KEARNEY, Neb. — With an opportunity to clinch the Class B title in the state dual championships, Plattsmouth coach Curtis Gocke found himself in a favorable position.
Leading 31-23 and needing a pin to end three-time defending champion Omaha Skutt’s reign, Gocke had Zachary Prall ready to roll. The Plattsmouth senior, who was told he might bump up to wrestle at 152 pounds, was instead inserted at his normal weight (145) where he won via fall over Hazen Wilson in 1:19. The win spurred the Blue Devils to a 37-33 victory Saturday at UNK’s Health and Sports Center.
“Zach’s one of those kids who does a lot of things right — on and off the mat,” Gocke said. “I would’ve had faith sending any of my seniors out there, but he definitely would’ve been one of my top picks.”
Prall said he knew he needed a pin to clinch the state title and figured his best chance was to get it early.
“Knowing you have to get a pin to make sure your team wins is a little daunting, especially in that first period,” Prall said. “I knew that a quick pin would be easier to get than if the match lasted into the third period because you get tired.
“Needing a pin probably pumped me up a little bit more, and I probably wrestled a little faster and was more aggressive right away. I felt like it helped more than it hurt.”
Gocke said he wasn’t sure how the matchups would shake out in a dual against the second-seeded SkyHawks but opted to take any points he thought he could get rather than gamble. Gocke said Zach Brant’s win by pin in 4:39 at 220 over Skutt’s Ben Altman was perhaps a major turning point after it gave fourth-seeded Plattsmouth an 18-3 lead.
“We tried to get the lead and put some pressure on Skutt,” Gocke said. “Our kids came up big and won some matches early and getting the pin at 220 was huge. That was a big-time swing match.
“(Altman) had beat us earlier in the year, so to come back and get that one could’ve been the difference.”
Prall said winning the state duals title took some of the sting out of what transpired in the individual state tournament last weekend. Not only did Plattsmouth finish second to Omaha Skutt by 1.5 points in the final team standings, but the Blue Devils senior had to settle for a third-place individual finish.
“I had worked 15 years to be a state champion and losing last week crushed me,” Prall said. “Coming in to this week, the whole time we were sort of thinking about redemption. We lost by a point and a half to the best team in the state, but this week, we knew we could come out on top and end the season on a high note.”
Plattsmouth finished the year 15-1 in dual matches.
Goecke said his team’s run to the duals title actually started with a strong performance on the final day of the individual state meet when the Blue Devils went 12-1 and rallied to put heat on Omaha Skutt.
“This is a huge honor for these seniors,” Gocke said. “All of these kids really put the time in, and I’m super excited for them. I’m super excited for our town.
“Skutt has had a (heck) of a run and for us to come in here after not quite getting what we wanted last week and win is something. We struggled through the week, but we got through it and our great senior leadership really paid off.”
Plattsmouth 37, Omaha Skutt 33 — 170: Andrew Null, Plattsmouth, won by forfeit. 182: Gage Orton, Plattsmouth, pinned Danny Thompson, OSC, 2:33. 195: Brendon Wheeler, OSC, dec. Trevor Nielsen, Plattsmouth, 4-2 (OT). 220: Zach Brant, Plattsmouth pinned Ben Altman, OSC, 4:39. 285: Trent Hixson, OSC, dec. Jason Nanke, Plattsmouth, 5-1. 106: Chase Larsen, Plattsmouth, major dec. Tom Bossert, OSC, 18-10. 113: Andrew Nielsen, Plattsmouth, Tony Sloboth, OSC, :39. 120: Korbin Meink, OSC, pinned Ronald Taylor, Plattsmouth, 2:43. 126: Justin Williamson, Plattsmouth, dec. Stone Mendez, OSC, 11-5. 132: Jeff Heinz, OSC, tech. fall Eithan Ludwig, Plattsmouth, 15-0. 138: Bailey Vanderpool, OSC, pinned Brody Bashus, Plattsmouth, 2:47.
145: Zach Prall, Plattsmouth, pinned Hazen Wilson, OSC, 1:19. 152: Billy Higgins, OSC, major dec. Kole Gray, Plattsmouth, 11-3. 160: Alex VanDyke, OSC, won by forfeit.