They have put in the long hours of training and made sacrifices. They have competed in duals and in tournaments. They have prepared themselves mentally and physically.
Now it is time for the area high school wrestlers to put it all on the line over the next two weekends.
This weekend, with sectional tournaments in Illinois and district tournaments in Missouri, wrestlers will be looking to qualify for their respective state tournaments. The top four finishers in each Missouri district will earn a spot in a 32-man bracket to be contested Feb. 18-20 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.
In Illinois, the top three competitors in each Class 1A and Class 2A weight class, and the top four in Class 3A, will go to state Feb. 19-20 at Assembly Hall in Champaign.
Below is a rundown of the area tournaments scheduled for Friday and Saturday:
Illinois Class 3A
Edwardsville hosts a sectional that will feature local competitors from regional champion Granite City as well as Edwardsville, Alton, Belleville East, Belleville West, Collinsville and O'Fallon. They will compete against the top-three finishers from the regional at Chicago Marist, where Sandburg advanced 13 and won the team title.
"I don't think the sectional is as tough as last year, but it's still going to be awfully competitive,'' Granite City coach Allen Kirgan said. "On the plus side, I think it helps that our guys are going to be sleeping in their own beds instead of having to travel and stay in motels.''
Action begins at Edwardsville at 6 p.m. Friday; Saturday's sessions will start at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Illinois Class 2A
Last year's fourth-place finisher, Triad hosted and won the regional title last weekend, advancing 10 wrestlers. The qualifiers from Triad, which includes competitors from Cahokia, Civic Memorial, Jerseyville, Mascoutah, Highland and Waterloo, will square off with the qualifiers from Springfield High, where Chatham-Glenwood captured the team title.
Action begins at 4:30 p.m. Friday and will continue Saturday with sessions at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Illinois Class 1A
Regional champion Roxana advanced nine and Wood River two to the sectional at Robinson, where the winners from the regional at Roxana will take on those from Toledo Cumberland, where Vandalia captured the team title.
Wrestling begins at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Saturday sessions are 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Missouri Class 4
District 1 at Lindbergh includes Eureka, Fox, Jackson, Kirkwood, Lafayette, Lindbergh, Marquette, Mehlville, Northwest, Oakville, Parkway South, Seckman, SLUH and Vianney.
District 2 at Hazelwood Central includes CBC, DeSmet, Howell Central, Howell, Howell North, Zumwalt South, Hazelwood Central, Hazelwood East, Hazelwood West, McCluer, McCluer North, Pattonville, Ritenour and Riverview.
District 3 at Jefferson City includes Blue Springs, Blue Springs South, Zumwalt West, Hickman, Holt, Jefferson City, Joplin, Kickapoo, Lebanon, Parkview, Rock Bridge, Troy and Waynesville.
Missouri Class 3
District 1 at Farmington includes Cape Central, De Soto, Farmington, Gateway, Hillsboro, North County, Pacific, Poplar Bluff, Summit, Roosevelt, Sikeston, Sumner, Washington, Webster Groves and Windsor.
District 2 at Timberland includes Chaminade, Zumwalt East, Zumwalt North, Hannibal, Ladue, Normandy, Parkway Central, Parkway North, Parkway West, St. Charles, St. Charles West, St. Mary's, Timberland, University City and Warrenton.
Missouri Class 2
District 1 at Ste. Genevieve includes Affton, Park Hill Central, Dexter, Hancock, Miller Career, Cape Notre Dame, Owensville, Soldan, St. Clair, St. James, Ste. Genevieve, Sullivan, Union and Vashon.
District 2 at Mexico includes Boonville, Chillicothe, Clayton, Fulton, Kirksville, Marshall, Berkeley, Mexico, MICDS, Missouri Military Academy, Moberly, Priory, Westminster and Winfield.
Missouri Class 1
District 1 at Whitfield includes Barat Academy, Brentwood, New Madrid County Central, Centralia, NJROTC, Herculaneum, John Burroughs, Lutheran-St. Charles, Maplewood, Missouri School for the Blind, Principia, Trinity and Whitfield.