Don't get him wrong. Mike Schadwinkel liked the way his Grand Island wrestling team finished things before the holiday break.
It means little when looking at what the four-time defending Class A champions have left this season.
“To be honest,” Schadwinkel said, “it doesn't amount to a hill of beans.”
Schadwinkel's Islanders won three tournaments and dominated a pair of duals before beginning the mandatory five-day break last weekend.
Included was a title at the Flatwater Fracas, Grand Island's own dual tournament, in which the top-ranked Islanders shook an early deficit for a 40-19 win over No. 2 Omaha Burke.
The Bulldogs, considered a threat to Grand Island's Class A reign, led 16-3 before Schadwinkel's group ran off 37 of the final 40 points.
“I think what we took out of that was that we can go out there and beat them,” he said. “That doesn't mean we don't respect them or that we don't think they're a great team, because they are. We beat them in a dual in December. Big deal.”
The meat of Grand Island's schedule begins Saturday with the Tom Dineen Invitational at Omaha Creighton Prep. The finals are scheduled to begin at approximately 2 p.m.
The top two teams in the state again will face off — this time in an individual tournament format — a second opportunity for a Burke team that may be built more for tournament wrestling.
“We got round one,” Schadwinkel said. “Round two is (Saturday).”
Islander junior Chase Reis, ranked No. 1 at 195, said there is a mentality that comes with being defending champions.
“We still take pride in that,” Reis said. “We know we're going for five, though, and we have a big target on our back.”
Perhaps the most anticipated match Saturday may come at 126, where there could be a rematch of defending state champions.
In the previous meeting at the Fracas, Grand Island's Trey Trujillo (ranked third) and Jake Wilcoxen (No. 1) of Burke were tied 1-1 in the third period when Trujillo used a front trip to earn a pin in the final 30 seconds.
With a field that also includes No. 8 Prep, Saturday figures to give Grand Island the first of many post-Christmas tests.
The Islanders travel to the Iowa City duals next weekend, go to Newton, Kan., for the Tournament of Champions the following weekend, have a dual against Class B No. 7 Aurora and then travel to the Top of the Rockies, a Colorado tournament that is traditionally one of the tougher ones around.
“We're going to have our hands full every week until state,” Schadwinkel said. “We're going to be very challenged over the next month. With our kids going through all of this, we want them coming out stronger on the other side.”
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