COLUMBUS – Amid all of its success, the Norfolk High boys wrestling team did something Tuesday it hadn’t done in recent memory when the Panthers defeated Columbus 36-34 in dual action at Columbus.

The dual was also a matchup of state-ranked teams, with Norfolk holding the No. 3 spot while the Discoverers are currently listed at No. 5.

“It always feels good to beat Columbus. They’ve been a powerhouse wrestling school for years,” Norfolk coach Justin Grey said. “I honestly don’t remember ever beating Columbus in their house. We’ve tied them before when I first started coaching, but I think this is our first time in 17 years that we’ve beaten them at their place.”

The Norfolk girls squad also got its first taste of defeating the Discoverers, winning 40-12.

The Panther boys improve their dual record to 17-2 on the season, earning pins from Dylan Busch (145 pounds), Hudson Waldow (160), Jackson Bos (220) and and Brayden Heffner (285).

Norfolk also got two wins by decision, one from Devan Schmit at 138 and the other by Jacob Licking at 152.

“I told the guys before the dual to remember that we’ve been working harder. That’s how we’ve got to beat every team in Class A,” Grey said. “We’ve got to outwork them.

“I’m very proud of our guys. The effort was there, the attitude was there. We’ve got a good team that loves to scrap.”

Although Columbus also won matches by fall and three by decision – including a major decision by 195-pounder Liam Blaser over freshman Rylee Hammer – the Discoverers chose not to send an opponent onto the mat to face 2021 state champ Jesse Lewis at 113 pound resulting in six forfeit points, which ultimately resulted in Norfolk outdistancing the Discoverers on the scoreboard.

Columbus opened the dual with Cayden Kucera’s 5-2 decision over Gavin Van Driels in a meeting of ranked wrestlers in the 132-pound weight class before the Panthers rattled off four-straight wins.

“We thought we were going to win that match tonight, but Gavin gave up a takedown when he shouldn’t have,” Grey said. “If we don’t give up those points in the first period, that would have changed that match, but that was a great match to start off the night with.”

Schmit provided a spark with a 2-1 decision over Jaden McFarland at 138 that was continued by Busch’s win by fall over Tyler Zwingman.

“We knew Devan’s match was a pivotal match tonight. We knew if we win that match, we’re right where we want to be,” Grey said. “But for Dylan to go out and get the pin was huge for our team because we needed all those bonus points.”

Licking did everything he could to pin his opponent before settling for an 8-2 victory by decision over Carter Braun who, according to Grey, employed a strategy of “playing base” and choosing not to move.

“It’s a little frustrating, but there’s not much you can do, so toward the end I started cutting him loose so I could get some more points for the team, but it was good just to get a nice win,” Licking said. “I’m 21-1 right now, and I’m looking for that state championship this year.”

Waldow (17-4) pinned Kasen Grape in a 160-pound battle between a pair of sophomores, earned Grey’s praise for “wrestling more aggressively tonight over a kid he only beat by a couple of points at the Fracas (in Grand Island) two weeks ago.”

“He stood up on me when I had a single-leg, and I flared him out (blocking his legs to take away his balance) and caught a half (nelson) on the way down. I took him right to his back and stuck him,” Waldow said. “I’ve had a lot of good matches with some good kids, some that I probably shouldn’t have lost, but I learned from that to try to get better.”

The Panthers then lost four consecutive matches, beginning with freshman Jaeden Thompson’s loss by fall to Antonio Granados at 170.

“We had the guy on his back a couple times, and he was pinned, but the ref was out of position coming around,” Grey said. “We get flipped during that time, and then we get pinned. That was a 12-point swing in the dual right there, but thankfully we came out with a win tonight.”

Kayden Kettler (182) then lost a 4-2 decision to Rylee Iburg who, Grey said, is ranked second in the state. He described Kettler’s effort as “a great job after getting pinned by that kid in about 20 seconds at the Fracas, going out and wrestling a great match against a quality kid like that.”

Freshman Rylee Hammer suffered a 12-1 major decision to highly-ranked Blaser at 195 before Bos and Heffner recorded pins at 220 and 285, respectively.

“It comes down to technique, but they’ve got to apply what we teach them in the practice room, and we’ve still got some freshmen doing some things that we don’t teach,” Grey said. “So they’re learning the hard way, but Bos is just a whole new animal. That kid came out as a freshman and could barely shoot a double-leg takedown. Now he’s ranked No. 3 or 4 in the state and wrestling lights out.”

Bos said he knew he had to “try to secure some points for the team, since we had some matches that didn’t go our way, so I really used that to get some energy to go out there and (dominate) that guy. I was trying to pin him faster than the last time I saw him when I pinned him in the second period.”

Heffner’s pin followed a series of four takedowns, followed each time by an escape from his opponent, before the senior put the Discoverer on his back.

“Brayden Heffner is a man among boys right now,” Grey said. “He’s still not the top-ranked kid in his weight class right now, but we expect him to be in the finals at the state tournament.”

As the dual cycled to the lighter weights, Norfolk’s 106-pounder Ryder Kahny was pinned by Brenyn Delano to bring Columbus to within 30-22 on the scoreboard before the forfeit to Lewis at 113.

“They have two wrestlers at 106, so we were expecting them to bump (Brenyn) Delano up to wrestle Lewis because he wrestled us pretty close at the Fracas, so we were looking for that rematch,” Grey said. “(Columbus) kind of juggled their lineup around a little bit, but it came back to bite them.”

Pins by the Discoverers’ Blake Cerny over Jesus Monrroy at 120 and Adrian Bice over Calvin Empkey at 126 brought Columbus to within two points but that didn’t disrupt the Panthers’ 36-34 win.

The Norfolk girls won three of the four matches they were able to wrestle during their 40-12 win – the first dual win at Columbus by the Panthers brand new girls wrestling program.

“We moved some girls around just to get some matches where we could have got some forfeits,” Norfolk coach Jeremy Eusterwiemann said. “But we want our girls to get mat time.”

Norfolk’s wins were by sophomore Divina Torres at 100 pounds, freshman Laila Cuevas at 145 and freshman Jasmine Hallar at 114.

“Laila is inexperienced but super athletic. She weighed in at 135 today, but we bumped her up,” Eusterwiemann said. “She went right out and got the pin. She’s getting better every match.

“Jasmine just keeps getting better and better. I’ve been really pleased with her improvement. Divina missed the first half of the season, but she’s learning every day and continues to improve.”

Tiearra Pollard (120), Victoria Maxey (126), Ryllee Hoppe (132),and Kali Mangelsen (138) all won by forfeit.

Columbus secured wins via fall by Danica Taylor over Kayla Bobeldyke at 152 pounds and a win by forfeit at 165.

“We also bumped Bobeldyke up, and she wrestled a very tough girl,” Eusterwiemann said. “Even though she got beat, she’s learning and growing.”

Eusterwiemann said he doesn’t know if the girls team really understands the rivalry between Norfolk and Columbus, but “I knew they were super geared up about it, and we hope we run this string to about 20 in a row. We like beating Columbus.”

Boys results

Norfolk 36, Columbus 34

132: Caydn Kucera, COL, def. Gavin Van Driel, 5-2; 138: Devan Schmit, NOR, def. Jaden McFarland, 2-1; 145: Dylan Busch, NOR, pinned Tyler Zwingman, 0:57; 152: Jacob Licking, NOR, def. Carter Braun, 8-2; 160: Hudson Waldow, NOR, pinned Kasen Grape, 2:24; 170: Antonio Granados, COL, pinned Jaeden Thompson, 4:32; 182: Rylee Iburg, COL, def. Kayden Kettler, 4-2; 195: Liam Blaser, COL, def. Rylee Hammer, 12-1; 220: Jackson Bos, NOR, pinned Carter Fedde, 1:28; 285: Brayden Heffner, NOR, pinned Bryson Huey, 0:58; 106: Brenyn Delano, COL, pinned Ryder Kahny, 2:22; 113: Jesse Lewis, NOR, won by forfeit; 120: Blake Cerny, COL, pinned Jesus Monrroy, 0:48; 126: Adrian Bice, COL, pinned Calvin Empkey, 3:02.

Girls results

Norfolk 40, Columbus 12

126: Victoria Maxey, NOR, won by forfeit; 132: Ryllee Hoppe, NOR, won by forfeit; 138: Kali Mangelsen, NOR, won by forfeit; 145: Laila Cuevas, NOR, pinned Brianna Vidal, 5:48; 152: Danica Taylor, COL, pinned Kayla Boeldyke, 2:57; 165: Lesly Hernandez, COL, won by forfeit; 100: Divina Torres, NOR, pinned Caitlyn Campbell, 3:02; 107: Both open; 114: Jasmine Hallar, NOR, def. Marissa Anderson, 14-7; 120: Tiearra Pollard, NOR, won by forfeit.

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