Garrett Butel at 113, along with juniors Will Kuster at 145 and Sam Rackers at 152 — lost in Friday night's bubble round.
Jefferson City will return three other qualifiers — freshman Clayton Hurley at 132, freshman Will Berendzen at 160 and sophomore Brandt Aulber at 182.
The Jays finished 21st in the final team standings with 29.5 points. C.B.C. won the team title with 166.5 points, with Liberty taking second at 159.5. Park Hill (146.5) and Staley (131) rounded out the trophy winners.