When Zan Fugitt followed his older brother, Deagan, to the Class 4 State Wrestling Tournament last February, he didn’t journey to Columbia simply to cheer on Deagan.
Zan was also in attendance to soak up the atmosphere at Mizzou’s Hearnes Center in anticipation of taking to the mat at State himself this season.
“I’m glad I got see a glimpse of what it’s going to be like this year,” he said.
Zan enters his freshman season at Nixa with as decorated a youth wrestling career as any Eagle ever. He was a six-time state champion during grade school and middle school.
“I was fourth my first year (as a 7-year-old),” he said. “Since I was 8 to 13, I won state.”
Fugitt assumes Nixa’s 103-pound slot very capably occupied by Peyton Moore last season. Moore became the first Eagles freshman in the history of the program to make it to a state final, where he finished runner-up.
“That was pretty cool. I was hyped for him,” Fugitt said. “I want to see him make it again this year.”
Fugitt and Moore, who will be at 110 this season, will have the luxury of being each other’s primary practice partner.
“He’s a good friend. This year, we’re going to work with each other and make each other better,” Fugitt said. “Hopefully, both of us will win State.”
The jump from junior high, where he dominated, to high school is one Fugitt has been looking forward to. He’ll face almost exclusively freshmen and sophomores, but may see the occasional junior or senior during the course of the campaign. No matter if the competition is two or three years older than him, Fugitt has one goal.
“I’m glad to finally be in high school and have this experience,” he said. “A high school state title is what I’ve been working for.”
Fugitt obviously isn’t hesitant to add to the hype train surrounding his arrival. He’s using it as fuel to light his fire.
“That’s going to motivate me to work harder and keep getting better,” he said.
Deagan, a junior due to compete at 120, also is confident Zan won’t be overwhelmed by lofty expectations.
“A podium finish at State,” Deagan said when asked what he predicts for Zan this season. “He’s been on the national stage and on podiums at the national level, so he should be able to handle pressure well.”