Roommates and teammates at the University of Nebraska, Ridge Kiley and Josh Ihnen figured their days of competing at the same wrestling event were done after the 2013 NCAA championships.
But both competed — and won — at the inaugural Victory Wrestling Challenge on Friday night at Ralston Arena.
Ihnen, a 2012 All-American for the Huskers, earned a 3-1 decision over Evan Brown, the sixth-ranked U.S. Senior at 211 pounds, while Kiley decisioned former UNO wrestler Eli Dominguez 7-5. It was the first time either Ihnen or Kiley had competed since March.
“I felt the pull to compete in front of an audience again,” said Kiley, who has started his own business in Lincoln. “It was worth it. I forgot how tired you get in an event setting than just in the practice room.”
Kiley led Dominguez 7-2 after the first period before holding on for the win. Ihnen and Brown were tied 1-1 before Ihnen scored a takedown in extra time.
“I had no idea he was ranked until after the match,” said Ihnen, who works at Union Pacific in Omaha. “It was fun to go out and just wrestle. It’s nice to wrestle without any pressure.”
Friday’s event featured eight matches pitting former college wrestlers, including a number of All-Americans, against one another.
In the feature match, former Iowa State All-American and Council Bluffs native Trent Paulson decisioned former Missouri All-American Nick Marable 4-2. Paulson is ranked fifth nationally at 163 pounds, while Marable is seventh.
Friday was the fifth time Paulson and Marable have squared off. Paulson has won four of them.
“I think this is the toughest he’s ever wrestled me,” Paulson said. “He really wanted this one because he’s training full time and I’m concentrating more on coaching.”
Marable scored a takedown within the first 10 seconds of Friday’s match, but Paulson took a 3-2 lead less than two minutes into the match and scored the only point in the second period.
“He caught me reaching a little bit,” Paulson said of the early takedown. “I just had to calm down and start working my offense.”
In the Greco-Roman match, Justin “Harry” Lester, a 2012 Olympian, earned a 10-0 first-period technical fall over former Maverick Esai Dominguez.
Originally there were 10 matches scheduled, but Travis Paulson, Trent’s brother, couldn’t compete because of an injury, and former UNO All-American Les Sigman didn’t wrestle because of illness.
“I think for the most part it was a success,” Trent Paulson said of the inaugural event, which drew an estimated 1,200 fans. “I wish the stands were full, but the fans who were here made it seem full because they were loud.”
145: Montell Marion dec. Raufeon Stots 5-2; 163: Rob Sanders dec. Joe Ellenberger 11-4. 163: Ridge Kiley dec. Eli Dominguez 7-5. 163: Trent Paulson dec. Nick Marable 4-2. 185: George Ivanov dec. Gennady Kolesnikov 9-2. 211: Deron Winn tech. fall Ty Copsey 12-0. 211: Josh Ihnen dec. Evan Brown 3-1.
163: Justin Lester tech. fall Esai Dominguez 10-0.