COZAD — Wrestling coaches want to get their wrestlers as many early season matches as possible. If it means attending a tough tournament, that’s even better.
The Cozad Invitational on Saturday hosted 13 teams from around the state in both varsity and junior varsity tournaments.
For McCook wrestling coach Nick Umshied, the tournament is a perfect way to get a young team some matches.
“We have only five varsity wrestlers in the varsity tournament,” Umshied said. “We have 19 out for wrestling and of that 19, 15 are freshmen or sophomores.
“It’s a long process. Many of them have wrestled in junior high, but they aren’t mentally ready for varsity yet. If you wrestle a younger kid on varsity and he goes 0-2, then there are a myriad of mental issues you have to work through. This way, we can bring everyone and the younger wrestlers can wrestle in the junior varsity tournament and get some valuable experience.
“I’m very proud of the effort and fight we’ve put in through this early tournament.”
For Medicine Valley head coach Barry Mraz, the Cozad Invitational is the second tough event in the first weekend of wrestling. The Raiders were 3-2 in the Southwest Dual Tournament on Thursday.
“It’s so important to get early matches,” Mraz said. “We had a late start because of the football team’s playoff run, so we need to be in better condition.
“We could see it in the dual tournament and we see it today. There’s a big difference between football shape and wrestling shape.”
Cozad head coach Derek Hammerlun was proud to host the event and knows what it means to all the teams.
“It’s not as important as the state tournament by any means, but we’re hosting it and we want to do well,” Hammerlun said. “It’s important to get off to a good start to the season and to wrestle to our capabilities.
“We want our better wrestlers to wrestle their best. More often than not you can have upsets in early tournaments with a good wrestler getting caught. You don’t want to put yourself in an early hole by losing to a district opponent you should beat, but these early tournaments are important to get mat time and to better conditioning.”
Aurora won the tournament with 211.5 points with Lexington taking second with 199.5. Adams Central was third with 153.5, followed by Seward with 149, Alliance with 147.5, Cozad with 98, Sidney with 90, Minden with 67, Medicine Valley with 60, McCook was 10th with 44.5, Gothenburg with 34.5, Ogallala with 25 and Wahoo scoring 21.
Lexington had champions in four weight classes. Winning titles for the Minutemen were Pascual Francisco at 106 pounds, Mike Nyguen at 113 pounds, Jose Ibarra at 132 pounds and Seth Shields at 145 pounds.
Also for Lexington, Rene Lazo finished second at 120 pounds, Dakota Hernandez was third at 138 pounds, Mario Barraza was fifth at 160 pounds, Jacob Mustard was sixth at 195 pounds and Edwin Perdomo was third at 220 pounds.
Of McCook’s five varsity wrestlers, Keith Helm finished fourth at 106, Kasey Taylor was third at 120 and Mitch Collicott was third at 285.
Medicine Valley’s Rulon Taylor remained unbeaten on the season, winning the title at 285. Taylor won by decision over Ehren Schwarz of Aurora, 4-3 in the final. It may have been Taylor’s last match at 285.
“He weighed in here at 225,” Mraz said. “If we get a pound at the Sutherland tournament, he might be at 220. If not, he’ll be there pretty quick.”
Cozad’s Brian Messersmith at 120, Clay Trejo at 132, Logan Hunke at 152 and Hank Pflaster at 220 all finished second in the tournament.
Here are the results by weight class:
106: 1. Pascual Francisco, Lexington; 2. Callen Christensen, Seward; 3. Austin Olson, Minden; 4. Keith Helm, McCook; 5. Cristian Hulsey, Alliance; 6. Devin Gilliland, Adams Central.
113: 1. Mike Nyugen, Lexington; 2. Trevor Alber, Aurora; 3. Tyler Alvarez, Gothenburg; 4. Nash Robinson, Adams Central; 5. Eli Moreno, Alliance.
120: 1. Devin Ushio, Alliance; 2. Brian Messersmith, Cozad; 3. Kasey Taylor, McCook; 4. Alam Alvarez, Lexington; 5. Troy Vanderheiden, Aurora; 6. Dylan Gilliland, Adams Central.
126: 1. Walker Johnson, Alliance; 2. Rene Lazo, Lexington; 3. Thomas Foster, Medicine Valley; 4. Zach Borges, Sidney; 5. Jacob Hoffman, Cozad; 6. Zach Trumble, Aurora.
132: 1. Jose Ibarra, Lexington; 2. Clay Trejo, Cozad; 3. Michael Muggli, Sidney; 4. Tyler Smith, Alliance; 5. Erik Rostvet, Adams Central; 6. Elkanah Riley, Ogallala.
138: 1. Joseph Hayek, Seward; 2. Tyler Joseph, Adams Central; 3. Dakota Hernandez, Lexington; 4. Luke Tinnon, Ogallala; 5. DJ Weare, Alliance; 6. Anthony Weller, Aurora.
145: 1. Seth Shields, Lexington; 2. Zach Grunke, Seward; 3. Cole Rostvey, Adams Central; 4. Lane Riley, Sidney; 5. Thomas Vanderheiden, Aurora; 6. Joey Kappes, Cozad.
152: 1. Derek Lonowski, Adams Central; 2. Logan Hunke, Cozad; 3. Caleb Oswald, Aurora; 4. Shad Rathjen, Seward; 5. Jeff Huesman, Alliance; 6. Lukias Higer, Sidney.
160: 1. Dawson Johsnon, Alliance; 2. Logan Geiger, Aurora; 3. Jack Berry, Adams Central; 4. Corey Guy, Seward; 5. Mario Barraza, Lexington; 6. Jedidiah Birnie, Minden.
170: 1. Keith Wolverton, Seward; 2. Marcus Todd, Aurora; 3. Quin Rutt, Minden; 4. Colton Spangler, Wahoo; 5. Nick Smith, Alliance; 6. Skyler Kottwitz, Gothenburg.
182: 1. Austin Fehlhafer, Seward; 2. Alex Brechbill, Aurora; 3. Samuel Fiest, Minden; 4. Dalton Goodwin, Gothenburg; 5. Quinten Chancellor, Medicine Valley; 6. Nathan Redding, Wahoo.
195: 1. Eli Bricker, Aurora; 2. Alex Meier, Adams Central; 3. Tanner Wintholz, Sidney; 4. Kyson Schnell, Alliance; 5. Matthew Skinner, Ogallala; 6. Jacob Mustard, Lexington.
220: 1. Austin Wonch, Aurora; 2. Hank Pflaster, Cozad; 3. Edwin Perdomo, Lexington; 4. Jesse Lincoln, Adams Central; 5. Scott Kelsey, Sidney; 6. Phoenix Duffey, Minden.
285: 1. Rulon Tayler, Medicine Valley; 2. Ehren Schwarz, Aurora; 3. Mitch Collicott, McCook; 4. Luis Nunez, Lexington; 5. Tucker Wintholz, Sidney; 6. Ben Pfeiffer, Adams Central.