Omaha North’s JaVaughn Perkins was motivated coming into Saturday’s Vern Ekfelt Invitational. He wrestled like it in his championship match.
Perkins, a junior who is a two-time state champion, controlled Tri-Center’s Loren Williams, a two-time Iowa state champion, for a 7-0 decision in the 160-pound final.
“He beat me last year, so I knew I had to come back and redeem myself,” Perkins said. “I worked hard after football to come in here and get the job done.”
Williams earned a 4-3 decision over Perkins last season in the Ekfelt 152-pound final. Less than three months after that match, both went on to repeat as state champions.
North coach Anders Christensen saw during practice this week that Perkins would be focused when the rematch came around.
“Right when we figured out (Williams) was going 160, (Perkins) was a different kid,” Christensen said.
Perkins set the tone for Saturday’s final late in the first period. Both spent the opening period patiently looking for opportunities, and Perkins took his shot in the closing seconds. He recorded a takedown with two seconds left.
“That takedown was a momentum change,” Perkins said. “After that, I knew I would have to score more points on top. He’s a strong wrestler, good on his feet. I knew I had to control the match from on top.”
Perkins’ lead was 3-0 after the second period and then he added some back points in the third period.
“I really didn’t see it coming,” Williams said of the first-period takedown. “Once he got that takedown, it was just a matter of riding it out.”
While Perkins has his sights set on becoming a four-time state champion, Williams looks for his third title before heading to Iowa State next season. Williams signed with the Cyclones just before Thanksgiving.
“It takes a lot of pressure off me,” said Williams of signing before the season. “It will be a good fit for me.”
Perkins helped North win the team title as five Vikings — Robert Ozuna (113), Mensah Olloway (120), Perkins (160), JaCobi Jones (170) and DeValon Whitcomb (195) — won weight classes. North’s day was capped by Whitcomb, who trailed 7-1 after the first period but stormed back to pin Central’s Miles Russell with 13 seconds left in the match.
“We wrestled hard, we wrestled six minutes every match. We gave it our all,” Christensen said. “Our strength is in our depth.”
North finished with 162 points, followed by Central with 141.5. Central had individual champions in Markell Vaughn (138) and Ronald Wells (145). Third-place Bellevue East also had five champions — Gunnar Byous (106), AJ Thrower (126), Sam Simpson (132), John Porter (152) and Austin Anderson (220).
Team scoring: Omaha North 162, Omaha Central 141.5, Bellevue East 123.5, Millard North 119, Tri-Center 90.5, Omaha Westside 61, Omaha South 54, Papio South 50, Lincoln Northeast 32.5.
Championship matches: 106: Gunnar Byous, BE, dec. LeeRoy Coughran, ON, 14-10. 113: Robert Ozuna, ON, major dec. Christian Polley, TC, 18-8. 120: Mensah Olloway, ON, dec. Roger Linn, MN, 12-7. 126: AJ Thrower, BE, dec. Louden Adkins, OC, 9-4. 132: Sam Simpson, BE, pinned Erick Vargas, OW, 1:58. 138: Markell Vaughn, OC, pinned Fernando Vargas, OW, 2:52. 145: Ronald Wells, OC, dec. Darrian Irlbeck, TC, 7-6. 152: John Porter, BE, dec. Reggie Holt-Wesley, ON, 4-3. 160: JaVaughn Perkins, ON, dec. Loren Williams, TC, 7-0. 170: JaCobi Jones, ON, pinned Kolbie Foster, OC, :47. 182: Ben Wellman, TC, pinned Cristian Ruiz, OS, 4:25. 195: DeValon Whitcomb, ON, pinned Miles Russell, OC, 5:47. 220: Austin Anderson, BE, pinned Josh Frezell, OC, 3:43. 285: Jacob Wohlers, TC, pinned Jermaine Kelly, OC, :58.