KEARNEY, Neb. — Omaha Skutt wrestlers like being first.
That sparked the SkyHawks on Saturday.
With a 33-27 victory over Nebraska City, Skutt claimed the Class B title at the inaugural state dual wrestling championships.
“One of our little mottoes at Skutt is being the first at something, and they really wanted to be the first champion of the inaugural duals championship,” coach Brad Hildebrandt said.
It didn’t come easy. Despite 15 state championships in the past 16 years in the individual state tournament, the SkyHawks were in a 27-27 tie with two matches left against Nebraska City, which finished sixth in this year’s state tournament.
A takedown and a near fall with 20 seconds left in the second period of the 145-pound match proved pivotal as Jake Walker avenged a state tournament loss to Corey (Jay) Sornson and gave Skutt the lead.
Landon Gotschall sealed the win with a 4-0 decision over Zach Foyt.
“It’s probably not the way we wrote it up in the finals, but they scrapped and did what they had to do to win the dual,” Hildebrandt said.
Skutt rolled through the earlier duals in the eight-team bracket with a 60-12 win over Alliance in the first round and a 42-24 victory over Syracuse in the semifinals.
The SkyHawks won the first three matches of the final, but Nebraska City didn’t back down.
“This is the first Class B team to beat us, with three of our losses to the Class A schools we’ll see here tonight,” Nebraska City coach Tyler Hodges said.
The Pioneers won six of the next nine matches, tying the score at 12 and 27, but never took the lead.
“You can’t get any closer than that,” Hodges said. “But you have to win the close ones. In a dual like that, you’re going to have those close ones.”
Skutt won a close one when Phillip Rasmussen defeated Jake Touchstone in triple overtime at 170. Touchstone was a runner-up at the individual state tournament, while Rasmussen finished third.
Another key for Skutt came at 220 where Caden Reimers lost a 6-2 decision to Nebraska City’s Jacob Pierce. Even though Reimers didn’t win, he didn’t give up the bonus points of an injury default when he apparently dislocated his kneecap, an injury he suffered earlier in the year.
“He sucked it up,” Hildebrandt said. “He got beat, but he finished the match.”
That type of heroism is one thing Hildebrandt said he likes about the dual championship format.
“It was a little different. I really enjoyed it,” he said. “It’s a little more relaxed feeling but still it was fun and good, quality wrestling.
“I love the dynamics of it. You may have a kid who didn’t qualify for the state tournament, but he can win a match in a dual or fight and not get pinned and be a huge contributor to a team’s success.”
Omaha Skutt 33, Nebraska City 27
160 pounds: Nick Hollins, Skutt, pinned DJ Marco, 1:05. 170: Phillip Rasmussen, Skutt, dec. Jacob Touchstone, 2-1 TB. 182: Alex Kenkel, Skutt, dec. Trenten Dolezal, NC, 4-0. 195: Keyes Nelson, NC, dec. Nick Jensen, 4-1. 220: Jacob Pierce, NC, dec. Caden Reimers, 6-2. 285: Trenton Kasbohm, NC, pinned Alex Gould, 1:36. 106: Brian Peska, Skutt, tech. fall Tony Heng, 17-2. 113: JT Sloboth, Skutt, pinned Darin Sornson, 0:37. 120: Kyle Francois, NC, pinned Kaleb Trausch, 3:11. 126: Bailey Vanderpool, Skutt, dec. Andrew Christiansen, 12-2. 132: Jesse Barton, NC, pinned Tyler Bolemperti, 5:35. 138: Tommie Knapp, NC, dec. Nick Hines, 5-2. 145: Jake Walker, Skutt, dec. Corey (Jay) Sornson, 11-5. 152: Landon Gotschall, Skutt, dec. Zach Foyt, 4-0.