Dylan Petersen is right where he wants to be.
The senior 145-pounder for North Platte successfully controlled both of his matches on Thursday at the Class A State Tournament at the Century Link Center in Omaha and will wrestle in the semifinals tonight.
“It just takes all the pressure off of it,” said the fifth-ranked wrestler at 145. “It’s nice to be able to relax the next day and sit around [today] and watch the wrestling, eat something, get a little bit more time to get your energy back and everything else.”
To reach the semifinals, Petersen (45-3) had to beat Parker James (30-19), of Kearney, a wrestler he’d seen twice this season.
“I knew he was going to be a tough guy to wrestle. Three times wrestling the kid, it gets tough,” he said. “Every time you wrestle a kid, he’s going to learn a little bit more about you.”
Petersen allowed James to take several shots early, but took firm control of the match in the second period, coming away with an 8-3 victory.
“You kind of have to change things up a bit,” Petersen said. “Just like the other matches, he never was coming out on me aggressive. This match he came out trying to run something and I made him slip up a couple of times and it was really effective.”
His opponent tonight, another familiar one: DaShawn Dixon (38-1), of Hastings. Dixon has defeated Petersen twice this season, a 4 minute, 43 second pin in the championship match at the Kearney Invite on Dec. 5 and a 3 minute, 57 second pin in the championship match of the GNAC Tournament on Feb. 6.
It’s Petersen’s second trip to Friday night – semifinals night. He placed fifth in 2015 at 138 pounds and 4th in 2014 at 132 pounds.
“It’s a great feeling, first of all. I think semifinals night is better than finals night,” Petersen said. “You get in there, and there’s a lot more people, a lot more excitement in the air. That’s where the rubber meets the road in the semifinal matches.”
Earlier in the day, Petersen topped Cade Kammerer (20-27), of Lincoln East, 9-3 in the first round.
Another Bulldog, sophomore Braiden Ruffin, is also through to the semifinals tonight. Down late in the third period 6-5, things looked bleak as time was slipping away. However his opponent, Jesse Rotundo (39-13), of Bellevue East, was called for stalling, tying the match at 6.
“I just had to keep the pressure on him. Stay smart, do my circling and if it’s there, take it,” Ruffin said. “If he tries to dive in, score, end the match.”
In overtime, Ruffin made the move, earning the takedown and his spot in the semifinals.
“I was just happy to get there, to be able to have a chance to wrestle for semis [today],” Ruffin said. “I ain’t done yet. Still got work to do. It was a mild celebration, but there’s more to come.”
Ruffin’s opponent tonight is Justin Shaw (39-8), of Lincoln Southwest.