OMAHA — State champions Colton Adams and Keegan Hessler lifted the Scottsbluff wrestling team to a runner-up finish at the Class B state tournament on Saturday at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha.
Adams became just the second wrestler in Scottsbluff history to win three state titles by finishing first at 132 pounds, while Hessler claimed his first championship with a top finish at 113.
The first-place finishes, along with four other Bearcats placing in medalist contention, helped Scottsbluff to its third straight top-five finish at state. The Bearcats piled up 119 points to finish second behind only Omaha Skutt Catholic, who won the team title with 146.5.
“I’m really proud of the guys, and with the way they wrestled this weekend. They gave a great effort,” Scottsbluff coach James Miller said. “We figured we were a top two or three team coming in, so it was awesome that the guys stepped up to the challenge to finish second.”
Alliance’s Tyson Dowler and Chadron’s Colby Riesen also finished on top of the medal stand by winning individual state titles Saturday. Dowler capped off an undefeated senior season by placing first at 152, while Chadron’s Riesen concluded his career with a state title at 160.
Adams and Hessler’s top finishes capped a stellar three days of wrestling for Scottsbluff.
Adams earned a 9-3 decision over Cozad’s Clay Trejo in the 132 final. On his way to winning his third straight title, the junior set a new Nebraska all-class state record for wins in a season with 53. Adams now owns a season record of 53-1.
Hessler’s title at 113 helped the sophomore improve his impressive season tally to 50-3. In what might have been seen as an upset to some, Hessler picked up a tight 5-3 decision over Omaha Skutt’s JT Sloboth in the final.
“It’s a great feeling,” Hessler said of his championship. “I came up a little bit short losing in the heartbreak round last year, so it felt great to come back strong and pull through for the team this year. It was one of my ultimate goals.”
After trailing Sloboth following the first period, Hessler went to work to get the match in his favor over the next two periods. Hessler recorded a key reversal in the second period, which led to him picking up crucial back points to go in front for good. He then held on in the closing minutes to secure the victory.
“I knew I had to wrestle a whole, complete match because he is a good wrestler,” Hessler said. “I just went out and wrestled my match and kept the pace in my favor. He’s a really tough guy. I just ended up pulling through in the end.”
Scottsbluff also received a runner-up finish from Cruz Delacruz in Saturday’s final at 106. Delacruz dropped a 10-4 decision to Omaha Skutt’s Brian Peska.
Three other Bearcats managed to end up with medals in the consolation rounds. Sabian Harsh wrestled his way back for a third-place finish at 145, Joseph Flores-Ybarra placed fourth at 120, and Andrew Aratani ended fifth at 285.
Chadron’s Riesen became the Cardinals’ first state champion in three years after pinning Plattsmouth’s Nick Null early in the second period of their final at 160. The win helped Riesen avenge an early-season setback to Null at a tournament in Valentine.
“This is a dream I’ve had forever,” said Riesen, who finished his senior season with a record of 41-3. “You start out wrestling as an 8-year old, and this is what you work for. It just feels pretty dang amazing. I’m still on a high right now and I hope I don’t come off for a while. It feels really good.”
Riesen concluded his career with three state medals in four trips. In addition to his first-place finish, he placed third last year and finished sixth as a sophomore.
“I knew I’d be in the race to win it this year. But now that I’ve won it, I’m a little shocked,” Riesen said. “I’m just super happy with it right now.”
Chadron finished the tournament with two other medalists. Chance Bila finished sixth after an injury default at 170 and Willy Cogdill was sixth at 152. The Cardinals ended 13th in the team standings.
Alliance managed a fifth-place finish with five state medalists. In addition to Dowler’s championship finish, Devin Ushio placed third at 120, Walker Johnson was third at 126, Dawson Johnson finished fourth at 160, and Tyler Smith ended sixth at 138.
Two other local wrestlers claimed medals in Class B. Gering’s Baily Hort wrestled back for a third-place finish at 113 and Sidney’s Tanner Wintholz earned a third-place finish at 195.