Bearcats come close to state wrestling championship Hessler wins second title, Rodriguez first in leading runner-up Scottsbluff’s six medalists
     2015-02-26      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photos by Jane White/for the Citizen - The Scottsbluff Bearcats celebrate their achievement as the Nebraska Class B State Wrestling runners up in Omaha last week. Pictured with their trophy are front row from left,: Coach Parsley, Kedryn Jackson, Rob Price, George Hernandez, Ben Rodriguez, Hector Escamilla, Salem Harsh, Matt Brostrom, Coach Adams, Coach Lopez; back row, Mario Ybarra, Kobe Paez, Keegan Hessler, Elijah Blanco, Sabian Harsh, Luke Ferguson, Genaro Gurrola, Coach Miller. 
For the third year in a row, Scottsbluff turned a district team wrestling championship into a top-three-finish in the Class B State Tournament at CenturyLink Center in Omaha.
And for the second time, the Bearcats finished second to Class B dynasty Omaha Skutt Catholic, which won its fourth straight title and 17th in 18 years by a mere 1.5 points over Scottsbluff.

Led by senior second-time state champion Keegan Hessler and sophomore first-time champion Ben Rodriguez, the Bearcats placed six of their eight state qualifiers and amassed 117.5 points. Plattsmouth finished third, 1.5 points behind Scottsbluff.
“Yes, a lot,” Scottsbluff coach James Miller said of the sting caused by Bearcats’ narrow runner-up finish.

“The thing is, you go back and think about all the shouldas, wouldas and couldas. It just comes down to the fact that when you’re in a situation like that, you have to start thinking about those things from the very beginning of the tournament and not wait until the very end to make up those points.”

One Bearcat who redeemed himself from his “coulda” from last season was Hessler, who won state at 113 as a sophomore and was second at 126 before settling in at 120 this season.
“He’s a two-time state champ and a three-time finalist, and that’s a huge accomplishment in a high school career,” Miller said of Hessler, who will wrestle at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa.

Hessler scored a first-round technical fall of 18-3 with just eight seconds left in the match, then he scored an 8-0 major decision to advance to the semifinals.
Hessler then scored a 4-0 shutout decision over Skutt’s Jeff Heinz to set up a championship match against Paxton Sternberg of Blair. Hessler’s second 8-0 major decision of the tournament clinched his second state championship and gives him a 43-6 record on the season.

“He controlled all the situations that came up,” Miller said of Hessler’s championship match. “Keegan just went out there and knew he should make the finals. He did a great job of going through, and he was on a mission.”
Rodriguez, who entered state as the District B-4 runner-up, needed more than extra time to clinch his first state medal and championship when he scored a 2-1 victory over Zach Prall of Plattsmouth in the 132-pound final.

“He went out there and just scrapped with the kid the whole match,” Miller said of Rodriguez. “There were a couple situations where we thought we could’ve gotten points, but they just got into some crazy scrambles. It was really fun to watch.”
Rodriguez, 32-9 on the season, started his quest toward the title with a 9-1 major decision and then scored a 3-1 decision over Skutt’s Frank Deloa to make the semifinals.

Another decision, this time a 9-4 count over Gretna’s Dan Zeleny, put Rodriguez into his epic championship bout against Prall.
“Ben had a great match against Skutt in the semis, and that was a huge head-to-head win over them and a great win for him individually,” Miller said of Rodriguez, who was made well in his second trip to state.

Also in his second state tournament was Bearcat 126-pound sophomore Robert Price, who opened with a pin fall with one second left in the second period and then scored a 4-3 decision in the quarterfinals.
Price edged Josh Velasquez of Bennington 4-3 in the semifinals, which put him against 40-1 Joe Berg of West Point-Beemer.

“Rob wrestled really well all weekend long,” Miller said of Price. “He did a great job of putting together a string of wins.”
Berg, however, put an end to Price’s string of victories, pinning the Bearcat 37 seconds into the third period. Price concluded the state tournament with a 29-19 season record.

“To get Joe Berg in the finals is a tough draw; that kid is solid,” Miller said. “It was good for Rob to make the finals. He’s worked hard and put in a lot of time in the offseason, so it was good for him to have some success.”
The Harsh brothers both completed bronze-medal runs after senior Sabian overcame a second-period pin in the 160-pound first round to eventual sixth-place finisher Josh Reimers of Grand Island Northwest and worked his way all the way back into the consolation final.

Sabian scored a pin fall in 1:15, a 7-1 decision, a 9-2 decision and a 1:38 pin fall in making the consolation final, where he scored an 8-2 decision over Marcus Dodson of Columbus Scotus to clinch his second third-place medal.
Sophomore Salem Harsh, who was sixth at 120 last year, had a relatively easier time in earning his third-place medal at 138 pounds. Salem (40-12) had opened with a 57-second pin fall and a 9-2 decision in the quarterfinals.

Salem (40-12) worked his way back from a 4-2, semifinal decision loss to Andrew Null of Plattsmouth – the eventual runner-up to undefeated Derek Robb of Sidney – to score a 6-4 decision in the consolation semifinals before he claimed third place with an 8-2 decision over Jesus Cervantes of West Point-Beemer.

“Sabian and Salem both had great tournaments to come back and get after they had some tough losses, so it was great to see everybody compete so well,” Miller said. Sabian Harsh was third at 145 as a sophomore and fifth at 160 last year.
Freshman Mario Ybarra, a district champion a week earlier, had the most successful tournament among Scottsbluff’s three state novices, turning in a fifth-place finish at 113 pounds. Ybarra (39-12) scored a 1-0 decision over Plattsmouth’s Ronald Taylor in the fifth-place match.

“Mario was in a situation where he was in a tight match in the consolation semis (a 2-1 loss to Preston Jurgens of Beatrice) that if he would have won, that would have put him in for third and fourth, and that would have given him a huge piece of confidence as well,” Miller said.
Ybarra had advanced to the semifinals, where he lost an 11-3 major decision to Skutt’s Korbin Meink, the eventual 113-pound champion.

On his way to the semifinals, Ybarra scored a 45-second pin fall and a 4-2 decision.
Miller said all six of the Bearcats’ returning state qualifiers – sophomore Kobe Paez (1-2 at 170) and freshman Elijah Blanco (1-2 at 145) were Scottsbluff’s other first-time qualifiers– can learn from that 1.5-point deficit in the team standings, that can be so close but yet so far from a school championship.

“It’s a good lesson for our younger guys,” Miller said. “Out of our eight state qualifiers, six are coming back, so it’s something they need to keep those things in the back of their minds next year when we’re down in Omaha again, that when you have a chance to pick up a pin or a tech fall or a major, we have to take advantage of those things. You never know when it’s going to come in handy.”

The Bearcats had at least one state champion for the sixth straight year, multiple champs for the fourth time in five years and eighth multiple-championship performance. As a team, the Bearcats earned their ninth top-three finish, their fourth second-place finish and came within those elusive 1.5 points from winning the program’s first title since 1989 and third overall.

“But it was great to see the kids go down there and compete as well as they did, and they were able to get rewarded for it,” Miller said.

Scottsbluff, by virtue of its third consecutive district championship, qualified for the third annual Class B State Dual Championships at the University of Nebraska at Kearney on Saturday. The Bearcats enter the eight-team, three-round tourney as the No. 7 seed and will meet West Point-Beemer in the first round,
“West Point-Beemer is a good draw for us,” said Miller, whose team suffered a 36-27 loss in the Scottsbluff Duals to WP-B. “The kids are focused and they’re ready to go. They want to wrestle, so I look forward to that first dual in Kearney.”

Gering pair eliminated early

Gering senior Marcelino Ramos’s second trip to state started out well, with the 106-pound Ramos scoring a first-round pin fall in 1:11 over Rodrigo Carvajal of Schuyler.
However, Ramos suffered a 6-3 decision in the quarterfinals to eventual 106-pound champ Max Hughes of Syracuse and lost by an injury forfeit to conclude his season at 34-7.

“It was two good kids going at it,” Behrens said of Ramos’ match against Hughes. “We were in it until the very end. We just didn’t end up on top.”
Freshman Aaron Tovar (14-19) lost a pair of decisions, 3-0 and 2-0, to non-medalists to finish his first state-qualifying season at 14-19.
“I think the boys wrestled well up there,” second-year Gering coach Jj Behrens said. “Aaron, coming out of a 4 seed, wrestled a great match against a No. 1 seed from Nebraska City. He was in both his matches, so it’s something to definitely build off for next year.”

Behrens had a freshman-dominated roster this season and said he looks forward to see how they do in offseason competitions in preparing for next winter.
“The kids are excited for next year,” he said. “We already have their team goals set for summer how many camps they want to go to. I think given a week off, they would be ready to go next week.”

Mitchell’s Gilliland, Bayard’s Araujo medal in Class C

Mitchell junior Drew Gilliland finished the Class C tournament in sixth place at 126 pounds after he had won the District C-4 championship and entered state with a 40-1 record.
Gilliland, who finished fourth last year at 113 pounds and fifth as a freshman at 106, lost the fifth-place match when he was pinned 10 seconds into the second period. He had lost a 7-3 decision in the consolation semifinals to third-place finisher Nick Gonzalez of Wakefield.

Gilliland had advanced to the semifinals, were he suffered a pin fall in 2:12 to eventual champion Doyle Trout of Centennial (46-3), with a 5-2 decision victory in the first round and a quarterfinal pin fall in 1:47.
Bayard 113-pound freshman Alex Araujo also finished sixth, the only Tiger among six who qualified for state to medal. Araujo (39-7) finished the fifth-place match on the short end of a 14-2 major decision.

Araujo lost in a consolation semifinal pin fall at 1:46 to third-place finisher Austin Olson of Minden, who defeated Araujo by pin fall in their District C-4 championship match.

Araujo had advanced to the semifinals with a 7-0, first-round decision victory and a 4-2, sudden-victory quarterfinal win. He lost in the semis in 1:42 to Christian Miller of Plainview, the eventual 113-pound champion at 38-1.
O’Neill won the Class C team title with 107 points, edging District C-4 champion Valentine by two points. Bayard finished in 36th with 14 points and Mitchell was tied for 38th with 11 points.

Morrill pair claim Class D sixth-place medals

Morrill senior Matthew Hessler finished his second state medal-winning career with a sixth-place finish at 285 pounds/heavyweight in the Class D tournament, while junior teammate Elvariste Gomez also finished sixth for the Lions, who finished with 21 points and in a tie for 34th place.
Gomez (32-8) lost his fifth-place match at 170 pounds on a 7-2 decision to Jacob Klingelhoefer of Amherst, whose team was the runaway champion with 201 points. Friend was the distant runner-up with 95.5 points.

Hessler, who finished fourth as a junior, lost a 7-5 decision in the fifth-place match after he had dropped a sudden-victory decision in the consolation semifinals to Scott Adams of Freeman, the eventual third-place finisher.
Hessler’s championship dreams were ended in the semifinals, when he lost a 5-3 decision to Zachary Zeleski of Overton, the eventual runner-up. Hessler opened his tournament with a pin fall in 3:14 and advanced with a pin with 25 seconds remaining in his quarterfinal match.

Gomez opened action at 170 with a 13-1 major decision but lost in the quarterfinals on a 12-1 major decision to Patrick Dempsey of Friend, the eventual 170-pound state champ.
Gomez battled his way through the wrestlebacks with a pin fall in 1:44 and a 3-2 decision before he took a 9-2 decision loss in the consolation semifinals to Garrett Sonderup of Fullerton, who went on to finish third.



Share this story on Facebook
LOGIN or REGISTER for exclusive access to premium content

Good Evening friend!
Recently Read Sports
853Bearcats come close to state wrestling championship Hessler wins second title, Rodriguez first in leading runner-up Scottsbluff’s six medalists
982State basketball opening game
959Area wrestlers compete well in large tournaments
983Scottsbluff scores big victory by running over Hastings
978Morrill vaulter soars high at Bayard C-D meet
1031Seacat Selvey wins top honors in Lincoln
984Gering girls third in Twilight meet
2133Morrill Lions move to eight-man offers opportunity
985Lions to build on training
1154Library hosts talk on Louise Pound
985UNMC surgeon: pitcher injuries preventable
652B&C Steel Junior 36ers head to state after 3-2 win
987WNCC women's basketball team go 3-0 at Colby tourney
1331Scottsbluff’s roster boasts speed, depth
641GNAC Tournament proves tough for soccer teams: Scottsbluff teams both finish 6th, Gering teams 7th after all earn splits in consolation play
986Legion baseball teams open season this week
740WNCC men fall to Lamar 84-81
1128Scottsbluff goes 1-1 at home tennis triangular
988Scottsbluff slips past Hastings in 21-13 thriller
689Senior Legion team faces defeat against Westco Zephyrs
Most Read Sports 2012
3922Mitchell track off to a strong start
3799Morrill baseball back in business
3204Rivals make good friends, better training partners
2995Mendoza spirit lives on in softball tournament
2912Gering wrestling builds on experience
2812Bulldogs basketball ready to run Class B gauntlet
2643Raising the bar high
2597Gering breaks two records at Chadron: Track season gets underway at Chadron Indoor Meet
2581Kizzire and Kautz take first place
2575Gering resident lives his dream
2552All Points West: Time to get tough Huskers
2465All Points West: We’ll miss 2016 seniors
2405Doing the heavy lifting
2347Basketball girls hungry for more wins
2309Gering girls’ soccer team creating team first attitude
2299Cougars clench 18th straight Region IX title
2249Beam to golf at Midland
2222Sterkel Colorado bound, inks with Rangers
2133Morrill Lions move to eight-man offers opportunity
2076Mud Volleyball has another wildly successful year
Most Read Sports 2011
3922Mitchell track off to a strong start
3799Morrill baseball back in business
3204Rivals make good friends, better training partners
2995Mendoza spirit lives on in softball tournament
2912Gering wrestling builds on experience
2812Bulldogs basketball ready to run Class B gauntlet
2643Raising the bar high
2597Gering breaks two records at Chadron: Track season gets underway at Chadron Indoor Meet
2581Kizzire and Kautz take first place
2575Gering resident lives his dream
2552All Points West: Time to get tough Huskers
2465All Points West: We’ll miss 2016 seniors
2405Doing the heavy lifting
2347Basketball girls hungry for more wins
2309Gering girls’ soccer team creating team first attitude
2299Cougars clench 18th straight Region IX title
2249Beam to golf at Midland
2222Sterkel Colorado bound, inks with Rangers
2133Morrill Lions move to eight-man offers opportunity
2076Mud Volleyball has another wildly successful year
Platte Valley Companies
Fresh Foods
Hale Multimedia LLC
Spectrum Photo
Kendell Henderson
= = = Platte Valley Companies' = = =
Sports Page

Check out the
Gering Bulldogs on