Photo, Jeremy Buss Photography
Oh, so close.
For the second straight season, the Boone Central wrestling program was just one match away from breaking a state champion drought that dates to 2001.
For the second straight season, however, the Cardinals fell a victory shy, as sophomore Gavin Dozler concluded a sterling sophomore season by finishing as the Class C runner-up at 113 pounds.
“Gavin wrestled lights-out and beat, one match at a time, tough competition to earn a spot in the state finals,” praised Boone Central Coach Josh Majerus.
In fact, Dozler (43-7) pitched a shutout through the first three rounds of 113 pound competition, decisioning Jacob Hilmer (Loomis/Bertrand) 3-0, Lance Olberding (Fort Calhoun) 5-0 and Zack Dickau (Hi-Line) 1-0 before running into #1 seed Konner Schluckebier (Milford) and losing a 7-1 decision in Saturday’s championship match.
Overall, the state championship tournament was a positive experience for a young group of Boone Central Cardinals. Only Dozler had previous state experience, joined in 2020 by juniors Richard Cleveland (170) and Taylor Weber (195), fellow sophomore Ashton Schafer (160), and freshmen Ted Hemmingsen (106) and Sam Grape (138).
Cleveland was the only other Cardinal wrestler to win his first-round match, pinning Ian Vrbka (North Bend Central) in 3:08. Boone Central’s four opening-round losers all bounced back to claim their first state tournament wins in consolation wrestling, however – Hemmingsen by pin, Schafer and Weber with decisions and Grape by forfeit.
The weekend left Majerus pleased with his team’s efforts and excited for the future of the Cardinal mat program.
“What an amazing weekend!” Majerus exclaimed. “First, to qualify six for the state tournament. Most of these guys barely had 10 wins last year! This year we have five guys with 30-plus wins!
“All six of these guys are underclassmen and will return next year. All six really wrestled and competed at state, all winning at least one match. Taylor and Richard both wrestled very solid against state medalists and had opportunities to win those matches. Ted revenged a loss to a tough, rated Kearney Catholic kid who beat us in the High Plains Invite. Ashton wrestled up a weight class and wrestled hard in a loaded bracket. Sam also wrestled tough in a loaded bracket.”
With the close of 2019-20, Majerus looks ahead to the future with optimism and excitement – for his wrestlers and all Boone Central athletes.
“This season had a lot of highs for our program and a lot of records being broken,” he commented. “The boys had a fun, hard season and are excited to get back to the drawing board.”
Photo, Michael Anderson, Daily News
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