Published Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 12:01 am / Updated at 12:32 am
Wildcats rally for dual victory at home

MAXWELL — One coach was happy to have a home dual, while the other wanted to show his team that wrestling was a sport followed in small towns as much as large ones.

Maxwell hosted Ralston Valley, Colo., in a dual on Thursday and the Wildcats rallied from a deep hole to win 42-36.

“This was great,” said Maxwell coach Ryan Jones. “I was thrilled with the turnout for our first dual match in 7 years.

“We had a good crowd and it was loud.”

Ralston Valley, located in Arvada, Colo., a northwest suburb of Denver, sought a dual prior to attending the Flatwater Fracas in Grand Island.

“We tried to do something last year, but all the teams were full,” said Mustangs head coach Bruce Pearson. “We talked to several schools and someone suggested Coach Jones at Maxwell.

“I got a hold of him and he sent a contract right away.”

Pearson, in his third year at Ralston Valley, coached for many years in California and is a proponent of traveling to tough tournaments for better competition.

“Coming here, I am able to show my wrestlers that wrestling is followed in the small towns just like the big ones,” Pearson said. “We prepared them a little. I pulled up the Maxwell web site and showed them the downtown.”

For Jones, it was an opportunity to host a dual and to get more matches for his team.

Maxwell suffered losses in six of the first seven matches, the only win coming at 220 when Charley Kesterson pinned Conner Zimmerman.

“Charley’s pin was huge for us,” Jones said. “They got on a roll and without the six points he got us, we don’t win.”

Maxwell’s rally from a 33-6 deficit started at 132 pounds. Ethan Lunkwitz earned a second period pin over Dominic Phifer to cut the lead to 33-12. Drew Riggs kept the momentum going with a second period pin of Danny Holz at 138 to cut the margin to 33-18.

Jaylon Sturdivant continued the rally at 145 pounds with an impressive first period pin of Russ Gonzalez at 145 pounds to cut the margin to 33-24. Ralston Valley was open at 152 pounds, giving Jacob Whisenhunt a forfeit win which dropped the lead to 33-30.

Taylor McKeeman of Maxwell gave the Wildcats their first lead in the dual with a pin over John Westbrook just before the first period ended. The pin gave the Wildcats a 36-33 advantage.

Cal Boland joined the pin party at 170 pounds with a second period pin of Tanner Hauptman to lift Maxwell to a 42-33 advantage with one match to go, sealing the win for the Wildcats.

The best match of the night was the final one at 182 pounds. Ralston Valley’s Steve Ullman, ranked in Colorado’s top five at 182, took on Dylan

Gage, who is ranked in Class D in Nebraska.

Gage took a 4-3 lead into the third period. Ullman chose down to start the third period and scored a reverse to take a 5-4 lead.

Gage tried to get an escape or reversal at the end of the period, but the referee ruled Ullman maintained control, giving the match to Ullman and the three team points to the Mustangs for the 42-36 final.

“That match was just a good match between two very good wrestlers,” Jones said. “It was Dylan’s first loss, but he’ll learn from it.”

After the match the Mustangs loaded up to travel to Grand Island.

“Even though we’re getting in late, we’ll be all right,” Pearson said. “Our first match isn’t until 1 p.m. against Grand Island, so we’ll get our rest.

“This is a fun trip and hopefully we can do this again next year.”

Each week during the high school sports season, highlights a matchup in the ongoing "Hiland Dairy Game of the Week" series. Previous matchups »

Refuel with Hiland »

< >
2013 All-Nebraska football, volleyball teams
View The World-Herald's selections to the 2013 All-Nebraska football and volleyball teams.
2013 Super Six football team
Meet The World-Herald's 2013 Super Six team, honoring the area's top college football prospects.
All-Nebraska basketball teams 'shake' it up
Being known more for their ability to shake off a defender than for their dance moves didn't stop our 2013 All-Nebraska basketball selections from busting a few "Harlem Shake"-inspired moves.
Facebook: Nebraska Prep Zone Page
The Nebraska Prep Zone Facebook page is your home on the social web to get the latest Nebraska prep sports news, photos, updates and more from around the Midlands.
Map: Nebraska Stadiums
Need help finding a stadium in the state of Nebraska? We've got you covered with this interactive map of high school and college facilities from across the state.
Nebraska high school all-time swimming leaders
See a complete list of the all-time leaders from Nebraska high school swimming and diving competition.
Nebraska high school all-time track charts
See a complete list of the all-time leaders from Nebraska high school track and field competition.
The disappearance of small-town football
Friday night lights across rural Nebraska are going dark. But one town, in its last season of gridiron independence, proved that school spirit is stronger than ever.
Western Iowa high school all-time track charts
See a complete list of the all-time leaders from Western Iowa high school track and field competition.