Skutt stays unbeaten in home tournament

Omaha Burke’s Justice Bridgeford, top, wrestles Omaha Skutt’s Landon Gotschall in the 152-pound weight class on Saturday.

There’s something about this weekend every year at Omaha Skutt.

The Class B No. 1 SkyHawks on Saturday again won the Jesse Greise Skyhawk Invitational — its own tournament. Skutt has never lost the tournament, in its 17th year (the last eight named after the late Skyhawk wrestler).

“It’s a point of pride,” Skutt coach Brad Hildebrandt said. “This is always a powerful day.”

That would be a good way to describe his team’s showing, as well. For the third straight season, Skutt narrowly outscored Omaha Burke, ranked second in Class A.

The SkyHawks crowned four champions, while Burke had three. Class A No. 6 Lincoln Southwest also had four winners in a third-place team finish.

It wasn’t until the closing match of the tournament that Skutt sealed its victory.

“Jeez, it was tight,” Hildebrandt said. “There were some really good wrestlers here today. We had to scratch and claw for this one.”

Brian Peska (106 pounds), JT Sloboth (113), Nick Hollins (160) and Nick Jensen (195) won titles for the SkyHawks, Class B state champions 14 of the last 15 seasons. Hildebrandt’s group was coming off a team title at a tournament in Platte County, Mo.

Burke’s champions were top-ranked 126-pounder Jacob Wilcoxen, fellow senior Justice Bridgeford (ranked No. 1 at 152), and 170-pound Joe Contreras, ranked No. 5.

The Bulldogs were, however, without a couple of key guys. Aaron Fletcher, No. 3 at 113, and second-ranked 145-pounder Jordan Hammond did not wrestle Saturday. Fletcher is a defending state champion and Hammond was a state finalist.

Hammond’s absence prevented a possible match-up of the top two wrestlers at that weight class. Southwest’s Kenny Martin remained undefeated and went on to win the 145-pound title. Martin, a senior, was also named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler.

Teammates Keegan Williams (120), Conrad Harker (220) and Eric Oltman (285) also won championships for Lincoln Southwest.

Class A No. 9 Omaha Creighton Prep had a pair of champions in Hayden Hanson, ranked fourth at 132, and No. 1 182-pounder Jake Anderson. The Junior Jays finished fourth in the team standings.

Ronald Wells won eighth-ranked Omaha Central’s only title. The two-time state champion, ranked No. 1 at 138, won by injury default over third-ranked Jared Green of Burke in the finals.

Team scores: Omaha Skutt 211, Omaha Burke 193, Lincoln Southwest 175, Omaha Creighton Prep 118, Plattsmouth 93.5, Omaha Central 87.5, Boys Town 61.

Bracket champions: 106: Brian Peska, Omaha Skutt. 113: JT Sloboth, Omaha Skutt. 120: Keegan Williams, Lincoln Southwest. 126: Jacob Wilcoxen, Omaha Burke. 132: Hayden Hanson, Omaha Creighton Prep. 138: Ronald Wells, Omaha Central. 145: Kenny Martin, Lincoln Southwest. 152: Justice Bridgeford, Omaha Burke. 160: Nick Hollins, Omaha Skutt. 170: Joseph Contreras, Omaha Burke. 182: Jake Anderson, Omaha Creighton Prep. 195: Nick Jensen, Omaha Skutt. 220: Conrad Harker, Lincoln Southwest. 285: Eric Oltman, Lincoln Southwest.

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