OAKLAND — Jacob Johnson will be returning to the state wrestling tournament this week and the Fremont Bergan junior will have some company
Johnson was one of five Knights earn state berths Saturday in the D-2 district tournament at Oakland-Craig. The 138-pound junior will be joined in Omaha by teammates Zach Hamilton (113), Ethan Villwok (170), Peyton Cone (195) and Eli Simonson (220).
“I think we won a few matches that I wasn’t sure we’d be able to pick up and that is just a testament to the mental toughness of our kids,” Bergan coach Curtis Marolf said. “They didn’t get down when they were down in matches. They just responded pretty well. In general, I was pretty pleased with our performances.”
With just six athletes competing, the Knights finished seventh in the tournament with 88.5 points. Elkhorn Valley won the title with 162 while Tri County was runner-up with 140. The host school was sixth with 110.
Hamilton captured the district championship. He opened with a pin of Rafe Grebin of Clearwater-Orchard in :55. He then won by fall over Hayse Wetzel of Palmer in :49.
In the semifinals, Hamilton beat Adam Miller of Elkhorn Valley 9-4. He then won an 8-0 major decision over Preston Action of Southern in the finals.
Hamilton moved from 120 to 113 late last month.
“He is holding his weight real well and is managing his nutrition the right way,” Marolf said. “He has a great energy level. He is tougher than nails when he is on top. When he gets on top of a kid, they aren’t scoring. ... He has turned into quite a hammer at 113.”
Villwok was the runner-up at 170. The sophomore pinned Trey Zimmerman of Clarkson-Leigh in :50. He then earned a 6-2 decision over Codey Snider of Clearwater-Orchard. Villwok then beat Tim Markvicka 12-11 in a tiebreaker.
In the championship, Villwok lost 12-7 to Brock Schaechter of Elkhorn Valley.
Villwok played basketball until joining the wrestling team in January of 2017.
“People need to realize he barely has a season of wrestling under his belt,” Marolf said. “He is such a good athlete and is such a strong kid. He was 182 and dropped to 170. He won’t get pushed around by a bigger kid because there probably isn’t a bigger 170-pounder or a stronger one.”
Markvicka was ranked fifth in the state.
“Ethan just wasn’t going to be denied a chance to get to state,” Marolf said. “That is a testament to his mental toughness and competitive drive.”
Johnson finished third in a loaded 138-pound bracket. The junior, who was fifth at state as a sophomore at 132, was one of four ranked wrestlers competing, Marolf said.
After winning by technical fall (17-0) over Trey Sucha of Niobrara/Verdigre and pinning Dominic Stewart of Thayer Central (1:38), Johnson lost 14-9 to Jefferson McNeill of Oakland-Craig in the ultimate tiebreaker.
“I usually give kids a little bit of time after a match, but I went straight back with him after that got over,” Marolf said. “I told him that match was done and we weren’t thinking about it for a second. If he didn’t mentally regroup, he very well could’ve lost his (next) match to the Amherst kid.”
Johnson took care of business by pinning Riley Gallaway of Amherst in 4:11. He then beat Derek Wortman of Creighton 9-5 in the third-place match.
“He’s been there before and has wrestled tough matches and tough kids,” Marolf said. “He got himself ready to go.”
Johnson’s win over Gallaway was the 100th of his career. He was one of three in the weight class to pick up career win No. 100 in the tournament.
“It was crazy,” Marolf said. “It was a deep weight class. All four of the kids that were ranked were state medalists last year.”
Simonson, a sophomore, finished third. He opened with a bye before earning a 7-1 win over Aaron Urwiller of Amherst in the quarterfinals. Simonson was pinned by Chase Barnts of Tri County in 5:13 of the semifinals, but he won his next two matches by pins.
“We thought we could’ve won the semifinal match, but the kid was tough on top and turned us when he had to,” Marolf said. “Eli made a statement in his next match (pin in :38 against Laurence Brands of Oakland-Craig). He put him down pretty quick.”
Cone went 2-2 in contested matches to earn a berth as a sophomore.
“Both of the kids he beat (Dakota Crosley of Niobrara/Verdigre and Keegan Benson of Cambridge) bumped up to 195 so they were a little more athletic and a little quicker, but he wasn’t going to be denied,” Marolf said.
Dylan Swenson led Oakland-Craig by winning the championship at 132. McNeill and Justyn Hale (285) were second-place finishers for O-C while freshman Trenton Arlt was third.
D-2 at Oakland-Craig
TEAM SCORING-STATE QUALIFIERS
Elkhorn Valley-162-7, Tri County 140-6, Cambridge 124-4, Amherst 115-4, Palmer 111.5-5, Oakland-Craig 110-4, Archbishop Bergan 88.5-5, Thayer Central-3, High Plains 77-4, Creighton 65.5-3, Clearwater-Orchard 57-3, Clarkson-Leigh 47-2, Twin Loup 46-2, Scribner-Snyder-1, Elgin PJ 20-1, Southern 19-1, Osmond 17-0, Brld 11-1, Niobrara/Verdigre 7-0, Lutheran High 0-0.
106—1. Logan Russell, High Plains, pinned Hunter Bennett, Elkhorn Valley, 5:27 3. Trenton Arlt, Oakland-Craig, dec. Garett Jensen, Palmer, 9-7.
113—1. Zach Hamilton, Archbishop Bergan, maj. dec. Preston Acton, Southern, 8-0 3. Adam Miller, Elkhorn Valley, dec. Drew Garrison, Tri County, 7-0.
120—1. Dillon Stewart, Elkhorn Valley, dec. Ruger Reimers, Palmer, 5-2 3. Isaiah Shields, Amherst, pinned Clay Church, High Plains, 4:39.
126—1. Keegan Casey, Thayer Central, pinned Ethan Paxton, Tri County, 1:26 3. Zack MillerSickels, Cambridge, pinned Logan Henn, Elgin PJ, :32.
132—1. Dylan Swenson, Oakland-Craig, maj. dec. Damian Stewart, Thayer Central, 15-1 3. Derek Gurnsey, Clarkson-Leigh, pinned Peter Spilker, Tri County, 2:56.
138—1. Darren Stewart, Elkhorn Valley, dec. Jefferson McNeill, Oakland-Craig, 9-5 3. Jacob Johnson, Archbishop Bergan, dec. Derek Wortman, Creighton, 9-5.
145—1. Joshua McFarland, Elkhorn Valley, dec. Colby Coons, Twin Loup, 9-4 3. Samuel Florell, Amherst, dec. Josh McMillen, Scribner-Snyder, 5-3.
152—1. Connor Donscheski, Palmer, maj. dec. Dylan Soule, High Plains, 9-1 3. Jackson Feulner, Thayer Central, pinned Payten Bottorf, Twin Loup, 3:28.
160—1. Spencer Wichmann, Palmer, pinned Trace Baasch, Amherst, 1:09 3. Tim Zimmerman, Clarkson-Leigh, pinned JD Kuhlman, Creighton, 3:57.
170—1. Brock Schaecher, Elkhorn Valley, dec. Ethan Villwok, Archbishop Bergan, 12-7 3. Timothy Markvicka, High Plains, won by tech. fall over Brandon Beeson, Tri County, 15-0, 4:25.
182—1. Matthew Pearson, Cambridge, dec. Shawn Klientobe, Elkhorn Valley, 13-6 3. Clay Thiele, Clearwater-Orchard, pinned Justin Kuta, Palmer, 2:19.
195—1. Cooper Smith, Tri County, dec. Levi Stacken, Creighton, 8-5 3. Drew Bogard, Amherst, dec. Peyton Cone, Archbishop Bergan, 17-13.
220—1. Seth Andrews Cambridge, maj. dec. Chase Barnts, Tri County, 14-2 3. Eli Simonson, Archbishop Bergan, pinned Donaven Nolze, Clearwater-Orchard, 3:46.
285—1. Tyler Schultz, Cambridge, won bu sv-1 over Justyn Hale, Oakland-Craig, 3-1 3. Tommie Peed, Clearwater-Orchard, pinned Seth Totten, Brld, 1:25.