Bearcats bitten by tough draw, finish 7th at state duals
     2014-03-06      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Ken Kurtz/Spectrum Photo - Completing his stellar career on Saturday, as part of the Bearcats’ team in the second annual Class B State Dual Championships at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Colton Adams (pictured at the SHS Dual Tournament) was nothing less than dominant – one more time. 
Colton Adams was a convincing force for the Scottsbluff High School wrestling team the past four years. While compiling a staggering career record of 192 wins and just six losses, Adams became just one of 24 Nebraskans to earn four individual state championships.

In completing his stellar career Saturday, as part of the Bearcats’ team in the second annual Class B State Dual Championships at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Adams was nothing less than dominant – one more time.

Adams won all three of his matches in the tournament, in which Scottsbluff finished seventh out of eight teams after losing its first two duals by slim margins before the Bearcats outscored Gretna 30-20 in their final dual.

“I think I did well,” Adams said after he scored two technical falls at 145 pounds and one pin fall at 152 in the duals. “I teched the 3rd - and 4th-place kids from the state bracket and pinned the other guy, so nobody was close to me.”

Adams’ 22-7 technical fall win over Gretna’s Quentin Dawes was the second time in two weekends that Adams had beaten Dawes. In the state tournament semifinals on Feb. 21, Adams won a 22-10 major decision.

Adams defeated Lane Laaker of Bennington on a 23-8 technical fall in the teams’ opening dual, won by Bennington 32-26.

Against West Point-Beemer in the consolation semifinals, Adams moved up to 152 and won on a second-period pin over Aldo Padilla at 3:39. West point-Beemer, however, won the dual 39-37.

Omaha Skutt Catholic won its second straight state dual championship and matched its state tournament title by downing state runner-up Bennington 49-21. Adams Central defeated Nebraska City 38-30 in the third-place dual, and Lexington topped West Point-Beemer 44-24 for fifth place.

Despite seeing the Bearcats finish just seventh in the tournament, Adams said that he likes the state dual tournament as well as the bracketed state championships.

“It really gets the team pumped up and makes them wrestle better,” he said. “We had some kids beat some people that they should not have beaten, but a lot of it was you get the matches rolling and everybody gets pumped up.”

Adams gave the indication that he is ready to move on to bigger and better things when he starts taking classes and working out at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln this summer.

“I think it’s kind of good that it’s over,” Adams said of his high school career. “I think I can do better in college because I will be practicing with better kids all season.”

Adams said he wants to get an early start this summer because he is limited in doing the off-season workouts the Huskers want him to do.

“Half of the stuff that they need me to do I can’t even do because I don’t have the equipment,” Adams said. “I just do what I can. If I’m beating everybody in the room, they will probably let me wrestle (varsity as a freshman).”

Adams said the most pressure of his career came at this year’s state tournament, with the opportunity to become just one of two dozen four-time champions – and five who completed the golden grand slam this season – riding on every move.

“At state was probably the most pressure,” he said. “Being a four-timer is pretty awesome. If you were to lose, that would be very bad.”

Adams won his fourth gold medal on a 3-2 decision in the 145-pound final over previously unbeaten Vince Thatcher of Crete. “I was just trying to stay away. If it wouldn’t have been the state finals I probably would have won by a lot more.”

And to be part of the 2014 class of five four-time state champions? “It’s awesome,” he said. “I know most of them; I’ve been on dual teams with them.”

On his 192 career wins, Adams reflected: “It will probably stay for a long time. Rules always change so it will get broken at some point, but I think it will be there for a while.”

Adams gained a new head coach in James Miller for his sophomore season, and each said they helped the other in achieving success for Adams and the Bearcats.

“He’s probably my best workout partner early in the seasons, ” Adams said of Miller. “He has some different views on things that I’ve never seen before because he wrestled through college. He’s really good. ”

Miller not only had a returning state champion, and budding four-time gold medalist, in Adams but had Tyler Nation for his senior year and route to becoming Scottsbluff’s first three-time state champ.

“My first year we had Colton and Tyler who were both returning state champions, so I guess that’s a blessing to walk into that situation,” Miller said.

Miller said the duals bracket proved more difficult with the losses to Bennington and West Point-Beemer, both teams Scottsbluff defeated in duals earlier in the season.

“It was tough to get a draw when on the same side of the bracket you have two teams you’ve beaten before, but we weren’t able to pull off the wins again,” Miller said. “It was a little frustrating.”

Scottsbluff’s other two state finalists gained some redemption from their championship match losses by going 3-0 in the state duals.

Junior Keegan Hessler, a state champion as a sophomore, completed his season at 45-10 with his three wins Saturday. He scored a 5-2 decision over Bennington’s August Yoder at 132 pounds – avoiding a rematch of his 126-pound state championship match against undefeated Brett Velasquez.

Hessler then returned to 126 and scored a 17-2 technical fall over West Point-Beemer’s Austen Eisenhauer and a 38-second pin fall over Dan Zeleny of Gretna.

Senior heavyweight Andrew Aratani, the runner-up at 285 pounds, finished his year at 49-6 with his 3-0 sweep Saturday. Aratani pinned Bennington’s Jason Brunk in 28 seconds and Braydon Luebber of West Point-Beemer in 41 seconds before he scored a 1-0 decision over Blake Chick of Gretna.

“I’m really proud of the way he wrestled this year,” Miller said of Aratani. “It was nice to see those seniors have one last chance to wrestle a little bit more. It was a good weekend for them.”

Junior 160-pounder Sabian Harsh, after finishing in fifth at state the week before, also went 3-0 in the duals. He scored a 7-0 decision over Justin Mahon of Bennington and pinned Josh Gasper of Gretna in 4:31 while picking up a forfeit against West Point-Beemer. Harsh finished the season with a 48-8 record.

Going 2-1 for Scottsbluff were freshman 120-pounder Salem Harsh (38-14 after scoring a 10-3 decision and 11-2 major decision for wins), senior Cameron Presher (31-20) at 182 (one win) and 195 (a 1-1 split) and 113-pound freshman Robert Price (34-17 with a 5-4 decision and forfeit for wins.

“We’ll have a lot of guys coming back,” Miller said. “We’ll lose a couple of big seniors and those will be some tough shoes to fill, but we’re excited to see what these underclassmen can do next year with a little work this summer.”

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