BAYARD — Fresh off a third-place finish at the Class D, District 4 Tournament last weekend in North Platte, the Bayard wrestling team is aiming to ride that momentum into this week’s Nebraska state tournament in Omaha.
The three-day tournament gets underway with first round and quarterfinal matches Thursday at the CenturyLink Center. Classes B and C will compete in the first session beginning at 8:30 a.m., while action in Classes D and A will follow at 3 p.m.
Bayard will be represented by five state qualifiers. Four of those are returning qualifiers and captured district titles in their respective weight classes last week.
“I think any time you have five qualifiers, and four are district champions, that’s pretty good,” Bayard head coach Randy McKibbin said. “Those four came through and we had a freshman do really well at districts to get qualified, so it was quite an amazing feat for us.”
Winning district titles for the Tigers were sophomore Alex Araujo at 113 pounds, sophomore Mitch McKibbin at 120, senior Alex Wamboldt at 195, and senior Zaine Gallegos at 285. Freshman Karsen Hunter rounds out Bayard’s state contingent after placing fourth at districts at 138.
Coach McKibbin said the Tigers’ four district champions have led the team all season.
“All four of those guys have been rated all year, so that’s kind of cool,” he said. “I think those four returning state qualifiers have the opportunity to get pretty deep in their bracket.”
Araujo, who is 40-6 this season, is Bayard’s lone returning state medalist. He earned a sixth-place finish last year as a freshman in Class C and has his sights set on a higher placing this week.
“He had a great tournament last year and I know he wants to do better than that this year,” McKibbin said. “All four of them won’t be satisfied if they don’t come home with some sort of medal.”
Mitch McKibbin enters state with a 39-5 record, Hunter is 13-6, Wamboldt owns a record of 36-5, and Gallegos is 39-1. While all of the Tigers have high expectations to do well, Coach McKibbin said nothing will come easy for his squad.
“I don’t think there’s a match down there that’s a gimme match,” he said. “All of those guys down there are district placers.”
Bayard will be joined in the Class D state field by a number of other local qualifiers. Hemingford is sending six, Morrill has four and Minatare is represented by one.
Competing for Hemingford are Cooper Weber at 106, Justin Davis at 120, Lee Jespersen at 160, Tarin Jespersen at 182, Kage Jespersen at 195, and Troy Isom at 220.
Morrill’s qualifiers are Holden Schleve at 113, Garrett Zwiebel at 160, Elvariste Gomez at 170, and William Howell at 182.
Minatare’s Josh Cinocco will be competing individually for the Indians.
The consolation and semifinal rounds will be held on Friday, while consolation and championship matches will wrap up the tournament on Saturday. The finals will be televised live on Nebraska Educational Television Saturday beginning at 2 p.m.
Local State Qualifiers
Alliance — 106, Evan Steggs; 126, Jorgen Johnson; 138, Lane Applegarth; 145, Rey Valdez; 152, Danny Vallejo; 160, Emmanuel Cabello; 170, Bryant Wilson; 285, Nathan Lauder.
Chadron — 126, Joe Ritzen; 195, Curtis McMann.
Gering — 138, Austin Garcia; 160, Carmelo Ozuna; 170, Cody Ybarra.
Scottsbluff — 106, George Hernandez; 113, Devontae Gutierrez; 120, Jerryd Hernandez; 126, Mario Ybarra; 132, Robert Price; 138, Ben Rodriguez; 152, Elijah Blanco; 182, Kobe Paez; 285, Genaro Gurrola.
Sidney — 106, Trey Arellano; 113, Kaden Vowers; 152, Derek Robb; 220, Cody Hofrock.
Bridgeport — 126, Steven Tafoya; 145, Joe Weibert; 152, Lawrence Schneider; 182, Jerrod Fedorchik; 285, Will Frerichs.
Kimball — 106, Garrett Pedersen.
Mitchell — 126, Darryn Walters; 138, Drew Gilliland; 170, Abe Hernandez.
Bayard — 113, Alex Araujo; 120, Mitch McKibbin; 138, Karsen Hunter; 195, Alex Wamboldt; 285, Zaine Gallegos.
Hemingford — 106, Cooper Weber; 120, Justin Davis; 160, Lee Jespersen; 182, Tarin Jespersen; 195, Kage Jespersen; 220, Troy Isom.
Minatare — 152, Josh Cinocco.
Morrill — 113, Holden Schleve; 160, Garrett Zwiebel; 170, Elvariste Gomez; 182, William Howell.