Bearcat state champions sign college letters: York to play golf at UNO, Hessler to wrestle at Morningside College
     2014-11-27      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Courtesy photos - Scotts Bluff High School Head Wrestling Coach James Miller observes as Scottsbluff senior Keegan Hessler signs his letter of intent to wrestle for Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. 
Two of Scottsbluff’s senior individual state champions shared the stage Nov. 18 when 2013 state wrestling titlist Keegan Hessler and recent girls’ golf state medalist Jordan York signed their respective national letters of intent in the Scottsbluff High School board room.

Hessler, who finished second at state last year after his gold-medal season as a sophomore, signed with Morningside College of Sioux City, Iowa.
York, who capped off her prep career by winning the Class B individual title in October and leading the Bearcats to their second straight team championship, will stay on the west side of the Missouri River when she takes her game to the NCAA Division I level at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

“My dream has always been to play Division I golf,” York said. “I visited a lot of other schools, but I just decided that Omaha was the best fit.
“It’s really exciting,” said York, who plans to major in business at UNO. “I know it’s going to take a lot of my time, but that’s what I’m ready for and I’m really excited to play for them.”

York, a four-time state qualifier, was the Class B individual medalist after she finished the two-day tournament with a score of 159 for a two-stroke victory. York also led the Bearcats to their second straight Class B state team title and their state-record seventh in 12 years.

York was ninth as a junior and tied for 15th as a freshman; she missed out on the top-15 medals her sophomore year with a tie for 19th place.
York finished her senior season with seven medalist titles, leading the Bearcats to eight team championships that included the District B-4 and state titles. Her individual state achievement earned York a spot on the 2014 Nebraska High School Super-State Girls’ Golf Team.

“It’s awesome,” York said. “I couldn’t have done it without my great coaches, and winning the past two years as a team was really awesome too.”
“Jordan had a great year and she’s had a great career. She’s been at state every year and won state this year, which is awesome and is hard to do,” Scottsbluff golf coach Mike Klein said.

“She has spent a lot of time and effort and has made herself into a good player, so she deserves everything that she’s achieved so far. She’s going to bring (to UNO) hard work, a really good attitude and a pretty good golf game right now that’s probably going to get better.”

York said her short game is the best part of her golf talent, and she added, “But I need to work on hitting the ball a lot farther since you play on a lot longer courses.”

UNO women’s golf coach Tim Nelson said in a phone interview Friday that he learned of York’s ability from Maverick men’s coach Seth Porter, who saw York play in a tournament last summer.

Nelson said he first saw York play on Oct. 3, through weather-trodden conditions at the Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference Tournament in Norfolk, which she won with an 87 and by three strokes over junior Bearcat teammate Hannah Holloway.
Nelson said he then watched York play again three days later, at the District B-4 Tournament in Lexington, where she finished second by one stroke to Gering senior Sam Rahmig – who on Nov. 14 signed to play at Chadron State College after she finished in a fifth-place tie at state.

“I was very impressed with her swing and you could see she had some determination talent to go with it,” said Nelson, who has been fortunate to recruit the past two Class B state medalists.

Megan Vetrovsky, a former foe of York’s and the Bearcats from McCook, is a freshman on the Mavericks this year. UNO was playing in the Payne Stewart Memorial Tournament in Springfield, Mo., the same week as the Class B State Tournament in Lincoln, so Nelson was unable to see York win her state title.

“Then I talked to Megan and she made some positive comments about Jordan,” continued Nelson, who has coached the UNO women’s team since 2003. “I was impressed with her competitiveness.

“There’s just something that just looks good to you, and when you put all those things together and just watching her play – her shot selection just seemed very good, as well as her mechanical things – there are just a lot of positive things there.”

Nelson said the coaches also help the student-athletes in their time management in balancing their classes, studies, practice time and tournament trips.
“It’s a big difference when you go to play 36 holes in a day. When we’re at a tournament, you play a practice round, then you play 36 the next day and then 18 and come home. And I think she has the drive and determination to do that. She practices and plays a lot, so the stamina should be there.”

That York will join Vetrovsky as the two most recent Class B champions at UNO is a fact in which Nelson takes great pride.
“It’s neat thing to do, and it’s a credit I think to both their coaches in preparing these kids to play like they do and to be as competitive,” Nelson said. “And both sets of parents are so supportive of the kids and what they do. Jordan seems like the type who is really going to fit in.”

On his prospectus of York for next fall, Nelson said, “I think she can be very competitive, maybe even in the top three or four.”
Hessler got his commitment to Morningside wrapped up in the dawn of his senior season, which by its conclusion Hessler will look to becoming just the Bearcats’ sixth multiple state wrestling champion.

“The education part of the school is very good,” said Hessler, who is looking to major in criminal justice at Morningside. “Coach Stevenson is a great guy, a good wrestling coach and I believe in what he’s building out there.
“The small-town feel of Sioux City is great. It’s just a nice feel for me. It’s a good fit for me.”

Morningside coach Jake Stevenson – an Albion, Neb., native who is entering his third season of coaching at his alma mater and part of the Mustangs’ charter wrestling team when the program began in 2004 – said he looks to have Hessler enter next season as a 125-pounder.
“We expect Keegan to compete right away,” Stevenson said. “He’s had great success and we want him to continue that in college and push our guys every day, and hopefully be the guy that everybody else is chasing too.”

Hessler became Scottsbluff’s 21st different individual state champion – 29 state gold medals have gone to Bearcats since 1962 – in 2013, when he won the 113-pound title.
Hessler then went 3-0 for the Bearcats in the inaugural Class B State Dual Championships and finished his sophomore season with a 57-3 record.
As a junior, Hessler wrestled at 126 at state and finished second in a battle of 2013 champions, losing by pin fall to undefeated Brett Velasquez of Bennington in the third period. Another 3-0 day in the ensuing state dual tournament gave Hessler a 45-10 record as a junior.

Hessler was 38-17 as a freshman, going 2-2 at state in the 113-pound class.
“Keegan has been a great contribution to the program so far,” Scottsbluff coach James Miller said of Hessler, who has a high school record of 140-30.
“As far as the accolades that he has achieved – being a state finalist last year and state champion the year before that – our expectations for him are to continue that success and to continue the dominance that we want him to have.”

Hessler said he will compete at 113 in Scottsbluff’s first two tournaments and then move up to 120 for the duration of his final prep campaign.
The Bearcats finished third behind Skutt and Beatrice last year after they were runners-up to the Skyhawks in 2013. Scottsbluff finished fifth in the 2012 team race.
“We have a great team,” Hessler said. “We’ve got to keep working hard. Our first tournament is on the fifth (of December, at Windsor, Colo.), so we have a couple of weeks and we’ll be ready to go.”

“We’re chasing Skutt. They’ve beaten us the last three years, and the goal this year is to knock them off.”
Stevenson said Hessler’s team spirit is a key part in why he sought the Bearcat senior.

Morningside finished ninth in the 2014 NAIA National Championships and had four all-Americans, Stevenson said. The Mustangs competed in the Great Plains Athletic Conference, winning the conference team title the past four years and is on a 30-dual conference winning streak.

“First, he’s had a great high school career so far,” Stevenson said. “I’ve watched him compete at some preseason tournaments, some national tournaments and he has competed well at national tournaments. So that was the first thing that drew me to Keegan and got me talking to him.
“Academically, he’s a very strong student, and that’s another side of Morningside that is very important to us. That combination is what we’ve built our program around so far, and I think Keegan is going to continue that and hopefully take us to another level.”

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