OAKLAND — On a day where two individual state records were broken, it was Logan View that positioned itself as the team to beat in the upcoming East Husker Conference tournament after a solid showing at Saturday’s Oakland-Craig Invitational.
The Raiders came way with four individual champions and had 10 top-four finishes to pull away from conference rival Oakland-Craig in the Knights’ home gym.
And with other conference foes like Howells-Dodge, West Point-Beemer, North Bend and Pender on hand, Logan View made a clear statement that the road to the East Husker crown will have to go through them when the meet takes place Saturday at West Point-Beemer High School.
“We had a really good day,” Raiders coach Dan Mowinkel said of his team’s effort. “We were missing one of our state placers who was out with an ankle injury, and it put the pressure on the kids to pick up those points he would have gotten for us — and they came through with flying colors.”
Sixth-ranked Martin Valencia of Logan View had one of the more exciting championship matchups, coming back from a 4-0 deficit to pin Winside’s Gabe Escalante midway through their 126-pound matchup.
Escalante had a takedown and two-point nearfall early in the match and Valencia had the choice going into the third period. He chose the neutral position to start the period and caught the Winside freshman in a headlock that led to a pin with 41 seconds left in the match.
“Martin has not felt well last few days and we debated on how to go that third period, and decided go neutral to try see if could hit something big. It went our way and he was able to get him on a big toss,” Mowinkel said. “Martin has a really nice headlock and does finish a lot of matches when he gets it, but you don’t usually get those against the good kids.”
Valencia’s win followed a technical fall by teammate Dru Mueller over Winnebago’s Antonio Robles at 113 pounds. The Raiders also had winners in Hunter McNulty at 132 and Brady Hull at 160. McNulty earned a late second-period pin over Cameron Williams of Conestoga, while Hull won a tight battle over Hartington Cedar Catholic’s Ethan Koch in a 3-1 decision.
Oakland-Craig was able to come away with runner-up honors in its own tournament, picking up three wins on the day with Trenton Arlt (106), Jarron Metzler (152) and third-ranked Justyn Hale (285).
Arlt had a solid outing in his championship match, posting a 7-1 decision over Dawson Hardesty and making a case for a spot in the state rankings with the win.
“Trenton wrestled one of his best tournaments of the year today,” Knights coach Matt Nelson said. “He moved really well and controlled all of his matches and used some things we’ve been working on in the wrestling room. He’s really hitting his stride before the end of the season.”
Hale ran the table at heavyweight for the Knights, finishing the day with a first-period pin of Winnebago heavyweight Prosper Gilpin, which was his second win over Gilpin this season.
“We saw him in a dual before and we’ll probably see him again at districts, so (Justyn) just needs to keep working hard,” Nelson said.
One of the surprises of the day came at 138 pounds, when Oakland-Craig’s Jefferson McNeill, ranked second in the state, lost a semifinal match with Art Escalante of Winside after an illegal move that led to an injury-related disqualification.
Nelson said that McNeill tried to elevate Escalante in the closing seconds of a match where McNeill was leading 2-1 and slammed him to the mat. Because Escalante was momentarily knocked out by the collision and was unable to continue, McNeill lost the match and had to come back to finish third.
“It was a tough match,” Nelson said. “He was able to battle back and did what he needed to do to get third. He just had to leave that match behind him and we needed him to come back and focus and he was able to do that.”
North Bend Central senior 170-pounder Zach Borer put his name in the state record books twice on Saturday. His first-period pin of Max Middendorf was the first of three pins on the day, elevating him past Bryce Wiedeman of Mitchell and Trevor Adams of Fillmore Central on the Class C all-time career pins chart with 143. Mathematically, he has a chance to move into second place all-time among all four classes if he pins his way through the rest of the season.
His first-period pin of Logan View’s Eric French was also his 37th career win, eclipsing the Class C mark of 36 set by four-time state champion Brett Allgood of Bennington. The win moved him to 184-5 for his career to date.
Other individual champions on the day included Norfolk Catholic’s Wyatt Smydra (138), Turner Korth of Hartington Cedar Catholic (145), Dylan Horejsi of Howells-Dodge (182), Hunter Thonen of Conestoga (195) and Joe Rodriguez of West Point-Beemer (220).
Mowinkel said Saturday’s performance has him feeling pretty good about his team’s chances of winning the East Husker Conference meet this weekend in West Point.
“I think we’re the favorite to win conference and, hopefully, we’ll go in with the right attitude and give a good performance,” he said. “I really like our depth. I don’t know how many champions we’ll have, but with our depth I feel we have a really good chance of winning it if we go out and perform the way we have been.”
Nelson said he feels the same about his team’s chances of finishing behind Logan View in the conference race.
“We will see a lot of these teams again and I think we can do really well,” he said. “I don’t know if we have enough to compete with Logan View to win it, but we’ll compete well and try to keep it close with them.”
Logan View 225.5, Oakland-Craig 159, Winside 121, Conestoga 114, Hartington CC 108, Howells-Dodge 108, West Point-Beemer 101, Winnebago 47.5, Norfolk Catholic 46, North Bend Central 45, Guardian Angels CC 44.5, Pender 37, Yutan 34, Laurel-Concord-Coleridge 29, Cedar Bluffs 0.
106: Trenton Arlt, O-C, dec. Dawson Hardesty, Conestoga, 7-1. 113: Dru Mueller, LV, tech. fall Antonio Robles, Winnebago, 22-4. 120: Koby Ellis, Winside, dec. Cesar Sandoval, Conestoga, 10-3. 126: Martin Valencia, LV, pinned Gabe Escalante, Winside, 5:19. 132: Hunter McNulty, LV, pinned Cameron Williams, Conestoga, 3:54. 138: Wyatt Smydra, NC, def. Art Escalante, Winside, inj. def. 145: Turner Korth, HCC, dec. Roberto Valdiva, 10-3.
152: Jarron Metzler, O-C, dec. Ty Miller, LV, 4-3. 160: Brady Hull, LV, dec. Ethan Koch, HCC, 3-1. 170: Zach Borer, NBC, pinned Eric French, LV, 1:45. 182: Dylan Horejsi, H-D, dec. Eric Hoesing, HCC, 6-5. 195: Hunter Thonen, Conestoga, maj. dec. Andrew Cone, LV, 15-1. 220: Joe Rodriguez, WP-B, dec. Ethan Williams, LCC, 5-1. 285: Justyn Hale, O-C, pinned Prosper Gilpin, Winnebago, 2:00.
106: Jacoby Mann, Winside, pinned Anthony Baker, Conestoga, :54. 113: Kaiden Mrsny, Pender, dec. Cayden Ellis, Winside, 4-2 (SV). 120: Trevor Jedlicka, H-D, maj. dec. Gavin Enstrom, O-C, 11-1. 126: Kerby Hochstein, HCC, over Gavin Saxton, O-C, match limit. 132: Marcos Osorio, WP-B, pinned Tyler Carlson, Winside, 1:58. 138: Jefferson McNeill, O-C, dec. Beau Kaup, LV, 11-4. 145: Francisco Mendez, NC, over Wyatt Uhing, O-C, match limit.
152: Morgan Koch, HCC, dec. Ian Virka, NBC, 4-3. 160: Jake Harriger, WP-B, maj. dec. Wyatt Hegemann, H-D, 11-2. 170: Trevor Schumacher, H-D, dec. Cash Meier, GACC, 8-2. 182: Owen Snipes, Conestoga, pinned Logan Booth, LV, 4:43. 195: Carter Jensen, H-D, pinned Fischer Carson, LCC, :17. 220: Carter Throener, H-D, dec. Alex Miller, LV, 3-2. 285: Kyle Pickhinke, H-D, pinned Darion Earth, Winnebago, 2:12.