A trio of Patriots led a Nebraska contingent that brought back hardware from international competition earlier this month.
Millard South wrestlers Tyler Antoniak, Antrell Taylor and Joel Adams all were medalists at the U15 World School Combat Games in Budapest, Hungary.
All three are expected to be a part of the lineup for the defending Class A champion Patriots in the winter.
Antoniak returned home with gold after winning the 68-kg Greco-Roman bracket. The sophomore-to-be finished ahead of a wrestler from Hungary and another from Ukraine in his first taste of the world stage.
“I really never thought I was going to win it,” Antoniak said. “You don’t know what to expect. I just went out there and wrestled like it was any other tournament and the wrestling took care of itself.”
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In February, Antoniak reached the state finals before falling to nationally ranked Maxx Mayfield of Lincoln East for the 138-pound title.
Since then he’s given the Greco-Roman side a little more attention, winning nationals in April to clinch a spot on the world team.
“Freestyle has always been more my thing, but when I made the Greco world team, I just found a passion for it,” Antoniak said. “I’m not a flashy wrestler, and Greco is all about that good positioning. It’s how I wrestle.”
He was one of five from the United States to win Greco golds.
Taylor also reached the finals before falling in the 62-kg freestyle championship. Getting tested by international competition can only help, he said.
“It was exciting,” Taylor said. “It was good experience. It gives me a lot more confidence going into matches in the future.”
Adams and fellow Nebraskan Kael Lauridsen — both incoming freshmen — earned bronze medals for Team USA.
A Greco-Roman bronze at 48 kg was the cherry on top for Adams, who said it definitely raises the bar for him moving forward.
“When I had that feeling of placing amongst the very best, it made me feel like all the hard work I had done for the past 10 years was worth it,” he said. “I’ve placed on the world level now.”
And he did so alongside a couple of future teammates in Antoniak and Taylor.
“It felt good to kind of share that spirit and share that time,” Adams said. “I can kind of use them as role models, especially on the wrestling mat.”
It was hardly the first bit of international competition for Lauridsen, though. In fact, he’s expected to be in Greece for training and in a tournament in Bulgaria over the next couple of weeks.
“I wasn’t celebrating, but I was happy,” he said of his third-place finish at 44 kg on the freestyle side. “I don’t think I wrestled my best, but I wrestled well.”