Scottsbluff, Bayard capture team district wrestling titles
     2013-02-14      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Ken Kurtz/Spectrum Photo - Gering Sophomore Baily Hort gets the upper hand on Scottsbluff sophomore Cruz Delacruz at an early season dual in Gering. Both will make an appearance at the State Tournament. 
Western Nebraska wrestlers flexed their best muscles Friday and Saturday in district action, which this year resulted in determining just the four qualifiers for this week’s state tournament in Omaha but also the automatic qualifying teams in the inaugural state dual tournament.

Scottsbluff in Class B and Bayard in Class D punched their respective tickets for the State Dual Tournament on Feb. 23 in Kearney by winning their district titles.

Scottsbluff won its second district title in three years, the first under second-year coach James Miller, thanks to junior heavyweight Andrew Aratani’s pin fall in the 285-pound championship match, which clinched the Bearcats a 4.5-point win over Lexington.

Aratani’s championship win was one of five gold-medal performances for the Bearcats, who also had two other top-four, state qualifiers in compiling 177.5 team points. Alliance finished third behind Lexington’s 173 with 163.5 points, while Gering qualified four for state in placing eighth with 66 points.

While the Bearcats did not have the team title clinched until Aratani’s first-period pin over McCook senior Mitchell Collicott, Miller credited the tenacity and success of Scottsbluff’s consolation wrestlers in compiling the points necessary for Aratani (35-13) to be in the position to win the team crown for SHS.

“The most memorable thing will be how everybody contributed and came together,” Miller said. “Honestly, I think we won the district title in the wrestle-backs. The kids who got first and second obviously did a great job for us, but so did those kids who came through the back door and got some wins in the second and third rounds of consolation. The kids who got those extra matches in this weekend, those are the kids that won it for us.”

Scottsbluff sophomore Cruz Delacruz (44-5) scored a 10-6 decision over Lexington junior Pascual Francisco to win the 106-pound title. Classmate Keegan Hessler (46-3) scored an 8-0 major decision over Holdrege senior Jacob Fuehrer to win the 113-pound championship.

Bearcat sophomore Joseph Flores-Ybarra (24-5) finished second at 120 pounds to Alliance junior Devin Ushio (32-3) on an 18-2 technical fall.

Two-time state champion Colton Adams, whose only loss in a 49-1 record came in a pre-Christmas tournament in Ohio, scored a third-period pin over Cozad junior Clay Trejo to take the 132-pound district title.

Bearcat sophomore Sabian Harsha (39-10) scored a quick, 32-second pin over Chadron freshman Tate Cullers to win the 145-pound district championship.

Chadron got a little revenge when Cardinals sophomore Willy Cogdill scored a 5-1 decision over Scottsbluff sophomore Tristan Donelson (27-9) in the 152-pound consolation match.

“We’re looking to place as many of those guys as we can,” Miller said of the Bearcats’ hopes in the state tournament, which begins Thursday at CenturyLink Center and continues through Saturday.

“Last year we had four state placers and this year we’re looking to improve on that and we’re looking for those guys to improve on placings. Cruz and Keegan are in the situation where they should be able to make the semis and finals, Colton should be able to wrestle well and come home with another state title.

“Sabian Harsh is in a great spot in his bracket where if he wrestles some smart matches he should be in the semis or the finals. Joe Ybarra in a good spot in his bracket where he should be able to medal, and Andrew Aratani is in the same situation. Tristan Donelson will have a little bit of a rougher go of it, but even he has a chance to place if he wrestles smart and well.”

And then all the Scottsbluff varsity team members will return to the wrestling room Monday to prepare for the first dual championships, for which the Bearcats earned an automatic berth as one of the four Class B district champions.

“It’s pretty cool,” Miller said of Scottsbluff’s successes and rewards. “The kids and our coaching staff were all really excited when we found out we had won districts. It took everybody on the team, it took the entire coaching staff; there’s not just one person or one thing that did it for us. It took everybody, so that was great.”

Gering sophomore Baily Hort finished third at 120 pounds in leading the Bulldogs. Hort (26-7) scored a 7-0 decision over Lexington junior Mike Nyugen in the consolation final.

Jacob Rexus, Gering’s only senior this season, earned a trip to state by making the consolation final. Rexus was pinned by Lexington sophomore Mario Barraza in the second period, however.

Bulldog 170-pound junior Elijah Timblin and 195-pound sophomore Christian Pester also made the consolation finals but settled for fourth-place, state-qualification berths.

Timblin (28-11) lost a 6-3 decision to Holdrege senior Matthias Wirges-Becker, while Pester (14-15) lost a 12-4 major decision to Alliance freshman Kyson Schnell.

Bayard wins Class D, sends 10 to state
The Bayard Tigers, after not having even one state qualifier last season while competing in Class C, rose to Tiger coach Randy McKibbin’s early-season challenge of maintaining their weight programs and won the District D-4 with ease and sends a school-record 10 state qualifiers to Omaha.

“They kind of took it to heart and believed what we were all about, and it showed,” said Bayard coach Randy McKibbin, who had five individual champions leading the Tigers’ 186-point ambush.

“I wouldn’t say it was the toughest competition we faced, but it was the most intense just because you’re trying to qualify for the state tournament. I guess that’s why you practice, that’s why you go to tough tournaments and you put them up against good people. You never know how things are going to shake out, but things worked out for us.”

Bayard’s overall team strength carried the Tigers to an 83-point victory over distant runner-up Hay Springs. Stapleton-McPherson County (SMC) was a close third with 98.5 points.

Morrill, which had six wrestlers qualify for state, finished in a tie for fourth with Perkins County at 91 points.

Banner County qualified three for state and finished ninth with 44 points, while Minatare finished in 14th with 17 points and qualified one wrestler for Omaha.

Bayard had several wrestlers over the past two seasons fall just one consolation semifinal victory short of making the top four in District C-4 meets.

With the shift to Class D and the high prospectus of filling most if not all 14 weight classes for districts, McKibbin saw the Tigers’ potential early in the season. Saturday’s results provided the ultimate answers that dedication and a tough regular-season schedule can offer.

“Those are always tough pills to swallow, and I guess that’s how character is formed, isn’t it?” McKibbin said of the Tigers’ “bridesmaid bracket” losses.

“When you set a goal and run short, you have to re-evaluate your goal and try to work hard and try to attain it again. They all did, so I was really proud to see them come through on top.”

Senior Lane Kizzire overcame an early season concussion to win the 145-pound district title with a 7-4 decision over Morrill freshman Elvariste Gomez.

Senior Allen Denton (24-4) won the 160-pound district gold medal with a 19-4 technical fall over Mullen freshman Gideon Monette.

Tiger sophomore Tristan Hunter (26-10) claimed the 170-pound championship with his second-period pin of Sutherland freshman Landon Fear.

Senior Austin Willey (27-5) won an all-area final at 182 pounds by pinning Banner County senior Gared Krakow in the second period. Junior cousin Tanner Willey (also 27-5) won the 195 class title with a third-period pin over SMC junior Clay Seifer.

Bayard junior Trenton Applegate (32-7) was the 152-pound district runner-up after losing a major decision in the finals. Junior Brandon Bowers won the 132-pound consolation final with a 1-0 decision over Morrill senior Matthew Unrein.

Sophomore Robert Niezwaag (3-10) overcame a broken foot suffered in football to qualify as a fourth-place district finisher. Junior Kyler Sides (9-8) finished fourth at 138, as did junior Chris Wurm (28-1) at heavyweight/285.

“We’ll just go there and we’ll give it our best shot,” McKibbin said of Bayard’s state tournament hopes. “Things have to fall the right way, but I think we’ve got some shots. It should matter of how their minds are and how much is in their hearts, and they’ve shown up to this point that they’ve shown a lot of heart and desire, so I don’t know why we couldn’t go down there and bring some hardware home.”

And, like Scottsbluff, the Tigers will still have business remaining after the traditional state tournament with their automatic qualification into the first state dual tournament.

“Ten get to wrestle in Omaha, and then the whole team gets to travel to Kearney and take on the eight best dual teams,” McKibbin said. “We get a chance to show what kind of team we have, and kudos to Nebraska for stepping up and letting it happen.”

For Morrill, senior C.J. Sidrow returns to state after making the 106-pound district final. Sidrow (24-10) lost an 8-4 decision to Perkins County senior Austin Thelander, who is 35-1 on the year. Gomez, 27-17 as a freshman for the Lions, qualified as the 145-pound runner-up to Bayard’s Kizzire.

Also for Morrill, freshman Garrett Zwiebel (18-25) earned a third-place finish at 138 pounds with a second-period pin over Bayard’s Sides. Sophomore heavyweight Matthew Hessler (30-11) scored a 40-second pin over Bayard’s Wurm for the consolation title.

Unrein (30-15) qualified at 132 and freshman Jackson Carpenter (9-29) made state at 160 after both finished fourth for the Lions.

Banner County had 182-pound runner-up Krakow (8-6) lead the Wildcats’ state-qualifying trio. Third-place finishing, 220-pound senior David Gifford (37-5) won by a second-period pin to take the consolation final. Banner County’s other qualifier is 195 fourth-place senior Thomas Grubbs (5-15).

Minatare sophomore Marc Cinocco (17-11) made state as a fourth-place finisher at 126.

Mitchell takes fourth, qualifies five for state in Class C
Mitchell had three seniors among its five state qualifiers, with the Tigers’ two freshmen and one senior finishing as district runners-up in the District C-4 tournament at Southern Valley High School near Oxford in Furnas County.

Mitchell thus finished fourth in the team standings with 112 points. Valentine scored a team-winning 188.5 points, 50 ahead of runner-up Sargent-Burwell. Bridgeport has two state qualifiers after finishing 13th in the district team race with 45 points.

Freshman Drew Gilliland (33-6) finished second at 106 pounds to Kearney Catholic junior Alex Cantral in an 11-7 decision. Freshman Braydon Wiedeman (24-8) was pinned in the third period by West Holt junior Josh Coyle in the 182-pound championship match.

Tiger senior Brendan Swanson (20-3) was pinned in his 170-pound championship match, in the second period by Kearney Catholic junior Thomas Connely.

Mitchell senior Spencer Rien (28-16) finished third at 220 with his consolation final pin in 1:57 of Sargent-Burwell junior Brook Huffman. Senior Josh Zulkowski (34-8) finished fourth at 120 pounds after getting pinned by Justin Miller of Sargent-Burwell.

Bridgeport junior Brandon Nichols is 36-2 after winning the 138-pound class with a second-period pin over Loomis-Bertrand junior Andrew Abramson. Bulldog junior Dakota Swires (22-6) enters state at 126 after a fourth-place finish.

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