COUNCIL BLUFFS — Trent Paulson hasn't wrestled his final match in front of a hometown crowd.
And the Council Bluffs Lewis Central and Iowa State graduate isn't the only former high school and college standout returning to compete in the Omaha area.
The inaugural Victory Wrestling Challenge will boast a strong regional flavor when the exhibition gets underway at Ralston Arena at 7:30 p.m. Friday. At least 10 of the 12 bouts will include athletes with grappling ties to Nebraska or Iowa.
That number would have been even higher had Trent's twin brother, Travis, not pulled out of his 185-pound match this week because of injury. But the night will still be a blast from the past for many longtime Midwest wrestling fans, with a portion of each ticket sold going to USA Wrestling, the governing body for the sport in the U.S.
The evening will feature a set card of showcases — with no brackets or wrestlebacks included. While three matches have yet to be determined, at least nine will be freestyle contests and one Greco-Roman. Six different participants are past collegiate champions.
Among the notables at each weight:
» 45 pounds: Raufeon Stots vs. Montell Marion. Stots is a former two-time champion at UNK, while Marion once wrestled for Iowa.
Laramie Shaffer vs. Tyler Bell. Shaffer competed at Iowa State, and Bell wrestled at York College.
» 163 pounds: Trent Paulson vs. Nick Marable. Paulson won titles at Lewis Central and Iowa State and is the head coach for the Cyclone Wrestling Club. Marable is a one-time Missouri standout.
Ridge Kiley vs. Eli Dominguez. An all-Nebraska battle here, with Kiley a four-year starter for the Huskers and Dominguez a past All-American at UNO.
» 185: Gennady Kolesnikov vs. George Ivanov. Kolesnikov is a Russian native getting his first chance to compete in the U.S., while Ivanov is a former Lewis Central grad and UNO wrestler who finished his career at Boise State.
» 211: Ty Copsey vs. Deron Winn. Copsey is a Glenwood, Iowa, native and Augustana grad facing Winn, who is a former two-time juco national champ at St. Louis-Meremac.
Evan Brown vs. Josh Ihnen. Brown is a past NCAA Division III champ at Dubuque who draws Ihnen, an accomplished Nebraska wrestler and 2012 All-American.
» 264: Les Sigman vs. Jarod Trice. Sigman is a four-time D-II champ at UNO going against Central Michigan alum and three-time All-American Jarod Trice.
» 163 Greco: Justin “Harry” Lester vs. Esai Dominguez. Lester is a two-time World bronze medalist and 2012 Olympian taking on Dominguez, an Omaha native and three-time D-II All-American at UNO.