Six Bison wrestlers headed to state meet
SCOTTSBLUFF -- The McCook High School wrestling team brought home the Nebraska Class B-4 district wrestling tournament runner-up plaque on Saturday from Scottsbluff.
The Bison will send six wrestlers to the state tournament Friday and Saturday at the Qwest Center in Omaha -- Jesus Gauna, 103 pounds; Nate Morgan 112, Skyler Kalinski, 125; Drew Peterson, 130; Hank Lichtenwaldt, 171; and Chris Schleeman, 215.
"The team overall did an exceptional job during the two day event," said McCook wrestling coach Nick Umscheid. "We had the lead as a team all the way up to the finals round. Gering was the eventual team champion but we gave it our best effort. We just didn't have enough qualifiers overall to keep up with them in the team race.
"But being district runner-up is a great accomplishment and having six wrestlers qualify for the state tournament is tremendous. Even though we may not have qualified as many wrestlers as we did last year, we believe that the ones who did qualify have a very good shot of placing on the medal stand. They are all wrestling at a very high level right now and have lots of momentum working in their favor.
"Some of the individual highlights for the day were Jesus Gauna at 103 pounds. Jesus placed third in the tournament on his way to punching his ticket to his first state tournament. He bounced back from an early defeat from the top ranked wrestler in the state at his weight.
"On Saturday he continued to improve and fight his way on to placing third overall. He had some close matches that could have gone either way but he showed alot of heart and guts by pulling out some of those victories. Nobody in his bracket expected Jesus to accomplish what he did, but he didn't let the records of the other wrestlers mentally psych himself out and he just went out and got the job done.
"Another top performer on the day was Nate Morgan at 112 pounds. Nate claimed his first district championship by defeating one of the best wrestlers in the state from Gering in overtime in the finals. Nate showed once again why he is a force to be reckoned with this year. He now has his sights set on Omaha and another chance to put himself on the medal stand.
"On Friday and Saturday his performance was key in picking up valuable team points that led to the team's district runner-up finish. Hopefully he can do the same next week.
"Skyler Kalinski at 125 pounds will also be wrestling in his first state wrestling tournament as he placed second in his bracket on Saturday. Skyler is a very mentally tough wrestler. Not much can rattle Skyler when it comes to wrestling. He has a very workman-like attitude and gives you everything he has in both the practice room and on the wrestling mat.
"It was gratifying to see him accomplish what he did over the weekend. Nobody deserves a chance to compete in the state tournament more than Skyler. He is only a freshman, but he has been a silent leader on our team throughout the year. He leads by example by doing extra work after practice and in the off-season.
"Many of the other wrestlers on our team have become better wrestlers by following his lead. You don't see that very often from a freshman. Now he gets the opportunity to compete with the best wrestlers in the state next week and see how he measures up. We know that he will give it everything he has and we are excited to watch him perform.
"Also finishing in first place on the day was Drew Peterson at 130 pounds. Drew is really hitting his peak right now and there is no better time to have done that. He wrestled very well over the weekend on his way to claiming his first district championship. He is really hitting his stride and competing with alot of cofidence.
"Last week, he won his first title of the year at conference and he followed that up with another title at districts. He is a dangerous wrestler that no one in the state wants to be matched up against right now in his weight class. He has put himself in a very good position to do well next week in Omaha.
"It isn't going to be easy and he knows that he is going to have to wrestle his best in every match in order to accomplish his goals that he has set for himself.
"Senior Hank Lichtenwaldt at 171 pounds will also be competing in his first ever state tournament. Hank battled through a shoulder injury all weekend but was still able to place second overall in his bracket. This is quite an accomplishment considering the pain he was in during the two days. In the finals he just made one mistake that put him in a bad situation that probably cost him the title.
"But Hank is the type of competitor that will learn from that mistake and correct it. Hank has only been wrestling for three years and has come a long way in that time. This is his first year wrestling varsity and he has not let that bother him one bit. He has the mental toughness and desire to win that not many people posess. We know that he will give it everything that he has in every match and as long as he does that he has a chance of doing great things next week.
"The final placer and state qualifier for the McCook wresling team came from Chris Schleeman at 215 pounds. On Saturday, Chris claimed his first district title in a heroic performance. Chris has also been battling an injury lately but he willed his way to the top of the medal stand.
"This was Chris' first district title after finishing second the last two years. Chris is the ultimate competitor and deserves all the awards that he has accomplished in his career. He has had some great battles with some of the best wrestlers in the state and his competive nature has enabled him to fight through and win many of those battles.
"On Saturday in the finals, he fought through his injury and was able to block out the pain on his way to pinning his opponent in the finals. Not many people could have accomplished what Chris did last weekend. He now has put himself in a good situation to accomplish his own personal goals next week.
"This was the first time in a long time that the Bison wrestling team was able to finish in the top two at the district tournament. It took an entire team effort by all the wrestlers, not just the ones who qualified for state. To be able to battle it out with 11 other teams over two days in a hostile environment is quite the accomplishment.
"There were many cheers and lots of tears on Saturday as many of our wrestlers came just one win from making it to the state tournament. This has been a very exciting year so far seeing so many of these young men improve and have success at many of the tournaments that we competed in.
"Many of our wrestlers are underclassmen and we hope that they continue to improve and make themselves better wrestlers so that we can continue the success that we have had up to this point.
"Now the ultimate challenge awaits down at the state tournament in Omaha.
"Our six state qualifiers will have to have a great week of practice and give it everything that they have over those three days.
"We will be facing the best of the best and we know that our wrestlers will be ready for whoever their opponent will be."
B-4 Wrestling Districts in Scottsbluff
second out of 12 teams
103 Jesus Gauna 4-1 3rd place state qualifier
112 Nate Morgan 3-0 1st place state qualifier
119 Jake Fahrenbruch 1-2
125 Skyler Kalinski 2-1 2nd place state qualifier
130 Drew Peterson 3-0 1st place state qualifier
135 Rusty Sullivent 1-2
140 Keldon Osterman 2-2
152 Jeff Phelps 0-2
160 Deon Allen 2-2
171 Hank Lichtenwaldt 3-1 2nd place state qualifier
189 Eric Chalupa 2-2
215 Chris Schleeman 3-0 1st place state qualifier
Team scoring-state qualifiers
Gering 166.5-9, McCook 145-6, Gothenburg 133.5-9, Scottsbluff 99-4, Lexington 98.5-4, Cozad 91.5-4, Holdrege 83.5-4, Sidney 82-3, Alliance 75-3, Ogallala 73-4, Chadron 71.5-3, Broken Bow 70-3.
103: 1, Zachery Nelson, Alliance, def. Zane Smith, Broken Bow, 17-0. 3, Jesus Gauna, McCook, def. Mitchell Spiegel, Gothenburg, 6-5.
112: 1, Nate Morgan, McCook, def. Jordan Lovesee, Gering, 7-5 OT. 3, Andrew Leider, Alliance, pinned Tanner Schwanz, Gothenburg, 2:39.
119: 1, Ryan Roach, Sidney, def. Sergio Lara, Holdrege, 4-0. 3, Tyler Nation, Scottsbluff, won by default over Justin Broberg, Chadron.
125: 1, Mukoma Issa, Lexington, def. Skyler Kalinski, McCook, 5-3. 3, Zachery Childs, Gering, def. Kyle Carlson, Cozad, 3-1.
130: 1, Andrew Peterson, McCook, def. Matthew Denson, Broken Bow, 12-5. 3, Christopher Hyde, Gothenburg, def. Dylan Wolf, Gering, 6-5.
135: 1, Hunter Roseberry, Sidney, def. Justin Richter, Scottsbluff, 19-9. 3, Cody Larson, Gothenburg, def. Vincent Lopez, Gering, 10-0.
140: 1, Phillip Martinez, Gering, def. Bill Reynoso, Lexington, 4-1. 3, Spencer Isaacson, Holdrege, def. Kyle Staley, Gothenburg, 9-8.
145: 1, Tucker Voycheske, Ogallala, pinned Kohlton Price, Sidney, 3:47. 3, Rolando Gonzalez, Lexington, def. Dallan Johnston, Holdrege, 5-1,
152: 1, Cory Devine, Cozad, def. Jacob Woodside, Holdrege, 9-0. 3, Sean Gutierrez, Gering, def. Tyson Lanka, Ogallala, 0-2.
160: 1, Wil Brown, Chadron, won by default over Aaron Homan, Lexington. 3, Taylor Allard, Gothenburg, pinned Garrett Deeds, Scottsbluff, 2:23.
171: 1, Tyler Patrick, Scottsbluff, def. William Lichtenwaldt, McCook, 6-4. 3, Louis Ybarra, Gering, pinned Cody Svoboda, Ogallala, 2:05.
189: 1, Tanner Sturgeon, Cozad, def. Conor Schnell, Alliance, 5-0. 3, Joey Munoz, Gering, def. Shawn Walker, Gothenburg, 5-3 OT.
215: 1, Christopher Schleeman, McCook, pinned Aaron Demoret, Gothenburg, 5:43. 3, Zach Sandstrom, Chadron, def. Andrew Lemmer, Cozad, 15-5.
285: 1, Steven Brown, Gering, pinned Noel Scott, Broken Bow, 3:03. 3, Tomas France, Gothenburg, pinned Brian Springer, Ogallala, 1:59.