OMAHA — Nearly guaranteed a third straight top-five finish at the Class B state tournament, the Scottsbluff wrestling team enters today’s final rounds of action with much bigger aspirations.
With three Bearcats competing for individual championships, and three more battling for medals in the consolation rounds, Scottsbluff is still in position to make a strong run at its first state team title in 24 years.
Scottsbluff sits second in the team standings with 95 points. Defending champion Omaha Skutt Catholic leads the way with 117.5.
While it will be quite a challenge to overtake the SkyHawks, Scottsbluff coach James Miller said it’s certainly realistic.
“We need all of our guys to perform well,” Miller said of today’s strategy to catch Skutt. “Realistically we’re not out of it, but it will take everybody contributing in order for us to win the state title.”
After advancing five into Friday night’s semifinal round at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Scottsbluff pushed three into today’s finals. Wrestling for individual titles for the Bearcats will be Cruz Delacruz at 106 pounds, Keegan Hessler at 113, and Colton Adams at 132.
Also competing for state titles today will be Alliance’s Tyson Dowler at 152 and Chadron’s Colby Riesen at 160.
Scottsbluff’s Adams advanced into his third straight state final, and made it look easy in the process. The two-time state champion recorded a 22-8 major decision win over York’s Cody Rhodes in his semifinal. Adams led 8-2 after one period before quickly pushing his advantage to 14-5 after two periods.
“Colton took care of business,” Miller said. “He was very aggressive and physical in his match. He didn’t get the pin, but he ended up winning decisively in a great manner.”
Adams, who improved to 55-1, will face off against Cozad’s Clay Trejo in the final. Adams pinned Trejo at last week’s district tournament in Sidney.
Both Delacruz and Hessler also picked up major decision wins in their semifinals to move into the final.
Delacruz beat Plattsmouth’s Zach Prall 15-5, while Hessler shut out Blair’s Alec Gibson, 9-0.
“I thought it was fabulous that Keegan and Cruz got into the finals,” Miller said. “Cruz had a couple of great scrambles to end up getting a win. Keegan controlled his match decisively by getting some takedowns and putting together some near-fall combinations that were rather impressive.”
Hessler will face off against Skutt’s JT Sloboth in the 113 final, and Delacruz will take on Skutt’s Brian Peska for the title at 106.
Miller said both of those title matches will offer chances for the Bearcats to pick up crucial points over the SkyHawks.
“We match up with Skutt at 106 and 113, so we kind of control our own destiny with those two matches,” he said. “With those two matches, and guys in the wrestle backs, there are still a lot of points out there to be won.”
Scottsbluff’s Joseph Flores-Ybarra and Andrew Aratani both fell short in their semifinal matches.
Flores-Ybarra suffered a tough 3-2 double-overtime setback to Cozad’s Brian Messersmith at 120, while Aratani was pinned by Syracuse’s Matt Clark at 285.
“I’m very proud of the guys and with how they’ve been wrestling,” Miller said. “It would be nice to see them keep competing well [today] and not settle.”
Alliance’s Dowler, a senior who now owns a season record of 31-0, registered a hard-fought 3-2 decision over Adams Central’s Derek Lonowski in his 152-semifinal match. He will take on Cozad’s Logan Hunke in the final.
Chadron’s Riesen, also a senior, recorded a 6-2 decision over Fairbury’s Dylan Knigge in his semifinal at 160. Riesen (43-3) will face off with Plattsmouth’s Nick Null today in the final.
Riesen was almost joined in the championship round by teammate Chance Bila. However, Bila lost a heartbreaking 9-8 decision to Beatrice’s Chance Helmick in the 170 semifinals.
In addition to Dowler, Alliance had three others wrestling in semifinal action. Devin Ushio lost an 8-0 major decision to Bennington’s Brett Velasquez at 120, Walker Johnson was pinned by Seward’s Tanner Oborny at 126, and Dawson Johnson lost a 17-0 technical fall to Plattsmouth’s Null at 160.
Alliance is eighth in the team standings with 60.5 points and Chadron is 10th with 51.
A number of other local wrestlers picked up three wins each in the wrestle backs on Friday to stay in position to win medals. They include Scottsbluff’s Sabian Harsh at 145, Gering’s Baily Hort at 113, Alliance’s Tyler Smith at 138, Sidney’s Tanner Wintholz at 195, and Chadron’s Willy Cogdill at 152.