Scottsbluff splits in semifinals

Scottsbluff's Robert Price, left, tries to keep hold of Dan Zeleny's foot during their 132-pound semifinal match Friday. Zeleny, from Gretna, scored in the second period and rode out Price for an upset victory. Despite Price's loss, Scottsbluff has two wrestlers in Saturday's finals.

Scottsbluff moved two of its four Class B semifinalists into Saturday afternoon's finals.

It just wasn't the two most people expected.

Devontae Gutierrez opened the semifinals with an upset at 113 pounds, and Mario Ybarra followed suit at 126.

But just when it looked like the Bearcats were in line for a big night, their two state finalists from last season lost within 15 minutes after Ybarra's win.

"It was definitely a roller-coaster," Scottsbluff coach James Miller said.

Gutierrez, a freshman ranked sixth in the state, advanced with a pin late in the second period against Omaha Skutt sophomore Van Schmidt, who was a runner-up at 106 last season.

Then Ybarra, who upset top-ranked Jeff Heinz of Skutt in Thursday's semifinals, reached his first final with a 4-1 win over West Point-Beemer's Riley Berg, a state runner-up the past two years.

"I know Mario really wants a rematch with Ritzen, and Devontae's ready to go battle with anyone on the mat. We love that attitude," Miller said. "I'm really proud of how (Mario's) competed in this tournament. He's made the finals the hard way, had to beat a bunch of tough guys. There's nobody who can deny he deserves to be there."

Ybarra will face Chadron's Joe Ritzen in Saturday's final. Ritzen defeated Ybarra in the last Saturday's district final — that's their only meeting this season.

Ybarra, a sophomore who placed fifth at state last year, said Thursday's momentum carried over into Friday.

"That match against Heinz was a big confidence booster. I came in here ready to go," Ybarra said. "This is one of the greatest feelings I've had this season. All that hard work pays off."

Gutierrez will face top ranked Andrew Nielsen of Plattsmouth in the 113 final.

"For him to win today, it's big for all of us," Ybarra said.

But Scottsbluff's excitement was tempered by tight losses at 132 and 138.

At 132, Scottsbluff's Robert Price, a state runner-up last year who came into state ranked No. 1 in his weight class, lost a 2-0 decision to Gretna's Dan Zeleny. Zeleny scored in the second period and rode out Price.

Ben Rodriguez won the 132-pound state title last year for Scottsbluff and was top-ranked at 138 this season. But in his semifinal, Skutt's Bailey Vanderpool got a three-point near-fall midway through the match. Rodriguez cut it to 3-2 after two periods, but Vanderpool went on to earn a 4-2 win.

"It just goes to show you, when two good guys go at it, every point matters," Miller said.

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