COLUMBUS — Fremont High School qualified eight wrestlers for state on Saturday during the A-3 district wrestling meet.
The Tigers finished fourth in the team standings with 100 points — just one behind third-place Omaha Bryan. Columbus won the team title with 237.5 while Papillion-LaVista was the runner-up with 174.
“I was pleased with how our guys battled through the tournament,” Fremont coach Ben Wilcox said. “Our goal was to qualify eight to 10 wrestlers for state and our guys worked hard to turn that goal into a reality.”
Wilcox said the Tigers were prepared for the challenges of the postseason.
“All week in practice we stressed how nothing was going to be given to them and if they wanted to qualify for state, they would have to go out there and take it,” Wilcox said. “Even though we qualified eight, it wasn’t easy. After the semifinal round, we only had two wrestlers make it to the finals leaving us with nine wrestling in the heartbreak round.”
The Tigers, however, have excelled during adversity.
“We’ve had our backs against the wall a few times this season and we weren’t going to let that keep us from achieving our goal,” Wilcox said.
Cody Carlson (126) and Noah Molzahn (138) finished second in their respective weight classes.
Carlson pinned Cade Hargis of Omaha Westside in 2:14 before beating second-ranked LaDamien Sturdivant of Omaha Bryan 2-1. Carlson then lost 10-3 to third-ranked Cody Niemiec of Papillion-La Vista in the finals.
“Cody’s bracket included three ranked wrestlers,” Wilcox said. “It is going to be exciting to see how the Class A 126-pound bracket will shake out at state. It may the be the toughest weight class in the entire state.”
The division includes six returning state medalists. Three of them, including Carlson, are state finalists.
“Any of the top-five ranked wrestlers at 126 could win the state title,” Wilcox said. “It is going to come down to who is the most mentally prepared and who makes the least mistakes.”
Molzahn opened with a bye before he defeated Landon Roberts of Papillion-La Vista 12-5. In the championship match, Preston Mohrt of Lincoln Northeast won by fall in 1:36.
“Noah had a solid tournament and was able to finish as district runner-up,” Wilcox said.
Tommy Wentz (145), Riley Fox (170) and Trevin Escamilla (220) finished third in their respective weight classes. Luke Follett (120), Hunter Robertson (152) and Garret Moser (195) were fourth.
“Both Hunter and Tommy started the tournament as the No. 2 seed in their respective weight classes,” Wilcox said. “Unfortunately, they both suffered a defeat in the semifinals, but I am proud of them for being mentally tough and wrestling back to qualify for state.”
Wentz went 3-1 at the meet, including a 9-8 decision over Camdyn Iwan of Columbus in the third-place match. Robertson won two matches by pins. He lost to Cade Fullner of Columbus by fall in :51 of their third-place match.
Wilcox said Fox was moved to 170 at the last minute for the tournament.
“We felt like he had a greater chance of qualifying for state and we were correct,” he said.
Fox defeated Henry Lynch of Lincoln Southwest 7-1 in the third-place match. He finished 3-1 in the tournament.
Escamilla had three rated wrestlers in his division. After losing to fourth-ranked Jaylon Walker of Bryan in the semifinals, hr rebounded for two-straight wins. He pinned Quincy JG Hogan of Westside by pin in 2:35 of the third-place match.
Wilcox was also proud of Follett and Moser.
“Both of those young men work their tails off and I’m happy to see good things happen to good kids,” he said. “We are excited about qualifying eight for the state tournament and our guys are chomping at the bit to compete.”
Follett opened with a bye. After suffering a loss, he pinned Yusuf Mohamed of Omaha Bryan in :36 before losing his third-place match to Jaxon Morrow of Lincoln Southwest by fall (:39).
Moser lost his opener, but recorded back-to-back pins over Loren Woita of Westside (4:14) and Alek Abels of Papillion-La Vista (1:58). Evan Johnson of Elkhorn edged him 4-2 in the third-place match.
Team Scores — Columbus 237.5, Papillion-La Vista 174, Omaha Bryan 100, Fremont 99, Omaha Westside 90.5, Lincoln Northeast 88, Lincoln Southwest 78.5, Elkhorn 39.