Harrison Phillips was looking for a couple of wins. Will Schany wanted a medal of any variety.
What they came back with was much more.
The Nebraska high school juniors turned some heads over the weekend in national championship performances at the Virginia Beach Junior Nationals.
Phillips, of Millard West, won the heavyweight bracket and Blair’s Schany took home the 170-pound class in what is annually a tournament filled with quality wrestlers from around the nation.
“That was a true national test for me,” said Schany, a three-time state champion in Nebraska. “What I was really going out there for was to see how I matched up with national competition. It was fun and obviously a great experience.”
Schany has been on the national radar for almost a year. He cracked Intermat magazine’s national rankings in 2012 and hasn’t left since. He has interest from Nebraska, Iowa State, Rutgers, Pitt, Princeton and Oklahoma.
The 57-man bracket Schany dealt with in Virginia Beach included 14 state champions.
“I just wanted to get out there and get a medal,” Schany said. “That was my goal.”
Phillips didn’t have his sights set that high. A relative unknown on the national level, the Division I football prospect weighed in just shy of 245 pounds, 40 less than the heavyweight limit.
But Phillips impressed, beating a state champion from Pennsylvania in the quarterfinals to set up a semifinal match with Jesse Webb of Vermont.
With only four juniors ahead of him in the Intermat ratings and two Virginia Beach national titles already on his record, Webb was considered the favorite. He had gone 54-0 as a junior.
Phillips won the match 7-6.
“There was just less doubt after that,” Phillips said. “I won’t see too much competition like this. If I want to have the best competition, I need to go to these kinds of tournament.”
Always considered a football prospect, Phillips said he’s already begun hearing from some big-name schools about wrestling.
That remains a nice backup plan, he said.
“It’s not my number one option,” Phillips said, “but it’s a great feeling to know that if something weird happens I still have wrestling.”
As of now, Phillips said, he holds eight offers. Included in that list are Kansas State, Florida Atlantic, Ohio and Yale.
Nebraska has said it wants to see more of Phillips at its summer camp to decide if it will look at him as a defensive tackle or a defensive end. Although he said he feels an offer from NU is “likely,” Phillips said he continues to look at other programs very seriously.
He’ll be at Wisconsin over the weekend and is planning on visiting Iowa shortly after. The Ivy League route — where he could play football and wrestle — is also intriguing for Phillips.
“I’m looking at other options very, very seriously,” he said. “There’s no hurry, though. Nebraska has said they’re being very selective with defensive ends in this class. You never know. You could go to one of these places and fall in love with it.”
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