Braiden Ruffin earned a reversal and a takedown in the third period to reach the state championship at 170 pounds on Friday at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha.
The North Platte grappler (45-3) defeated Justin Shaw (39-9), of Lincoln Southwest, 6-4 in the semifinals after trailing 3-1 heading into the third period.
"Being here in my second year and never being in a state championship besides baseball [with the First Nationals juniors], it feels good to be back in something that matters again," Ruffin said. "There's a lot of joy in my body right now."
Early in the third period, Ruffin found himself in a 3-1 hole and chose to go on the bottom to begin the period. From there, he earned the reversal to get the match even at 3-3.
"He threw his legs in on me. I just had to get up, get back to my base and shake him off," Ruffin said. "He was really strong with his legs and once I got him on my side, I had to keep wrestling and keep my head high. High ground wins."
Shaw re-took the lead with an escape at 4-3, but was called for stalling moments later, setting up Ruffin's final takedown with less than 15 seconds remaining in the match.
"I was definitely in the better shape in that match. I knew that he was starting to fall apart at the end," Ruffin said. "He just kind of fell on his face and I gave him two hard bounces, shucked him by and got two [points]."
The sophomore now faces Isaac O'Dell, of Lincoln East, in the championship tonight.
Cameron Riggs (46-0, of St. Pat's, will get his shot at a second state title. He is one of three Class D area wrestlers to reach the championship match at their respective weight classes.
The Irish grappler pinned Chandler Stone (38-12), of Sutton, in 2 minutes, 54 seconds in the semifinals at 132 pounds in Class D on Saturday to advance at the State Wrestling Tournament in Omaha.
"I [used a] fireman straight to his back and swung my arm around his chest," Riggs said. "That's a pretty go-to move when I'm on my feet. I saw the opportunity and I hit it. Usually, once I get [the move] to the mat, it's pretty hard to get out of."
In 2015 as a freshman, Riggs went 44-0 on his way to a state title at 113 pounds in Class D. He'll try for a second title tonight against Connor Donscheski (50-5), of Palmer.
"Once I figured out I was going to the finals for the second year, I was pretty excited. It's a feeling that no one else knows besides a wrestler," Riggs said.
Riggs, though, admitted to being more excited watching his brother, St. Pat's 126-pounder Brett Riggs, who won his third-round consolation match moments before the elder brother took the mat.
"It's amazing because I have my brother right beside me," he said. "And I have my older brother [Drew, a state medalist during high school] and my dad [Dan] pushes me to be like this. It helps me out a lot."
Robert Muench (39-3), of Sutherland, secured a takedown in overtime of his semifinal match at 220 pounds on Friday against Jacob Sahulka (39-2), of Weeping Water, for a 7-5 victory to advance.
"It feels pretty good. It really does," he said. "I'm kind of too tired to celebrate. I should probably work on that. My coaches were a little more [excited] than I was, I guess."
Muench tied the match at 5-5 in the third period and forced overtime, before getting the takedown.
"He was a defensive player. I knew he wasn't going to shoot," Muench said. "He was waiting for me to screw up. Four shots I took trying to finish him and he's a good scrambler."
Muench will face Tyler Gideon (38-1), of Burwell, in the championship match tonight.
Gideon Monette (39-1), of Mullen, is the fourth area wrestler after he won a 3-2 decision over Tory Huffman (35-5), of Burwell, to reach the title match at 182 pounds.
"Exhaustion. Satisfaction," Monette said. "I'm just thinking about all the extra time I spent in the [wrestling] room. No one knows what I did when no one was watching. That's what's so fulfilling. No one knows what I put in, but they see the goal."
Monette faces Austin Lampkin (41-4), of Scribner-Snyder, tonight in the championship match.