Chance Carmack, Gaven and Sean Sax, Teyler Bruch and Peter Lucitt will all make the trip to Mizzou Arena

Five Waynesville wrestlers have punched their tickets to the state tournament.

Chance Carmack (113), Gaven and Sean Sax (120 and 126, respectively), Teyler Bruch (138) and Peter Lucitt (145) will make the trip to Mizzou Arena in Columbia for the state tournament that spans Thursday through Saturday. All but Bruch — third place — were district runners-up and the team as a whole finished second as well.

The Tigers placed 11th at the state tournament a season ago but had eight qualifiers.

So, to improve upon that finish, per the goal the team laid out in the beginning of the season, some of this year’s troops will have to perform better individually coach Lucas Smith said.

“We’re going to have to place a little higher [individually],” he said. “We’re going to have to beat some people that some people think that we can’t.”

It’ll help that all but Gaven -- a freshman -- grappled on the mats in Columbia last year.

And even he shouldn’t be waltzing in blind. After all, having the back-to-back Ozark Conference Wrestler of the Year and three-time state qualifier Sean Sax living under the same roof should provide at least some incredulous wrestling insight, right?

“He just told me not to really get nervous,” Gaven said. “Just go out there and wrestle and I’ll be good. That’s about it.”

Well, it’s better than nothing.

Which is almost how the man himself described his feeling of owning sixth and fourth-place state medals and those two conference WOY trophies.

“Feels like I’m doing something right,” Sean said.

It’s the state gold he wants.

As do the other four guys.

However, Sean is the only one with any state memorabilia that isn’t an article of clothing.

For the others to make the leap to the podium, Smith said it’s going to require them to focus on their game, not the opponent’s.

“The guys that didn’t make it onto the podium last year, those guys are going to have to buckle down and not worry about who’s where in the bracket,” Smith said. “Just wrestle their style at their time and wrestle their match each and every time they step out there.”

Going from an 0-10 football season to a state qualifying wrestling performance in a matter of months, Carmack is willing to take his coach’s minimalist advice to continue the upswing in his athletic life.

“The first match is the one that counts, I think,” Carmack said. “Get the first one by and just let the snowball effect go and get your confidence up.”

Self-assurance is forefront in Gaven’s strategy.

He remembers being nervous before his first varsity match but recalled that “just go out there and wrestle” advice from his brother. He picked up the ‘W’.

And he believes he can finish the wrestling season how he started.

“I can win it this year,” Gaven proclaims. “I have the confidence in myself. That’s how I wrestle.”

That’s how the Tigers wrestle.