Warriors bring home the hardware
The third time was the charm for Schuyler wrestling.
The Warriors had made it to the state dual championships the last two years but Saturday was the first time they left with a trophy. Schuyler took down Lexington 43-30 in the opener, lost in the semifinals to eventual champions Blair 39-25 then settled for fourth with a 51-18 loss to Hastings in the third-place match.
In 2017, the Warriors went winless with losses to Omaha Skutt and Scottsbluff. A year ago, they had the same 1-2 record, but lost the opener to Blair, beat Plattsmouth to stay alive then fell to Wahoo and finished sixth.
Only the top four teams are awarded trophies.
Blair won the Class B championship over Sidney 47-26.
Schuyler came into the tournament as a five-seed and defeated four-seed Lexington 43-30 in the first round.
No. 3 (160) Caden Yrkoski set the tone in the first match against No.1 Riley Kopf.
“It feels pretty great,” Yrkoski said after the tournament. “We’ve been coming to state since I was a sophomore, and my class was the class that started it up. To finally come out of here with some hardware, that’s the real prize. It’s pretty crazy.”
After neither wrestler scored in the first period. Yrkoski scored an escape and a takedown in the second to take a 3-0 lead.
Kopf scored an escape in the third, but another Yrkoski takedown led to a third-period pinfall to give Schuyler a 6-0 lead.
“It was a pretty big moment,” Yrkoski said. “Just pinning a guy like that is hard to do. It’s a big thing. I’ve worked pretty hard for this for this. It’s pretty impressive and a good feeling.”
Yrkoski was ranked No. 3 at 160 pounds, according to NEwrestle.com, while Kopf was sitting at No. 1. Though that ranking hadn’t been updated since Kopf lost the Central Conference Tournament title match a week earlier, he was, in essence, at least the No. 2 wrestler at that weight class.
Going into the dual, head coach Jeremy Hlavac said he knew Yrkoski vs. Kopf was a key matchup.
“We thought that was a 50-50 match,” he said after the dual with Lexington. “Those were two great kids with very similar styles, very similar kids. As you saw on the mat, they were very similar in build, athleticism and we just had the edge today, and sometimes that’s what it takes. You just have to have that edge.”
At 170, No. 4 Michael Hernandez kept the momentum for the Warriors. He led 3-2 after the first period.
Lexington’s Efrin Aguirre choose bottom, leading to him being turned over and getting pinned.
Travis Marxsen of Schuyler secured the 8-4 victory over Aidan Stuart at 182.
At 195, Mario Encarnacion of Schuyler vs Cody Wolf of Lexington was as close as could be. Neither wrestler scored in the first. Wolf chose bottom to start the second but was unable to get the escape causing another scoreless period.
Encarnacion chose bottom, but Wolf elected to start at neutral giving Encarnacion an escape point.
Wolf never secured a takedown and Encarnacion won 1-0 to give Schuyler an 18-0 lead.
Schuyler’s No. 1 Jesus Maganda made quick work of James Hernandez pinning him in the first period at 220.
No. 3 Jade Wurth (285) and Ivan Lao (106) of Lexington both recorded pins which narrowed the lead to 24-12 for the Warriors.
John Gasper put the Warriors back on the winning track at 113 with his 5-2 victory.
Ean Bailey of Lexington won by pinfall at 120 to keep the Tigers in the dual.
Kenneth Castro kept the Warriors ahead by pinning Angel Vega at 126.
At 132, Jesus Carrasco had the opportunity to clinch the victory for Schuyler. All he had to do was defeat Anthony Rodriguez with a major decision or better.
Carrasco shot off to an early start securing a takedown 35 seconds into the match. He then scored on two 2-point near falls and a 3-point near fall to take a 9-0 lead in the first period before a reversal by Rodriguez closed the gap to 9-2.
Neither wrestler scored in the second period. Carrasco still needed one more point to clinch the dual and guarantee a trophy.
Carrasco chose to start the third period in neutral and cashed in with a takedown 29 seconds into the third. He followed that up with a 3-point near fall securing the 14-2 win. The victory guaranteed Schuyler a top-four placing in the tournament.
Miguel Roman pinned his opponent at 138 to add to the point total.
“Where we started the dual at, at 160, was huge for us,” Hlavac said. “We started right in our muscle. Senior Caden Yrkoski getting the pin over the No. 1-rated kid was huge, six points right off the first one.
“The kids really did a team effort right there, and our other kids really stepped up and got into position to do well and it made the difference in that dual.”
No. 1 Blair 39, No. 5 Schuyler 25: Schuyler lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Blair.
The Warriors ran out to an early 6-0 lead with wins from No. 4 Hernandez (170) and Marxsen (182).
No. 1 Maganda won by major decision after a Warrior loss at 195.
Blair then went on a four-match win streak to take a 27-10 lead.
Castro achieved a victory at 126 as did Roman at 138 and Miguel Carrasco at 145.
Carrasco was unable to get a major decision or better clinching the win for Blair.
No. 3 Yrkoski pinned his opponent.
No. 6 Hastings 51, No. 5 Schuyler 18: In the third-place match, Schuyler was only able to get four wins, but still came away with a trophy to put in the case.
Marxsen won 8-2 at 182, No. 1 Maganda won 8-1 at 220, Geovany Chacon pinned his opponent at 106 and Yrkoski received a forfeit.
Schuyler now prepares for districts. The Warriors compete in the B2 district at Grand Island Northwest where they look to be one of the toughest teams.
“It feels great,” Hlavac said after the tournament. “I told the boys right there when we got done. I said the best part is, is putting this in the trophy case, but we have another week of wrestling to get ready to go to the individual state tournament. That’s what you aim for in the end anyway.”
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for the Schuyler Sun. Reach him via email at SCHsports@lee.net