PIERCE — Win conference title? Check.
Qualify for state duals? Check.
Qualify 10 individuals for state? Check.
Win district title on home mat?
The Bluejays, a team that has largely been ignored by the Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association in its team rankings, put together a solid team effort to outlast three ranked teams and a solid Central City lineup to claim the B-3 district championship Saturday afternoon at Pierce High School.
The Bluejays qualified 10 wrestlers — trailing only Hastings’ 13 qualifiers in the Class B field — and crossed off another team goal with their 18-point win over runner-up Grand Island Northwest.
Bluejays coach Tyler Legate exhibited a worn-out sense of relief after the tournament as he praised his kids’ efforts on their home mat.
“We had some good rounds,” he said. “Going in, I thought maybe we could get 10 in, but sometimes you set a bar that high and you don’t get it, but I’m glad we set the bar that high and were able to make it.”
Pierce had just two champions among its six finalists in unranked Ashton Schweitzer (152) and fifth-ranked Brett Tinker (170), but Legate said his team did a better job of finishing its matches, regardless of the outcome.
“We did a better job of finishing better, which is something I hope we carry over into state,” he said. “I feel bad for the kids who didn’t make it, but I think we’re wrestling a lot tougher right now and just need to carry that into this next week.”
Schweitzer and Tinker were joined in the finals by sixth-ranked Brock Bolling (113), Jeremiah Kruntorad (138), Michael Kruntorad (145) and Dylan Kuehler (220), all of whom finished as runners-up.
Among the four Bluejays who survived the heartbreak round and reached the consolation finals were Jayden Coulter (120), Carter Jensen (132), Zander Schweitzer (160) and Parker Sackville (182). Sackville moved up from 160 pounds and battled his way to a third-place finish, and Jensen pulled off an unusual feat by becoming a three-time qualifier in three different classes. He qualified as a sophomore for Winside in Class D in 2018, earned a trip to state last year when Pierce was in Class C, and now will wrestle in the Class B division this week in Omaha.
The Bluejays outlasted a solid Northwest team that was led by top-ranked Grady Greiss, who pinned Pierce’s Kuehler in 1:27 in the 220-pound championship to lead the Vikings’ runner-up effort.
“I thought we performed really well,” Northwest coach Bryan Sybrandts said. “Getting seven into state was about what we thought we’d get. Our 106 was a fifth-seed and stepped up today and finished third, our 182 was a seventh and got to the finals, and our three champs all wrestled well so we were very happy with our results.”
Sybrandts praised the host Bluejays for coming through in what was a tough 11-team field that saw each of the top seven teams qualify no fewer than six wrestlers.
“Pierce just wrestled outstanding today,” he said. “They’re on fire right now and we just couldn’t catch them. They have a lot of good kids and a bunch of other teams had some great individuals, so we knew it would be a battle for the top three or four spots today.”
Only one of the five NSWCA top-ranked wrestlers failed to win district titles on Saturday. Jeremy McKee of Ralston, ranked No. 1 at 113 pounds, bumped up to 120 and finished as runner-up to Malachi Bordovsky of Wahoo, who pinned McKee late in the third period.
Other NSWCA top-ranked wrestlers who earned titles included Central City’s Dyson Kunz (126), and Hunter Gillmore (132) and Remington Gay (285) of Arlington.
Sixth-ranked Drew Garfield of Central City claimed top honors at 106 pounds. Other district champs included Grady Arends (113) and Collin Quandt (138) of Northwest, Sean Martin of Seward (145), second-ranked Josh Miller (160) and third-ranked Kobe Wilkins (182) of Arlington, and third-ranked Kole Bordovsky of Wahoo at 195 pounds.
Wayne and West Point-Beemer will both be well-represented at the state tournament among area schools. The Blue Devils finished sixth and had six qualifiers, while the Cadets placed ninth and put four into the state tournament.
For Wayne, Reece Jaqua (126) and third-ranked Mike Leatherdale (285) finished as district runners-up. Reid Korth (170) and Cade Janke (195) both finished third, while Dakota Spann (182) and Martin Carrillo (220) both finished fourth.
For the Cadets, Joe Rodriguez was third at 220 pounds while Jamison Evert (113), Garret Kaup (138) and David Garcia (285) each finished fourth.
B-3 District at Pierce
Team standings (state qualifiers)
Pierce 180 (10), Northwest 162 (7), Central City 135 (6), Arlington 128 (6), Wahoo 122 (6), Wayne 96 (6), Ralston 91.5 (6), Seward 85 (3), West Point-Beemer 55.5 (4), Mount Michael 51.5 (2), Falls City 26 (0).
106: Drew Garfield, CC, maj. dec. Cash Duncan, Seward, 11-3. 113: Grady Arends, Northwest, maj. dec. Brock Bolling, Pierce, 9-0. 120: Malachi Bordovsky, Wahoo, pinned Jeremy McKee, Ralston, 5:41. 126: Dyson Kunz, CC, pinned Reece Jaqua, Wayne, 4:51. 132: Hunter Gilmore, Arlington, maj. dec. Brady Isley, Northwest, 10-1. 138: Collin Quandt, Northwest, pinned Jeremiah Kruntorad, Pierce, 3:12. 145: Sean Martin, Seward, def. Michael Kruntorad, Pierce, inj. def.
152: Ashton Schweitzer, Pierce, dec. Peyten Walling, Wahoo, 3-2. 160: Josh Miller, Arlington, maj. dec. Sam Moore, CC, 9-1. 170: Brett Tinker, Pierce, dec. Cooper Hancock, Wahoo, 12-7. 182: Kobe Wilkins, Arlington, maj. dec. Victor Isele, Northwest, 10-0. 195: Kole Bordovsky, Wahoo, maj. dec. Zach Ellington, Seward, 12-4. 220: Grady Griess, Northwest, pinned Dylan Kuehler, Pierce, 1:27. 285: Remington Gay, Arlington, dec. Mike Leatherdale, Wayne, 10-4.
106: Caleb Alcorta, Northwest, pinned Carter Cline, MM, 1:50. 113: Cole Kunz, CC, pinned Jamison Evert, WP-B, 1:19. 120: Jayden Coulter, Pierce, dec. Trevor Cooley, Arlington, 10-7. 126: Michael Maas, Ralston, dec. Sebastian Lausterer, Wahoo, 5-3 (SV). 132: Carter Jensen, Pierce, pinned Caden Corcoran, Ralston, 1:34. 138: Sam Wooten, MM, dec. Garret Kaup, WP-B, 8-1. 145: Noah Talmadge, Ralston, dec. Tanner Schneiderheinz, CC, 7-2.
152: Austin Cooley, Northwest, pinned Alex Luttig, Arlington, 4:34. 160: Trey Shanahan, Wahoo, dec. Zander Schweitzer, Pierce, 8-4. 170: Reid Korth, Wayne, dec. Jaramie Elton, CC, 1-0. 182: Parker Sackville, Pierce, dec. Dakota Spann, Wayne, 4-2. 195: Cade Janke, Wayne, pinned Aaron Fowler, Ralston, :43. 220: Joe Rodriguez, WP-B, dec. Martin Carrillo, Wayne, 5-3. 285: David Hernandez, Ralston, pinned David Garcia, WP-B, 3:07.