Cody Carlson is missing his hype man.

But the Fremont senior is hardly wrestling without motivation.

Carlson pulled a quarterfinal upset Thursday, punching his ticket for Friday’s semifinals with a third-round pin of top-ranked Conor Knopick of Millard South.

And almost immediately his thoughts turned, as they usually do, to his late father. Scott Carlson died in January after a lengthy battle with heart complications.

He was the guy who groomed Cody in the sport as a youth. The two had talked about winning a state title since Cody was a kid.

Scott was known to sneak down to a mat-side view on occasion. He pumped Cody up before matches. He was Cody’s biggest fan.

“I’m doing this all for him,” Cody said. “A state championship would all be for him.”

Cody, who broke the school’s rushing record in football in the fall, was back on the mat the weekend after his father died. It’s what Scott would have wanted, Fremont coach Ben Wilcox said.

“His dad wouldn’t have wanted what happened to him to derail Cody from his goals,” Wilcox said. “His dad raised him right, to be a tough kid. He’s been through some tough times. But he’s a very mentally tough kid.”

That much was evident in his second match Thursday.

Knopick led 1-0 in the third period before Carlson put him to his back.

“Got into a little situation and I felt like I could throw him with it,” Carlson said. “I was watching his shoulder blades the whole time.”

Said Wilcox: “Cody kind of hipped into him, pancaked him to his back, and that was it.”

Carlson, ranked fourth, moved into a semifinal against No. 5 Ladamien Sturdivant of Omaha Bryan. Second-ranked Cody Niemiec of Papillion-La Vista and Millard West’s Cam Russell, No. 3 at 126, are in the other semifinal.

Niemiec handed Carlson both of his losses in a 41-2 season, one in early January and the other in last weekend’s district finals.

Carlson reached the state championship match at 132 a year ago. He’s one win from getting back to the biggest stage again.

“I feel like this is the year,” Carlson said.

He’s looking to become the program’s first state champion since 2000. The Tigers have had just two state winners in the past 25 years.

“It’s exciting,” Wilcox said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him. We’re not done yet.”

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