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Cerny, Fullner stay alive in Omaha

February 16, 2019

Two wrestlers remained alive for Columbus High after the morning session of Day 2 at the Nebraska State Wrestling Tournament in Des Moines.

Junior Clay Cerny, who has put together a 39-13 season at 113 pounds, bounced back from a loss in the quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon and advanced to the third round of consolations with a second-period pin.

Cade Fullner, a 152-pound senior who sat at 24-7 when he stayed alive for a medal, was a first-round loser who’s now won back-to-back matches and sits one victory away from the medal round.

Cerny was a fifth-place medalist at last year’s state tournament. Fullner is making his third trip to Omaha after going 0-2 as a sophomore and 1-2 a year ago.

Caine Stenger (106), Levi Bloomquist (126), Alex Korte (138) and Camdyn Iwan (145) were all defeated in either the first or second round of consolations and had their seasons come to a close.

Three of that group are underclassmen and will return next season. Iwan saw his time as a Discoverer come to a close in his final varsity match as a senior.

Despite going 2-4 in the early session, Columbus High still held a 4.5-point lead in the team race over Millard South – the same margin the Discoverers had over the Patriots when the first session ended Thursday afternoon.

“We got Clay and Cade through. They’re one match away from placing, so that could give us nine medalists. We’re definitely in the mix, but there’s still a lot of matches we have to win,” coach Adam Keiswetter said. “The semifinal round will be huge because us and Millard South have almost the same amount of wrestlers, and they’ve got a couple of guys out there still wrestling.”

The Patriots did the Discoverers a favor and only advanced one wrestler on after Fullner left the mat.

Alex Vacha, at 152, lost while Fullner was on the arena floor. Krew Tran at 170 won and advanced to the afternoon.

Millard South qualified a wrestler at every weight class, one more than Columbus, but now has nine left – the same as CHS.

Columbus though has seven semifinalists to six for Millard South.

“The thing is, we’ve just got to match them. If the individuals achieve their goals, the team thing kind of takes care of itself,” Keiswetter said. “It’s good to see a senior like Cade come out there and be scrapping until the end.

“Those third-period pins are huge. The bonus points are worth more than the actual match itself.”

Fullner started the tournament precariously on Thursday, leading 5-0 after one before a mistake on the bottom in the second and a pinfall loss.

He came back Thursday with a win over Jacob Sheldon of Grand Island behind an escape from bottom early in the second then a takedown that turned into a pin in the final minute of the third.

Fullner already owned a 9-6 and 4-2 in over Sheldon earlier this year.

His second match was scoreless until the third. Fullner was ridden out in the second, unable to escape, then capitalized on top in the third with near fall points. A takedown then two more back points came his way just before he stuck Kearney’s Colten Kowalek to the mat.

“He went in for a deep shot and I went for something kind of risky, and it ended up working,” Fullner said. “I got kind of lucky, but I’ll take it.”

He’ll face 33-16 Ethan Valencia of Millard West, a 10-4 loser in the quarterfinals then 10-1 winner in second round consolations, for entry into the medal round.

Finishing on the podium is, of course, a goal, but continuing to win with bonus points is his focus as well

“We came in here knowing we can win this tournament. That’s all we’re trying to do,” Fullner said. “We’re just trying to win this as a team.”

Cerny started Thursday with a quick 47-second pin before falling behind 12-5 to Kearney’s Hunter Nagatani 12-5 and suffering a pin in the third period. Nagatani has had Cerny’s number this year, putting up a perfect 4-0 mark against the Columbus junior.

Cerny bounced back in a second-period pin over Noor Salat of Omaha Bryan. He led 4-0 through the first two minutes thanks to a takedown and back points, It was 7-0 in the third when he put Salat on the mat.

Stenger went 1-1 on Thursday with a first-period pin then a 6-2 loss. He was defeated 9-2 by Papillion-La Vista’s Ben Kroeger on Friday morning.

Bloomquist went 0-2 at his first state tournament behind a technical fall and a second-period pin.

Korte stayed alive on Thursday with a 0-2 major decision then suffered his own major to Tyler Salpas of Grand Island.

Iwan was beaten 4-3 by Cameron Cunningham of Gretna after a pinfall loss Friday.

Down by that margin late in the third, he broke free from Cunningham with 20 seconds to go by a rather obvious distance but was not awarded an escape.

Columbus coaches argued first for locked hands since that’s how Cunningham re-engaged Iwan once he broke free, and also wanted the escape, but the referees indicated they did not see an escape.

“I want to end on the podium,” Fullner said. “I don’t want to end just in the consolations somewhere. I want to end on the podium.”

Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sports@columbustelegram.com