The Grand Island Senior High wrestling team got the challenge it wanted from Omaha Burke at the Flatwater Fracas Wrestling Tournament.
And just like the Islanders have done in the past four years, they responded.
The top-ranked and four-time defending Class A state champion Islanders were down 16-3 to the No. 2 Bulldogs, but GISH battled back to win eight of the final nine matches to take a 40-19 victory Saturday at the Heartland Events Center.
The tournament victory gives the Islanders their fifth consecutive Fracas title. They also defeated Cheyenne East (Wyo.)
51-17, and Kearney 49-15 on Saturday. Cheyenne East finished second by going 2-1, while Burke went 1-2 to take third.
Grand Island finished 7-0 in the two-day tournament and had two wrestlers finish undefeated in Matt Bolan (126-132 pounds) and Javier Silva (220).
“We just wanted to come out here to make a statement that we are still the best in the state and also getting a win over a great out-of-state team as well,” Bolan said. “It feels great to win this event once again.”
Islander coach Mike Schadwinkel said he was thrilled to see the Islanders respond after falling behind 16-3 to Burke.
“We were down quite a bit and had to bounce back to win some matches. We just came storming back,” Schadwinkel said. “We got some big bonus points that helped out quite a bit. That’s big for us.
“(The Fracas) is a team event and our team rose to the occasion when we needed to.”
The Islanders got a victory at 126 that featured a matchup of returning state champions with GISH’s Trey Trujillo, a 2011 champion and ranked No. 3, and Burke’s Jacob Wilcoxen, a two-time champion and ranked No. 1.
Both wrestlers were tied at 1-all in the third period before Trujillo put Wilcoxen on his back and got the pin at 5 minutes, 32 seconds. The victory gave Grand Island a commanding 37-19 lead. It also came after Trujillo fell to Kearney’s Hunter Bamford, No. 2 in the weight class, 6-1 earlier in the day.
“I did a front trip and squeezed as hard as I could to get the pin and I was successful,” Trujillo said. “It felt great to bounce back like that.”
Schadwinkel said the victory was big for Trujillo.
“That’s awesome,” Schadwinkel said. “It came down to one guy taking a chance and Trey happened to be the one that took that chance and took advantage of it.”
Andrew Rojas got the Islanders on the board first to start the dual at 138. Rojas, who is ranked No. 2 at 132 but wrestled at 138, upset No. 1 Jared Green 7-4. Rojas broke a 4-all tie with an escape and a takedown in the third period to win the match.
But Burke came back with wins from Jordan Hammond (No. 3 at 145), Justice Bridgeford (No. 1 at 152), Patrick Kelly (160) and Joe Contreas (No. 3 at 170) to take the 16-3 lead.
Jose Ceballos got the Islanders back on track with an 11-6 win over Braden Collins at 182. Chase Reis, No. 1 at 195, got a forfeit victory before Javier Silva, No. 3 at 220, earned an 11-3 victory over James Simpson to tie the dual at 16-all.
Grand Island took a 19-16 lead after Juan Medina took a 3-0 lead over Andrew Pistillo at 285 before Burke came back to tie it back up after Otis Rollins, No. 5 at 106, posted a 8-2 win over Blake Coen.
John Mottl (113) and Dante Rodriguez (No. 1 at 120) recorded back-to-back pins to give Grand Island a 31-19 lead before Trujillo’s pin over Wilcoxen. Bolan (132) closed the dual with a 5-0 win over Matt Abdouch.
Schadwinkel said winning the Fracas was a good victory for the Islanders, but he knows the Islanders need to keep getting better. Grand Island will see Burke again at the Omaha Creighton Prep Invite Dec. 29.
“We need to feel good about it, but Burke’s a great team and we are going to see them again,” Schadwinkel said. “This is a good step in the right direction but there are bigger events and we got to be ready for in the end when it counts.”
Northwest, GICC go 0-3 on second day
The Northwest and Grand Island Central Catholic wrestling teams didn’t have the kind of day they wanted in going 0-3 Saturday.
The Vikings fell to Norfolk 41-33, Central City 50-30, and Aurora 49-25. Northwest however did have a few wrestlers go undefeated on the day in Devon Schmidt (106) and Noah Lau (132).
“We saw some good competition today. I thought our kids battled even though I don’t think we had the same intensity as we did yesterday,” Northwest coach Brian Sybrandts said. “However it’s a good learning experience for those kids, especially the younger ones. We did have some kids do well for us.”
The Crusaders fell to Adams Central 71-12, Holdrege 67-6 and Lincoln Southeast 78-6. Mitch Maginnis was the lone wrestler to go undefeated in the tournament at 7-0.