Bearcats roll to third straight district title: Scottsbluff has three champs, eight total state qualifiers; Victor Ramos leads Gering pair to state
     2015-02-19      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Ken Kurtz/Spectrum Photo - Scottsbluff’s 120 lb district champion Keegan Hessler controls Gering’s Aaron Tovar during the Scottsbluff dual against Gering earlier this season. Tovar placed fourth in the Class B4 district tournament and will also be competing at the state tourney in Lincoln this week. See page B10 for more photos of the area’s wrestlers competing in the state tournament. 
CHADRON – Not only did the Scottsbluff wrestling team win its third consecutive District B-4 wrestling title Saturday at Chadron State College the Bearcats did so in pretty convincing fashion.

With three district champions leading the way, Scottsbluff had eight state qualifiers and won the 12-team tournament by 40 points. The Bearcats amassed 168 team points, with runner-up Holdrege a distant second with 128. Sidney edged Lexington for third place, 116 points to 115.5.

Gering may have placed lowest among the team points, but the Bulldogs still netted 40 points, led by senior Marcelino Ramos’s championship performance at 106 pounds. Freshman Aaron Tovar also qualified for state in his first try, taking fourth at 120 pounds.

“It’s a huge honor, and it’s a great accomplishment for the kids,” Scottsbluff coach James Miller said of his third straight district win in as many years as the Bearcats’ coach as well. “We drove up and they were ready to go. They’ve worked hard and are doing the right things, and so hopefully they understand that they can be proud of themselves.”

Ultimately, however, Miller said the Bearcats’ goal is to perform well at the state tournament, which starts today (Thursday) and continues through Saturday at CenturyLink Center in Omaha.
“Districts is about what you have to do to qualify,” Miller said of making state. “I think the district title is a nice piece to add to our season, but ultimately our goal is to perform well (this) weekend and get as many kids on the podium as we can.”

For Scottsbluff, senior Keegan Hessler won the 120-pound class for his third straight district title. Hessler (39-6) won his championship match by forfeit over Chadron sophomore Joe Ritzen (37-6).

“He is getting mentally ready for state,” Miller said of Hessler, who won state as a sophomore and finished second last year.
Freshman Mario Ybarra (36-10) went into a tiebreak in the 113-pound title match against Broken Bow sophomore Clayton Glendy (33-6) and scored on an escape to win the championship match 4-3.

“That was big for him to win a finals match,” Miller said of Ybarra, who had not won a championship this season. “So that’s a step in the right direction for him and to build some confidence.”
Sophomore Robert Price (26-18) returns to state as a district champion, winning the 126-pound title over Cozad senior Jacob Hoffman (33-11) by a 4-3 decision in the final.

The Bearcats had three other finalists who lost their championship matches, and two other Bearcats came through in their consolation finals.

The Harsh brothers both earned second-place finishes after they advanced to their respective championship matches.
Sophomore Salem Harsh returns to state after he finished second to undefeated Sidney freshman Derek Robb (41-0), who scored a pin over Harsh (36-11) in 1:43 in the 138-pound championship match. Harsh placed sixth at state as a freshman.

Senior Sabian Harsh (31-6) finished second at 160 pounds to Lexington senior Dakota Hernandez (41-3), who won the title match by forfeit. The elder Harsh was third at state as a sophomore and fifth last year.

Sophomore Ben Rodriguez (28-9) made the 132-pound championship match, where he was outpointed in a 3-2 decision to Holdrege junior Devin Logston (32-8). Rodriguez nevertheless earned his second trip to state.
Scottsbluff freshman Elijah Blanco (23-23) captured third place at 145 pounds after he scored an 8-6 decision over Lexington senior Rodrigo De La Torre (27-19) in the consolation final.

And sophomore Kobe Paez (20-23) claimed the 170-pound consolation final with a 7-4 decision over Ogallala junior Gerald Kenkel (23-13).
“It was huge for us to push all those guys through to the finals and have those other two come through on the back side,” Miller said. “We lost a couple in the heartbreak round (consolation semifinals), which was kind of tough, but overall as a team, I thought we competed pretty well.”

For Gering, Ramos (33-5) won the 106-pound championship by scoring a 4-3 decision over Chadron senior Daniel Goings (27-6). Ramos will be looking to better his freshman state performance in which he went 1-2 in scoring the Bulldogs’ lone victory among four qualifiers last year.

“He has come a long way since last year,” Gering coach Jj Behrens said of Ramos. “I’d rather deal with weight than the mental aspect of it, and he has the mental aspect down when it comes to competing in a match.”

Tovar worked his way back to the consolation final after he lost his quarterfinal match to Chadron’s Ritzen on a 19-2 technical fall. Tovar then earned a bye in the consolation round before he pinned Sidney’s Devon Schilz in 1:54 of the first period.
Tovar then scored a 10-4 decision over Tyler Kreutzer of Ogallala in the consolation semifinals. In the consolation final, Tovar lost a 3-1 decision to Gothenburg sophomore Bryce Larson (39-10). The loss to Larson was Tovar’s third to Larson this season, but, Behrens said, “We keep closing the gap.”

“Those two are like brothers and are probably the hardest workers in the wrestling room. They seek out the toughest competition, they want to challenge each other, and those two doing that definitely showed itself (last) weekend.”

Bayard third in C-4

Bayard came within perhaps one positive move of earning runner-up honors in the District C-4 meet at Mitchell, taking third with 115 points.
Valentine, appropriately on Valentine’s Day, served up its on-mat massacre with 228 points, with Southern Valley second with 118 points.

Led by senior three-time state qualifier Tristan Hunter, the Tigers got six state tournament qualifiers.

Mitchell, led by juniors Drew Gilliland and Braydon Wiedeman’s victories, finished seventh with 86 points. The host Tigers were just 3.5 points behind seventh-place Bridgeport, which has – state qualifiers led by sophomore 138-pound champion Joe Weibert.
Hunter, who placed fourth at state last year after a district runner-up finish.

“It’s a cool thing for him to be a senior and win the district championship,” Bayard coach Randy McKibbin said.
Junior heavyweight Zaine Gallegos suffered his first blemish of the season in the 285-pound final against another unbeaten in Hershey junior Lane Richardson (13-0).

“He’s the same kid Zaine wrestled last year,” McKibbin said of Richardson, who pinned Gallegos 17 seconds into the third period.
Heavyweights can go that way. The match can be really tight, and one will either get turned the wrong way or fall funny. Zaine made one mistake, which at this level is all it takes. He’s had an amazing year and with just one loss on the year, that’s quite a feather in his cap.”

Freshman Alex Araujo (37-4) finished second to Minden senior Austin Olson, who pinned Araujo 34 seconds into the second period of their 113-pound final.

Senior Felipe Palomo (27-13), in just his first year of wrestling, pulled out a fourth-place finish at and senior Alex Wamboldt (29-11) claimed third at 195 pounds. McKibbin said each was just one move from making the finals and thus move Bayard into second in the team standings.

Freshman Mitch McKibbin, a chip off the 16-year coach, earned a state berth at 106 pounds with his fourth-place finish.
“At the end, we get third by three points, and if either Felipe or Alex makes the finals, we would’ve had enough points to finish as district runner-up,” McKibbin said.

Mitchell’s Gilliland takes a 40-1 record into state after he closed out his 126-pound district championship run with a 3-1 decision over Valentine sophomore Noah Eklund. Gilliland thus earned his third trip to state; he finished fourth last year at 113 pounds and fifth as a freshman at 106.

Wiedeman (22-10), also a third-time state qualifier, won his way to Omaha in the 182-pound final with a 2-1 decision over Bridgeport sophomore Jerrod Fedorchik. Wiedeman did not medal at state last year after he finished fifth as a freshman.
Sophomore Darryn Walters (36-12) finished fourth at 120 pounds after Bridgeport freshman Steven Tafoya pinned Walters 33 seconds into the second period.

Qualifying for Bridgeport, in addition to champion Weibert (29-10) at 138 and runners-up Fedorchik (31-8) at 182 and Tafoya (27-10) at 120, were 113-pound freshman Ronnie Brown (18-15) and 152-pound junior Lawrence Schneider (33-10), who both took fourth.
Weibert scored a 3-2 decision in the 138-pound final over Valentine sophomore Hudson Pearman (29-6).

Morrill fifth in D-4

Morrill had just five wrestlers this season, but four of the Lions are headed to state after senior Matthew Hessler and junior Garrett Zwiebel led the way by repeating district championships in the District D-4 meet at Hemingford.

Morrill finished fifth in the team standings with 90 points. Sutherland took the team title with 145 points, with North Platte St. Patrick’s in second with 135.
Minatare came in 13th with 27 points and Banner County got eight points for 16th among the 18 teams.

Hessler (25-5), who was fourth at 285/heavyweight last year, repeated his district championship by pinning Sutherland senior Bryson Dick (20-8) 1:34 into the second period of their title match.
Zwiebel (30-4) won the 160-pound championship by pinning Hay Springs senior Kolten Marx (17-5) in 1:15 seconds. Zwiebel will be looking to place at state after qualifying last year.

Also making state for Morrill is junior Elvariste Gomez (29-5), who finished second at 170 pounds with a 5-4 decision loss to 31-1 junior Gideon Monette.

Lion freshman William Howell (29-15) won the 182-pound consolation title by injury default over Hemingford freshman Kage Jespersen (18-9).

For Minatare, sophomore Josh Cinocco (24-13) claimed third place at 145 pounds with an 8-3 decision over Hemingford sophomore Lee Jespersen in the consolation final. Sophomore Rome Lerma (8-20) earned his first trip to state for the Indians with a fourth-place finish at 195 pounds.

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