GINW's Cooper earns another trip to semifinals; Adams Central sends 3 into semis

Mark Zepeda of Grand Island Northwest, top, won by a 7-3 decision over Bennington's Jason Brunk during their Class B 285-pound opening-round match Thursday during the state wrestling championships at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha.

Austin Cooper had some motivation during his 160-pound quarterfinal match against Holdrege’s Prestin Melroy.

Melroy had not only beaten Cooper 4-1 in the Central City Invite finals Jan. 9, but he also tore Cooper’s labrum in that same match.

The No. 5-rated Cooper wasted little time in the match as he locked the No. 3-rated Melroy into a cradle and got the pin at 1:17 to earn his second trip into the semfinals during Thursday’s action at the CenturyLink Center Omaha.

“I really wanted that match when I saw he was going to be my opponent,” Cooper said. “After what he did to me at Central City, I really wanted to wrestle him again. I wanted to come out, wrestle a good match and I did that.”

Four-time champion and top-ranked Omaha Skutt leads the team race with 82 points. Plattsmouth is second with 70.5.

Northwest coach Brian Sybrandts said he was happy to see Cooper earn another trip to the semifinals.

“He got some redemption there and that was good to see,” Sybrandts said. “That was eating at him and now he’s got a chance to get into the state finals and he’s also getting another medal.

“That’s means a lot to me as a coach. He’s got heart and has put a lot of time on the mat. He deserves it.”

Melroy almost had a chance to get the first takedown on Cooper early on. However, Cooper defended it and both came up right away.

Then Cooper shot in on a double-leg and Melroy stuck his leg out. That gave Cooper an opportunity to put the cradle in, which he did and got the pin.

“I just trusted myself right there and held on for dear life and I was able to get the pin,” Cooper said.

Cooper is looking for more redemption as he battles Omaha Skutt’s Alex VanDyke in the semifinals Friday night.

Cooper was in the same spot last year and fell to Syracuse’s Ty Snyder 11-6 in the 152-pound semifinals. Cooper had Snyder on his back at the start of the match but couldn’t get the pin. Snyder rallied to defeat Cooper and ended winning the state title the next day.

“There’s a lot more for me,” Cooper said. “I thought I should have been in the finals last year but it didn’t work out that way. I have some unfinished business here.”

Viking teammate Mark Zepeda earned a trip to the quarterfinals but couldn’t quite win his match as he was stuck by Plattsmouth’s Jason Nanke in 2:17 at 285.

“He got a win in the first round which I was happy to see, but Nanke caught us with our head down and he took advantage of it,” Sybrandts said.

Grayson Fries (106) and Austin Dammann (220) were pinned in their first-round matches. The Vikings are sitting in five-way tie for 15th with 13 points.

Zepeda, Fries and Dammann will all wrestle in the consolation matches Friday morning and are all still in contention to get a medal.

“I think all those guys have a chance to come back and win some matches,” Sybrandts said. “It’s just going to depend on if they are mentally tough or not.”

Adams Central advanced three wrestlers to the semifinals after Thursday’s action. That has the Patriots sitting in sixth place with 36.5 points.

Nolan Barry (No. 5 at 113), Marc Zeckser (No. 3 at 145) and Kendall Oberheide (No. 2 at 220) won a pair of matches Thursday.

Barry pinned Bennington’s Broc Hall in 3:08, while Zeckser pinned Waverly’s Austin Neemann in 1:15 and Oberheide snuck past Nebraska City’s Jake Kreifel 2-1.

“We knew going in we would have some tough matches, but they came through and got the job done for us,” Adams Central coach Dan Lonowski said. “Nolan wrestled extremely well and got himself a medal for us. Kendall had a tough match but did what he had to do to win and Marc took care of business. Those three are very deserving.”

Barry wrestles top-ranked Andrew Nielsen of Plattsmouth at 113, while Zeckser battles No. 4 Cody Lambert of Ashland-Greenwood at 145. Oberheide has No. 3 Cole Krecklow of Wahoo-Cedar Bluffs at 220.

The Patriots had two other quarterfinalists in Jacob Kubicka (106) and Tyler Zeigler (182) but both fell. Kubicka was pinned by Seward’s Miguel Dubs in 4:42 and Zeigler fell to Gretna’s Grant Bruner 14-7.

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