KEARNEY, Neb. — Amherst kept rolling.
The Broncos followed up their fourth straight championship at the state wrestling tournament by winning the Class D championship at the first state dual wrestling championships, routing Pender 52-21 in the finals.
“It's an incredible feeling,” Amherst coach Tyler Herman said. “It's been a great season. We've done a lot of good things all year long and this is just a great way to cap off the season.”
The Broncos made a statement early with Morgan Ostendorf, a non-state qualifier, coming from behind to pin A.J. Rutar in the 160-pound bout, the first weight class in the finals.
“That got everything going on the right foot. That was huge. It was a tight match and he got a reversal and a pin and it just kept going from there,” Herman said.
And go Amherst did, picking up four pins and two forfeits in the next six matches.
“That momentum is huge. … When we have kids win early in duals, that momentum kept building and building and the kids feed off that confidence and it just gets better with each match,” Herman said.
The Broncos know momentum well. A week earlier, at the individual state meet, momentum swung both ways on Amherst. After sending eight to the semifinal, the Broncos lost six of those eight matches to fall 30.5 points behind Pender. Last Saturday morning, the momentum went the other way and they won 14 of 15 matches to win the Class D title.
The momentum stayed with them for a week and emerged in their semifinal dual with Plainview.
In successive matches, Logan Dibbern avenged a semifinal state tournament loss by pinning Corby Forbes, and Devin Dibbern scored a major decision over state runner-up Evan Aschoff.
“I know our boys would be excited for that dual because their 132-pounder beat us last week in the semis, their 138-pounder finished ahead of us,” Herman said. “So we had no trouble getting up for these duals today and we got a little revenge.”
Meanwhile, in its semifinal win over Bayard, Pender lost its 160-pounder, Klint Conroy, to a knee injury — a tough blow to a team already short-handed at some weights.
Pender coach Dennis Oliver juggled his lineup, moving Rutar up from 150 and three-time state champion Jacob Sebade to 145 from 138.
“My experience is, if you bump kids up into a heavier kid, they're not going to wrestle the same,” Oliver said. “It's just harder to do that.”
But he had little choice, and in the penultimate bout, Amherst's Mason Klingelhoefer pinned Sebade in overtime.
“That was a big win for him and a big win for the dual,” Herman said.
With the dual result, Pender accepted another runner-up trophy. The Pendragons have been second to Amherst the past thee years at the state meet.
“Do we like second? No, we don't,” Oliver said. “We're tired of getting second, but that's what we got and what my kids earned.
“I don't like losing, never have. … I always expect to win, but I also understand the result we get. There was not much more we could have done.”