Like most sports teams through a season, the Maxwell Wildcats saw their ups and downs throughout the year.
In the last week of the season — before today’s Nebraska State Dual Wrestling Tournament in Kearney — those ups and downs continued.
“Our last practice, on Wednesday, was the best practice we’ve had all season,” said Maxwell head coach Ryan Jones. “The guys were loose and we got a lot of stuff done.
“In fact, all the practices this week were really good.”
The problem was winter storm “Q.” School was called off for Maxwell both Thursday and Friday, which meant no practice for the Wildcats.
“It shouldn’t be a problem, but as a coach, I’m worried,” Jones said. “As long as they got workouts in and have done what they should, we should be fine.
“Without practice, I couldn’t check weights, so I’m a little concerned, but they all should be where they need to be weight-wise.”
Maxwell went into the wrestling season with a team goal of advancing to the inaugural dual state tournament. The Wildcats went 18-3 as a dual team, but struggled some in the district tournament.
“We were a little worried if we were going to have enough points to qualify,” Jones admitted. “We got in, and we’re really pleased that we did.
“We’re an eight-seed and we have our work cut out for us, we’re certainly underdogs, but it’s a huge step for our program.”
As the No. 8 seed, the Wildcats open the state tournament paired against state team champion Amherst in the first round.
“They are tough,” Jones said. “They had nine medalists at state — two state champions and six third place finishers — so we know we have to wrestle well.”
Jones said senior wrestlers Dylan Gage and Drew Riggs have been big for the Wildcats as they’ve prepared for the dual tournament.
“It wasn’t hard to get back into practice after the state tournament last weekend,” Jones said. “Those guys are our studs and we’ve ridden them to a lot of dual wins.
“They’ve shown great senior leadership this week and we’re as ready as we can be.”
A win, or loss, and the Wildcats will still be an underdog. Plainview and East Butler, the third and fourth place teams from last week’s state championships, are in the other bracket.
“So, if we lose, we have to get up and ready quick,” Jones said. “Being the No. 8 seed, we will be underdogs all day.”
The other teams in the Class D tournament are Pender, Bayard, High Plains and Neligh-Oakdale. The Class A and Class D tournament will take place beginning at 3 p.m. at the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
Lexington in Class B
The Minutemen qualified for the state dual tournament in Class B and will wrestle against Scottsbluff in the first round at 8 a.m. today.
Lexington is the No. 3 seed in Class B. The top seed is Omaha Skutt Catholic and the second seed is Nebraska City.
The other four teams in Class B are York, Alliance, Syracuse and Plattsmouth.