Plattsmouth and Scottsbluff, how did you sleep overnight?
Did you have pleasant dreams or lie awake, thinking of bringing home a Class B state wrestling title Saturday that might have seemed unattainable a week ago?
And you, Omaha Skutt? A fourth consecutive state title is possible, but there’s work to do in the final two consolation rounds for the SkyHawks to keep up for the 3 p.m. finals at the CenturyLink Center.
Plattsmouth and Scottsbluff each have three finalists, one more than the SkyHawks, with a head-to-head meeting to start the finals. At 132 pounds, the first weight class Saturday, Scottsbluff’s Ben Rodriguez faces Zach Prall of Plattsmouth.
“It’s definitely a team race and it’s something we haven’t had in a while (in Class B). It’s kind of fun,” Plattsmouth coach Curtis Gocke said.
The Blue Devils, who last were champions 25 years ago, took a 101-92 lead on Skutt, with Scottsbluff at 90.5.
Grand Island in Class A may have cost Millard South some sleep by making a late surge on the pre-tournament favorite.
Billy Thompson pinned returning champion Markell Vaughn of Omaha North at 170, after getting taken down twice in the first period, Edgar Silva held off Millard South’s Alex Cloyd at 195 and Blaine Morrow won at 285. Those wins helped the Islanders pull within six, 132.5-126.5, after Friday night’s semifinals and consolation third round before a crowd of 11,632.
Valentine led East Butler in Class C 94-78. Amherst clinched its sixth straight Class D title.
Saturday’s finals are stacked, starting with 132, so the ultimate matches at 126 will include the bid by Doyle Trout of Class C Centennial to become the newest four-time champion.
Go back to 1998 and the Devaney Center, when Skutt won for the first time, for the last time there were more than two teams in contention going into the final day in Class B.
Plattsmouth will have Prall, Andrew Null at 138 and Gage Orton at 170 in the finals. Scottsbluff will have Rodriguez, then a long break until Keegan Hessler at 120 and Robert Price at 126 to finish. In between, Skutt sends out freshman Van Schmidt at 106 and returning champion Korbin Meink, a sophomore, at 113.
Gocke said it’s unfortunate that Skutt isn’t wrestling at full strength — the school kept two district champions out of the tournament as a disciplinary action — “but you have to take advantage of it when it’s given to you.” The team, he said, since the start of practice felt it could contend this season.
“A state tournament mentality is not something that happens two weeks ago,” Gocke said. “We talked about it from day one.”
Skutt had fallen to third place before getting consolation wins from Brendon Wheeler at 182 and Caden Reimers at 220. The SkyHawks went 2-2 in the semifinals, dropping matches at 120 to Scottsbluff’s Hessler and at 152 to Brian Messersmith of Cozad.
“There was a lot of back-and-forth tonight,” SkyHawks coach Brad Hildebrandt said. “I thought Jeff Heinz wrestled tremendous against Hessler and Curt Randall (at 152), he’s young and he wrestled Messersmith pretty well.”
Scottsbluff has a longer title drought than Plattsmouth. It last won in 1989 when the school was in Class A.
Coach James Miller’s team lost a head-to-head match with Plattsmouth at 138, where Null beat Salem Harsh 4-2.
“I thought he legitimately had a chance to beat that kid, had a call go against him we thought was questionable and it cost us the match,” Miller said. “I was proud of how all our guys competed. We have a couple guys on the backside we want to push hard to get third and we have three in the finals.”
Millard South lost last year’s Class A title to Omaha North by a half-point and that near-miss has fueled the Patriots all season. In another close race, coach Doug Denson said, that’s all the Patriots should be thinking about.
“You get to this point of time, with adversity, and either you dig deep or you’re going to fold it up and let it go. We can’t be that team to let it go,” he said. “It can’t be us.”
Isaac DeLoa at 138 and Terry Jeub at 220, each with 48-0 records, and Mike Thiesen at 126 are the Patriots’ finalists. Millard South went 3-3 in its semifinals.
“We didn’t do anything spectacular tonight, just kind of held serve,” Denson said.
Grand Island’s fourth finalist is Chris Doty at 138. He’ll wrestle DeLoa.
New coach Joey Morrison praised the perseverance of Thompson (38-3), who was ranked first and Vaughn (28-2) second entering the postseason.
“It’s amazing how much he kept coming and coming,” Morrison said. “He’s very mentally tough.”
Valentine has four finalists — Jordan Kelber at 106, Noah Eklund at 126, Hudson Pearman at 138 and Jacob Hand at 145. Pearman needed a tiebreaker to defeat Tucker Bergquist of Southern Valley 3-2.
East Butler’s three finalists are Devon Spatz at 113, Drew Ratkovec at 138 — he’ll wrestle Pearman — and Evan Sisel at 182.
Amherst went 5-4 in the semifinals and the Broncos will have 10 medal winners, two fewer than last year’s record haul. In the finals are Kalen Klingelhoefer at 126, Brandt Florell at 132, Devin Dibbern at 152, Payton Schake at 220 and Tanner Hircock at 285.
The battle for second includes Friend and Oakland-Craig.
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