It will be difficult to improve on the success Cole Hamai had during his junior season on the wrestling mat, but he plans on doing just that next year.
Competing at the MSHSAA Wrestling Championships at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Hamai claimed Class 3 third-place honors at 138 pounds with a 4-1 record.
“Cole had a very good meet like he always does,” said Washington Head Coach Josh Ohm. “He had a very disappointing semifinal match. Other than that, he should be very proud of what he accomplished.”
It’s Hamai’s third career all-state medal in three trips to the state tournament.
Hamai placed fourth at 132 pounds last year as a sophomore and was fourth place as a freshman at 119 pounds.
Three years at the state meet have resulted in three state medals.
“I’m pretty happy about that, but I really want that No. 1 spot,” Hamai said. “I got fourth place my first two years, so this is an improvement. Next year I’m definitely going for first place.”
Hamai (53-4) had a hard-fought third-place match, winning a 9-8 decision over Ladue’s Grant Sachs.
“It was a pretty tough match. Toward the end, my body was very tired,” Hamai said. “It was a really close match. I really wanted to win. I had to work through it and finish it off.”
To open the state tournament, Hamai also had a close match, winning a 2-0 decision over Willard’s Connar Loderhose.
There were no issues in the quarterfinals as Hamai won by technical fall 16-1 over Westminster’s Dominic Barressi.
Hamai suffered his lone loss of the state tourney in the semifinals, where he was pinned by eventual state runner-up Trevor Feagans (49-2) of Carthage in 4:36.
“I thought I was ready for the match, but I guess I wasn’t fully prepared,” Hamai said of the semifinal contest. “My mind wasn’t right.”
Hamai got things corrected to win his next two matches for third-place honors.
In the wrestlebacks, he won an 11-1 major decision over Willard’s Connar Loderhose to reach the third-place contest.
Hamai was happy with the third-place performance, but certainly not satisfied.
“I’m glad I was able to finish on top in my last match and finish my season off with a win,” he said. “It felt good helping the team, even though we didn’t place. It was good.”
Hamai scored 16.5 team points for the Blue Jays, who finished the state meet in fourth place with 79.5 points, just two places away from a state trophy.
“I felt like we had a lot of really good accomplishments this season. Getting first place in districts and doing well in the GAC Tournament were a couple of the bigger highlights for us,” Hamai said. “We were in the top two, basically, in every tournament we went to. We have a lot of talent and a lot of potential. We kind of didn’t live up to it in this tournament.”
Among the school records Hamai set this season were most wins in a single season and most pins by a junior. He also was the first junior in school history to reach 100 career victories.
“It’s the most wins I’ve ever had in a season,” Hamai said. “During the offseason, I’ll wrestle at a freestyle club, go to tournaments, practice in the room and lift weights.”
By the time his senior season is over next year, Hamai will be well in the lead for most career wins at Washington.
“Cole had an incredible season,” Ohm said. “If he continues to do the things he does now, I have no doubt that next year not only will he be Washington’s first four-time state medalist, but also our first state champion.”