BATTLE CREEK — At the start of the year, there were a lot of question marks in the Battle Creek wrestling room as the Braves had to replace several seniors from last year’s team that finished fourth in Class C.
Some of those questions are appearing to have answers as the Braves continue to improve this season, with the Braves winning three individual titles Saturday while keeping the championship trophy to the Battle Creek Invitational at home once again.
While the weather kept a few teams home from Saturday’s tournament, the Braves made the most of the day and won several key matches late to put a 51.5-point spacing between them and runner-up Howells-Dodge in the 12-team tournament.
“We were kind of fortunate this year,” Braves coach Cody Wintz said of the team’s 12th straight win in their own tournament. “The tournament was affected by the weather and cost us four teams, but regardless of that I thought our kids wrestled really well and we had a little more depth that helped us accumulate some points.”
Saturday’s win showed just how far the Braves had come from when they opened the season six weeks ago in Creighton.
“I think we’ve come along quite a ways,” Wintz said. “We’ve got a young team that is working hard and had some kids back that didn’t have earlier this season, and now we’re going to be able to fill every weight but heavyweight. They’ve come a long way, but with our district being as tough as it looks we’re going to have to keep working hard.”
The Braves were led by NSWCA Class C No. 3 Owen Lade, who ran the table in round-robin action at 138 pounds to lead three Battle Creek grapplers at the top of the medal stand. Kobe Thompson beat JV teammate Korbyn Battershaw in the finals at 145 pounds, and Kaden Warneke earned his first career individual title with a win over Zachery Randall at 152 pounds.
One of the marquee matchups in the final round came right off the bat at 106 pounds, where Class D No. 3 Hunter Bennett of Elkhorn Valley squared off with Class C No. 3 Trenton Arlt of Oakland-Craig. Bennett scored takedowns in the first and second period and was able to hold off the Knights’ junior down the stretch for a 4-3 decision in the first-place match.
Another came later in the finals at 170 pounds, where Class D’s top-ranked wrestler, Stanton’s Issiah Borgmann, was able to hang on for a 5-2 win over Wyatt Hegemann of Howells-Dodge, who was listed as a contender in the latest NSWCA rankings.
Howells-Dodge dominated the heavier weights to claim runner-up honors on the day, with Levi Belina (160), Trevor Schumacher (182), Carter Throener (220) and Kyle Pickhinke (285) claiming first-place titles.
“It always makes you nervous when you don’t have practice the day before, but I thought we had a nice week and wrestled well last weekend at Wisner, which helped us out here,” Jaguars coach Brian Jones said. “We’ve been working on being more physical and wrestling hard, and I think we saw some of that today.”
Other winners on the day included Braxton Volk of Pender (113), Adam Miller of Elkhorn Valley (126), William Poppe of Crofton/Bloomfield (132), and Lutheran High Northeast’s Jazper Ames (195).
Battle Creek Invitational
Battle Creek 192.5, Howells/Dodge 141, Elkhorn Valley 115.5, Oakland-Craig 107, Crofton/Bloomfield 82, Summerland 82, Pender 66, Stanton 51, Battle Creek JV 49, Lutheran High NE 35, Scribner-Snyder 18, Niobrara/Verdigre 9.
106: Hunter Bennett, EV, dec. Trenton Arlt, O-C, 4-3.
113: (round robin) 1. Braxton Volk, Pender; 2. Zack Hartl, EV.
120: (round robin) 1. Caden Meinke, BC; 2. Jaxon Smutz, S-S.
126: (round robin) 1. Adam Miller, EV; 2. Boston Reeves, BC.
132: (round robin) 1. William Poppe, C/B; 2. Reed Bennett, EV.
138: (round robin) 1. Owen Lade, BC; 2. Tyson Sauser, C/B.
145: 1. Kobe Thompson, BC, dec. Korbyn Battershaw, BCJV, 5-4.
152: (round robin) 1. Kaden Warneke, BC; 2. Zachery Randall, Pender.
160: (round robin) 1. Levi Belina, H/D; 2. Traven Croghan, BC.
170: 1. Issiah Borgmann, Stanton, dec. Wyatt Hegemann, H/D, 5-2.
182: (round robin) 1. Trevor Schumacher, H/D; 2. Jarron Metzler, O-C.
195: (round robin) 1. Jazper Ames, LHNE; 2. Colton Thiele, Summerland.
220: (round robin) 1. Carter Throener, H/D; 2. Jared Janssen, C/B.
285: (round robin) 1. Kyle Pickhinke, H/D; 2. Caden Reikofski, EV.
106: Hudson Barger, C/B, dec. Layne Sturek, Pender, 10-4.
113: (round robin) 3. Carter Bousquet, O-C; 4. Hunter Kreikemeier, BCJV.
120: (round robin) 3. Tristan Smith, EV; 4. Spencer Kester, Summerland.
126: (round robin) 3. Rafe Grebin, Summerland.
132: (round robin) 3. Eli Thiele, Summerland; 4. Trevor Jedlicka, H/D.
138: (round robin) 3. Lucas Hilliard, O-C; 4. James Kester, Summerland.
145: Tavis Uhing, O-C, def. Alex Arroyo, Summerland, forfeit.
152: (round robin) 3. Jacob Hegemann, H/D; 4. Kaleb Kummer, BCJV.
160: (round robin) 3. Jacob Bruns, Pender; 4. Michael Glynn, EV.
170: Kase Thompson, BC, def. Tom Maline, O-C, forfeit.
182: (round robin) 3. Sutton Pohlman, Stanton; 4. Gavin Chohon, N/V.
195: (round robin) 3. Jacob Ottis, BC; 4. Landon Hilliard, O-C.
220: (round robin) 3. Dahlas Zlomke, BC; 4. Laurence Brands, O-C.
285: (round robin) 3. Paxton Bartels, C/B; 4. Chantz Ames, LHNE.