Hannibal junior Chase Kirby qualified for the Class 3 state wrestling championships after a midseason change in weight class.
What tipped the scales in favor of Chase Kirby quite literally was the scale itself.
The Hannibal junior dropped 30 pounds over the course of the regular season to transition from the heavyweight division to the 220-pound weight class.
The change has brought about success.
Kirby has hit his stride for victories in 14 of his past 16 matches, including two of three over the weekend in the Class 3 District 2 Tournament to reach the state championships.
The grappler was the runner-up at 220 pounds in the district tournament.
“Coach had been pushing me because I was on the lower part of the heavyweight division,” Kirby explained of his move to 220, which went into effect Jan. 2. “We figured this would be the best decision because I can be on the upper side of 220 to where I'm not getting pushed around because I'm good technique-wise.”
After entering the winter weighing 241, Kirby naturally began to drop pounds as he went through workouts.
During the first month of the wrestling season, the standout offensive lineman for the football team was often at a size disadvantage in heavyweight competition.
“Chase was wrestling some 280-pound guys and giving up 50 pounds,” Hannibal wrestling coach Derek Greening said. “This one day, I just said, 'Man, aren't you tired of wrestling bigger guys?'”
Kirby was, so he did something about it.
The junior followed a weight loss plan that made him eligible to compete at 220 by the start of the new calendar year.
The drop in weight class gave him a mental edge.
“They're quicker than the big guys but they won't push me around as much,” Kirby said of his 220-pound opponents. "And I can push them around some because I have the experience of going against bigger guys.”
After starting 9-9 in the new weight class, Kirby won nine straight matches entering districts.
The emerging grappler, who weighed in at 212 this past weekend, takes a 29-14 record into the state meet.
“Going from wrestling those big guys to smaller, weight-wise, it gives you a mental edge, but you're facing quicker, more athletic kids,” Greening said. “But that's what Chase is too. He's an athletic kid. It's really working out for him.”
Kirby earned a 10-4 decision over Evan Bragee of Fort Zumwalt South in the district quarterfinals to avenge a previous loss this season.
That win gave him confidence to post an 18-2 technical fall win in the semifinals.
He then suffered a third-period pin in the district championship.
While making state was Kirby's primary goal this season, he is setting new objectives this week at Mizzou Arena.
“It's not over,” Kirby said. “Obviously this (reaching state) was one of my goals, but you have to reset them after you make one. I celebrated for a little bit, but I've got to keep going and grinding.”
Greening mentioned he is impressed by how Kirby takes steps forward to improve every single day.
“Chase has confidence,” Greening said. “He's been getting so much better every day in practice and so much more physical. He gets after it in the room. His work ethic and the way he's really gotten after it here lately is really paying off for him.”
The same confidence that helped Kirby adapt to a new weight class mid-season leads him to Columbia as one of eight Pirates who qualified for state.
“We all want the state championship,” Kirby said. “It's going to be tough, but I just need to have the right mindset and be intense. I just want to try my best, and hopefully the cards are placed right where I can place.”