Lincoln East’s three-day dress rehearsal started on a stage Thursday night and ended Saturday with an effort worthy of a standing ovation.
The Class A No. 2 Spartans had finalists in nine of 14 weight classes and crowned seven champions to run away with the team title of the 51st annual Norm Manstedt Invitational at Central Community College in Columbus.
It capped a demanding 72-hour stretch for the Spartans, who followed up a 44-19 dual victory over fifth-ranked Kearney on Thursday (wrestled in the East auditorium) with two quality days against tough competition.
“It was a grind,” Lincoln East coach Jeff Rutledge said. “Three days of weighing in, wrestling against tough competition. The kids wrestled really well. They really stepped up to the challenge.”
It’s a challenge much like the one teams face in February at the state tournament, something that wasn’t lost on Rutledge.
“It was a good measuring stick to see where we were at lining up against some really tough teams in other classes,” Rutledge said. “I feel a lot of confidence rolling through our guys right now, and it’s an awesome time to have it.”
It wasn’t hard to see why.
Brandon Baustert (113 pounds), Cole Toline (120), Nic Swift (132), Breckin Sperling (145), Maxx Mayfield (160), Grant Lyman (170) and Ge’Auvieon Crayton (285) won individual championships for the Spartans.
Four of those victories came in matchups between ranked foes in the finals. Sperling, ranked No. 2 in Class A, earned a first-period pin over Class C’s top-ranked Morgan McGinley of Valentine. Mayfield followed with a fall of his own against Valentine’s Chase Olson in a meeting of the No. 1 wrestlers in Class A and Class C, respectively.
“I told a couple of coaches today that this tournament almost seemed like it was an all-class tournament,” Rutledge said.
Fourth-ranked Columbus had champions in Rylee Iburg at 152 pounds and top-ranked Anthony DeAnda at 182. The Discoverers won only two of six finals matches, though, with three of those losses coming from ranked wrestlers.
Included in that was a 14-5 major decision by Omaha Creighton Prep’s Tony Pray over top-ranked Kasten Grape of Columbus in the 195-pound final. Pray, ranked second, remained unbeaten and handed Grape his first loss of the season. The two met for the Class A crown at 220 a year ago, a match Grape won 8-4.
Class C No. 1 Valentine had a pair of champions in Chris Williams (126) and Gage Krolikowski (138), the Badgers’ returning state champions. Tristen Obermiller of Adams Central won the 106-pound title, while Class C No. 1 Peyton Cone gave Fremont Bergan an individual gold with his win at 220.
Team scoring: Lincoln East 287.5, Columbus 249, Valentine 171.5, Adams Central 135.5, David City 117, Fremont Bergan 106.5, Wahoo 103, Omaha Creighton Prep 81, Centennial 74, Schuyler 65, Kearney Catholic 63, Syracuse 61, Boone Central/Newman Grove 53, Oakland-Craig, 52, Palmer 41, Columbus Scotus 38, Tekamah-Herman 26, High Plains 21, Crete 8, South Central NE Unified District 7.
106: Tristen Obermiller, Adams Central dec. Gabe Turman, Lincoln East 14-8. 113: Brandon Baustert, Lincoln East, major dec. Braiden Kort, Adams Central, 11-1. 120: Cole Toline, Lincoln East, dec. Malachi Bordovsky, Wahoo, 6-5. 126: Chris Williams, Valentine, dec. Andon Stenger, Columbus, 9-6. 132: Nic Swift, Lincoln East, dec. Tanner Kobza, Columbus, 6-5. 138: Gage Krolikowski, Valentine, pinned Christopher Feldner, Kearney Catholic, 2:13. 145: Breckin Sperling, Lincoln East, pinned Morgan McGinley, Valentine, 1:18. 152: Rylee Iburg, Columbus, dec. Chase Kammerer, Lincoln East, 3-0. 160: Maxx Mayfield, Lincoln East, pinned Chase Olson, Valentine, 5:28. 170: Grant Lyman, Lincoln East, dec. Blayze Standley, Columbus, 5-3. 182: Anthony DeAnda, Columbus, pinned Ethan Villwok, Fremont Bergan, 3:52. 195: Tony Pray, Omaha Creighton Prep, major dec. Kasten Grape, Columbus, 14-5. 220: Peyton Cone, Fremont Bergan, dec. Jacob Deckert, Adams Central, 9-6. 285: Ge’Auvieon Crayton, Lincoln East, pinned Eli Simonson, Fremont Bergan, 3:49.