Just ahead of his dad, tied with his uncle.
That’s Tyler Gideon’s résumé after winning the Class D 220-pound championship Saturday. He defeated Robert Muench of Sutherland 6-2, earning Burwell’s second title of the day and, along with a teammate, quenched a trophy drought that had lasted a generation.
Burwell’s last individual champion was Luke Gideon, Burwell’s coach and Tyler’s uncle. The family also knows that oh-so-close disappointment.
Tyler’s father, Jake, was a state runner-up in 1992. Luke’s son, Evan, was a runner-up two years ago.
Tyler lives in the house Jake and Luke grew up in. Luke’s championship bracket — the same kind Tyler was presented with Saturday — remains at the home.
“I’ve looked at it a lot,” Tyler said. “Hopefully my grandchildren can do the same.”
Luke Gideon has been Burwell’s wrestling coach for 18 years. He landed a teaching job at his hometown school shortly after graduating from college. Tyler, a junior, has been an unofficial member of the team for some time.
“I’ve been a water boy since third grade,” he said. “I followed older wrestlers that have won this championship. Now I’m there.”
On Saturday, Luke Gideon had flashbacks to his moment in the sun.
“I have this close experience with the kid, whether he’s my son or not,” Luke said. “It maybe means a little more because Tyler’s my nephew, but it’s very special regardless. I know the commitment it takes, the sacrifice. They don’t understand the big picture until they get to this point.”
In 1992 the championships were held at the Devaney Center, but more than a venue has changed since then.
“Kids are better today. Kids specialize,” Luke Gideon said.
Not so at Burwell. Tyler and teammate Lane Helgoth — who moments before Gideon’s win won the 195-pound championship — were members of Burwell’s state runner-up football team. Helgoth, a senior who will play football at Chadron State, was an all-state defensive tackle; the 6-foot-5 Gideon earned the same honor at defensive end.
“They’re gamers. They always have their ears pinned back,” Luke Gideon said.
Tyler Gideon finished 39-1, with his only loss to Class C 220-pound champion Jason Hahlbeck of O’Neill. Preparing for his match, Gideon watched Helgoth pin Dane Bogard of Amherst to end Burwell’s championships drought about 10 minutes before Gideon could.
“It motivated me,” Tyler said. “You don’t want to be the odd man out.”
And he won’t be the odd man out at family dinners when the discussion turns to gold medals.
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