MITCHELL — Gering wrestling coach Randy Hughes wasn’t quite sure what to expect heading into the final round of the Mitchell Invite on Saturday.
Deadlocked with Gothenburg — and with Lingle-Ft. Laramie nipping at their heels — the Bulldogs put four wrestlers into the finals and walked away with three individual crowns to win the tournament title with 115 points.
“We went into the final round just four and a half points ahead of Gothenburg, and Lingle-Ft. Laramie had a lot of guys,” Hughes said. “It was kind of a horserace there toward the end. We just had several guys come up big, which was really fun for us. We really didn’t know until after that final round was over. If our guys had folded, we could have ended up second. But they pulled through and pulled through in a big way.”
After enduring a couple of tough dual losses to Alliance and Torrington this past week, Hughes said his team responded well on Saturday.
“I feel somewhat vindicated. I’m just real happy with the wrestlers,” he said. “I know that some of the guys have been struggling and it seemed like we just didn’t have everybody clicking all at once and today we kind of put it all together as a team. It was a team effort.”
Gering crowned a trio of champions on Saturday starting with Baily Hort at 113 pounds. Hort pinned his way through the bracket, recording a first-period pin over Morrill’s Justus Peterson in the semifinals, then pinning Tyler Alvarez of Gothenburg in 51 seconds in the final match.
Jake Rexus followed Hort’s lead at 160, going 3-0 in the tournament after pinning Julian Preston, the top seed from Southeast, Wyo., in 4:45 to take the individual honor. Gering’s final champion came at 170 when junior Elijah Timblin shook out the cobwebs of a first-round bye to pin Sidney’s Kane Taylor in 1:01 in the semifinals. Timblin knotted up with Skyler Kottwitz of Gothenburg in the finals, defeating the Swede by a major 13-5 decision en route to the crown.
Hughes believes the tournament win is just what the Bulldogs needed heading into the final stretch of the season.
“We’ve got a little momentum going into the last week of competition and going into the final season,” Hughes added. “It’s just what the doctor ordered.”
Gering finished the day on a solid note, placing seven wrestlers in the top four spots. Marcelino Ramos grabbed second place at 120; Damian Hort ended the day in fourth place at 132; Quentin Timblin wrestled back to finish in third place at 145; and Christian Pester rounded out the 195-pound class with fourth place.
Lingle-Ft Laramie also had a stellar day, picking up 101 points to finish second. The Doggers finished with one champion after Wyatt Hageman won by major decision, 14-1, over Jacob Thompson of Hershey.
Mitchell finished with three individual champions. Drew Gilliland picked up a 1-0 decision over Lingle-Ft. Laramie’s Thomas Garvie in the championship match at 106. Josh Zulkoski pinned Gering’s Ramos in 3:17 to win the 120-pound class; and freshman Braydon Wiedeman pinned Gothenburg’s Dalton Goodwin in 5:11 to win the 182-pound class.
Sidney’s Michael Muggli picked up a 7-2 win over Lingle-Ft. Laramie’s Lane Hageman to claim the top spot at 132; while Bridgeport’s Brandon Nichols improved his season record to 30-2 after pinning Sidney’s Nathaniel Votruba in 3:13 in the final match at 138.
Garden County finished with one individual champion on the day after Makay Beck pinned Gothenburg’s Dillon Larson in the first period to win the championship at 152.
Southeast’s lone champion on the day came at 195 pounds when Wyatt Somsen edged Bayard’s Tanner Willey, 12-8; and Banner County had one individual champion after David Gifford pinned Lingle-Ft. Laramie’s Riggen McIntosh in 4:59 to claim honors at 220 pounds.
Morrill’s Matthew Hessler finished the day on a high note for the Lions, taking home the hardware at 285 with a third-period fall over Hershey’s Lane Richardson.
Gering 115, LFL 101, Gothenburg 98.5, Mitchell 94.5, Sidney 92, Hershey 82.5, Bayard 71, Morrill 57, Southeast 55, Bridgeport 54, Banner County 27.5, Garden County 24, Hemingford 19.5, Kimball 13, Crawford 5, Minatare 0.
106 — 1, Drew Gilliland, Mitchell. 2, Thomas Garvie, LFL. 3, CJ Sidrow, Morrill. 4, Rowdy Keller, Kimball.
113 — 1, Baily Hort, Gering. 2, Tyler Alvarez, Gothenburg. 3, Lee Jespersen, Hemingford. 4, Garrett Ryan, Kimball.
120 — 1, Josh Zulkoski, Mitchell. 2, Marcelino Ramos, Gering. 3, Payton Baumann, Bridgeport. 4, Brandon Stevens, Gothenburg.
126 — 1, Chayton Crow, Hershey. 2, Dakota Swires, Bridgeport. 3, Seth Eggleston, Gothenburg. 4, Merritt Hageman, LFL.
132 — 1, Michael Muggli, Sidney. 2, Lane Hageman, LFL. 3, Matthew Unrein, Morrill. 4, Damian Hort, Gering.
138 — 1, Brandon Nichols, Bridgeport. 2, Nathaniel Votruba, Sidney. 3, Brody Lay, LFL. 4, Joseph Sheets-Sanford, Hershey.
145 — 1, Wyatt Hageman, LFL. 2, Jacob Thompson, Hershey. 3, Quentin Timblin, Gering. 4, Elvariste Gomez, Morrill.
152 — 1, Makay Beck, Garden Co. 2, Dillon Larson, Gothenburg. 3, Tanner Wernsman, Sidney. 4, Trenton Applegate, Bayard.
160 — 1, Jacob Rexus, Gering. 2, Julian Preston, Southeast. 3, Travis Willhoite, Bayard. 4, Ryan Wooley, Sidney.
170 — 1, Elijah Timblin, Gering. 2, Skyler Kottwitz, Gothenburg. 3, Tristan Hunter, Bayard. 4, Kane Taylor, Sidney.
182 — 1, Braydon Wiedeman, Mitchell. 2, Dalton Goodwin, Gothenburg. 3, Austin Willey, Bayard. 4. Matt McGahan, Hershey.
195 — 1, Wyatt Somsen, Southeast. 2, Tanner Willey, Bayard. 3, Adam Steffes, Hershey. 4, Christian Pester, Gering.
220 — 1, David Gifford, Banner Co. 2, Riggen McIntosh, LFL. 3, Scott Kelsey, Sidney. 4, Colten Stees, Southeast.
285 — 1, Matthew Hessler, Morrill. 2, Lane Richardson, Hershey. 3, Trey Sterkel, Mitchell. 4, Chris Wurm, Bayard.