Creighton senior Bryce Zimmerer capped off his high school wrestling career with a state runner-up medal.
He marched through the arena of the CHI Health Center in the Parade of Champions, in front of more than 10,000 spectators Saturday afternoon and entered the arena under the spotlight for his final high school match.
Nearly 900 high school wrestlers from across the state, along with an entourage of coaches, family members and hometown fans, converged on the CHI facility Thursday morning with dreams of winning a state championship.
Through the course of the three-day NSAA Wrestling Championships, contenders were eliminated, until just 112 remained - 28 in each of the four classes.
Taking the mat at 170 pounds Saturday afternoon, the Bulldog grappler faced a well-known foe - Randolph’s Noah Scott - for the sixth time in their senior season. They had traded victories, Zimmerer winning twice, at the Creighton and Plainview invites, Scott three times, at the Battle Creek Invite, the conference tournament last month, and in the semifinals of the District D-3 contest in Fremont. Scott had one more loss, to Carl Mundt of Nebraska Christian at the Elgin Invite.
They had met on the Omaha mats before as well. Zimmerer defeated Scott at 145 pounds in the consolations on the way to his first state wrestling medal in 2017.
But this time, Scott came out on top, pinning Zimmerer late in the third period, to win the gold.
Zimmerer started the tournament Thursday with a 3-0 win over Neligh-Oakdale’s Kaleb Pofahl, who entered the tournament with a 39-11 record.
He then won a 15-0 technical fall over Talan Mcgill, a 38-11 junior from St. Patrick’s in North Platte, in the quarterfinals, assuring the Creighton athlete a state medal.
In Friday evening’s semifinals, the Creighton wrestler outscored Jaren Potts, a 30-6 Amherst junior, 6-1.
Although he didn’t bring home a state medal, Creighton’s Cody Hanvey did come home with one state tournament win on his resume, earning 28 wins in his junior year.
Hanvey was pinned in the first period of the opener by eventual 132-pound runner-up Andrew Herley, a Neligh-Oakdale senior.
Hanvey wrestled back with a first-period pin over Arcadia/Loup City’s Logan Gregory.
The Bulldog wrestler suffered his second loss, a 4-12 major decision, to senior Jared Shaw of North Central in the second round of consolations Friday morning.
The Plainview Pirates won the team Class D title, with Fremont Archbishop Bergan taking second.
The Pirates ended the tournament with two state champions, Eli Lanham at 106 and Nate Christensen at 126.
Will Gunning was runner-up at 145, after winning what was called “the match of the tournament.” The freshman Pirate took a sudden-victory 7-5 overtime win over a previously undefeated senior, Brett Riggs of Maxwell. Riggs ended the tournament in third place.
The Pirates earned four additional medals, with seven of eight participants medaling. Collin Gale placed third; Scout Ashburn, fourth,Cameron Nelson, fifth, and Alizae Mejia, sixth.
Three of Neligh-Oakdale’s seven state tournament wrestlers earned medals, Cameron Wilkinson at 113 and Herley were runners-up and Brock Kester placed fifth at 113.
Herley wrestled in the finale of the tournament - against Tyler Poaloski of Pleasanton,who was looking for his fourth state title. Pawloski defeated Herley to become the state’s 32nd four-time champ.
Clearwater/Orchard’s Clay Thiele was runner-up at 195 and Donevan Nolze finished fifth at 220.
O’Neill St. Mary’s only state participant, Cole Rosenkrans, placed sixth.
Four of seven Elkhorn Valley wrestlers earned medals, including a silver by Joshua Mcfarland.
James Burks of Omaha Burke was crowned the 31st four-time champion. The Class A wrestler claimed the feat at 160 pounds on Saturday.