Each of the last two seasons, Preston Lauterbach has run into the eventual state champion.
The Bellevue West senior is hoping to be the guy with the gold that others run into this time.
Lauterbach, ranked No. 1 in Class A at 170 pounds, won a pair of Thursday matches by pin (each in less than two minutes) to move into Friday night’s semifinals for the third straight season.
But he’s still after his first gold medal at state.
“It’s motivation, absolutely,” Lauterbach said of his close calls.
Unbeaten on the season, Lauterbach is looking to keep the 170-pound title at Bellevue West. Former teammate Chris Luehring won last year.
As a sophomore, Lauterbach reached the championship match, only to lose to Grand Island’s Carlos Rodriguez-Bueno, a two-time champ. Last year, Lauterbach fell in the semifinals to Northe Platte’s Zack Denney, who went on to tie his own Class A record for wins in a season in the title match.
Lauterbach wrestled both of those seasons with an injured shoulder. Last March he had a surgery that involved eight holes being drilled and ligaments reattached.
“It’s night and day,” Lauterbach said. “I was injured my freshman year, so for two years it affected me. I had no strength in my arm.”
He said he got into the weight room about six months after surgery and has added 150 pounds to his bench since.
On Thursday he disposed of second-ranked Grant Holscher of North Platte in the quarterfinals with a first-period pin. His reward is a meeting with Lincoln Southwest’s Jared Torell, No. 3 at 170, in the semifinals Friday.
“One match at a time,” Lauterbach said, detailing his outlook this week.
If he needed a little extra motivation, his dad Bob could provide it. As a senior from Columbus in 1987, Bob entered the state tournament ranked second in his weight class. In his first match at state, the older Lauterbach ended his title hopes by breaking his jaw while taking an opponent to the mat.
Two more wins would give son a leg up on dad.
“Oh he’s already got that,” Bob Lauterbach said with a laugh.
Next year Preston will follow in his father’s footsteps and wrestle at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. But there are a couple more wins to get first.
“The final goal,” Preston said.
Contact the writer:
402-850-0781, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/nickrubek