As always, the district wrestling tournament produced good news and excitement, along with struggles and disappointment.
All in all, however, the positives outweighed the negatives for the Boone Central/Newman Grove Cardinals in the B-1 District at York. BC/NG broke a long individual district champion drought and had its top four seeds all qualify for the 2018 Nebraska State Wrestling Championships.
“We had four of our guys seeded in the top four – they all came through and earned a trip to Omaha,” Cardinal Coach Dale Bonge acknowledged. “Three of the four made it to the finals. The rest of the guys competed hard, but it just was not to be for them.
“We are excited for the qualifiers and look forward to competing in the state tournament.”
Junior Jon Merten claimed the 220-pound B-1 championship with three victories, including a first-round pin in the title match. Senior Trey Schafer placed second, losing only to the defending Class B state champion in the 170-pound final. Sophomore Will Grape qualified for state at 106-pounds, placing second after a medical forfeit, while senior Garrett Cornwell earned a return trip to state by placing third in the 160-pound class.
“Jon became out first district champion after a 10-year dry spell, coming from the third seed,” Bonge commented. “Jon was leading his first match 10-3 when his opponent was injured and could not continue. After a scoreless first period in the semifinals, Jon earned a second-period escape and a late takedown, rode out his man in the third, and advanced to the final with a guaranteed trip to state.
“Jon had been extremely nervous in his first two matches, and it showed a bit in how he wrestled. In the finals, with a trip to state already in hand and his anxiety level down, Jon opened up and wrestled his best match of the tournament, scoring a first-period pin.”
Schafer will return to state competition for the second straight season after dominating his way to Saturday’s district final. Cornwell will joined Schafer as a returning state qualifier this week following his third-place finish at York. The B-1 district proved to be a mix of elation and frustration for Grape. Although the Card soph qualified for a trip to Omaha, he will be unable to get a taste of his first state action due to injury.
Boone Central/Newman Grove placed 7th in the tough 12-team B-1 field with 81 points. Omaha Skutt, Class B state champion nine of the past 10 years, was the tournament team champion with 209 points.
Merten, Schafer and Cornwell will begin their quests for state tournament medals Thursday, with Class B 1st round matches at the Omaha CenturyLink Center (9:30 a.m.).
Complete results in Print & Online editions of Albion News