Eleven Swede wrestlers qualified for the district meet in Gering on Feb. 13 - two kept their season alive, advancing to the NSAA State Wrestling meet in Omaha. It will be a return trip for both.

Abe Mendez went 3-1 on his day and secured third place in the 138 pound bracket and Ethan Libich finished 2-2 in the 285-pound bracket and brought home a fourth place finish.

It is the second appearance at the state meet for both wrestlers and Coach Tim Negley said that may play in their favor.

“We are excited for Abe and Ethan and now that they are preparing for their second trip they should know what to expect,” Negley said. “It is always easier the second time because it is not quite so overwhelming and they can just focus on getting down to business.”

In years’ past, the tournament has been a four-day competition with all classes competing throughout all four days.

This year, the NSAA has decided to split the sessions with each class having two sessions over two days in order to decrease the number of spectators in the arena at once.

Class B wrestlers will compete on Friday, Feb. 19 with the first session beginning at 9 a.m. that will include the first round, quarterfinals and the first two consolation rounds. On Saturday, Feb. 20, the action will begin again for Class B wrestlers at 9 a.m. with the championship match televised at 7 p.m. on NET.

Negley said that Libich and Mendez have some work to do to be prepared for the meet.

“They have both drawn pretty tough opponents but we will do everything we can to prepare and be ready to battle,” he said.

Gothenburg’s trip to Gering was a strong outing for the wrestling team as a whole as many competitors wrestled through brackets and held strong in battle-back rounds but were unable to break into the top four to qualify for Omaha.

The meet had a lot of familiar faces on the other side of the mat for the Swedes, but Negley said that didn’t necessarily make the match any easier.

“It actually gets harder to wrestle someone that you have wrestled before, especially if it was a close match before,” he said. “That opponent knows what you like to do and will come up with a different game plan and we have to try to adjust for that.”

While the Swedes worked hard and competed well, nine seasons came to an end on Feb. 13, and Negley said that is one of the hardest parts of his job as the coach.

“It’s always really hard when someone gets that close and doesn’t make it,” Negley said. “At that point, it’s pretty much telling them ‘good season’ and we will just get better for next season. When a senior gets beat out it’s a little different. You just give them a big hug and thank them for the time and effort they have put in. It is tough not getting the seniors to qualify but if that is the worst thing in life that happens to them then they have a pretty blessed life.”

That, Negley said, is the key to his program.

“Wrestling always teaches how to handle real-life and how to adjust and cope with difficult situations,” he said.

NSAA Class B District 4 Results for Gothenburg

106 - Abel Flores (14-16)

Quarterfinal - Joey Canseco (SBF) 39-10 won by tech fall over Flores (GB) 14-16 (TF-1.5 4:08 (17-2))

Cons. Round 1 - Flores (GB) 14-16 received a bye () (Bye)

Cons. Semi - Chauncey Watson (BOW) 33-12 won by decision over Flores (GB) 14-16 (Dec 2-1)

113 - Ty Kreis (17-25)

Quarterfinal - Pedro Carizales (OG) 28-3 won by fall over Kreis (GB) 17-25 (Fall 0:32)

Cons. Round 1 - Bryson Bussinger (COZ) 21-19 won by fall over Kreis (GB) 17-25 (Fall 3:36)

126 - Sawyer Therrien (14-22)

Quarterfinal - Cyrus Wells (BOW) 33-6 won by fall over Therrien (GB) 14-22 (Fall 1:33)

Cons. Round 1 - Kooper Pohl (COZ) 11-26 won by fall over Therrien (GB) 14-22 (Fall 2:14)

132 - Austen Chestnutt (10-30)

Quarterfinal - Tyler Nagel (GER) 23-4 won by fall over Chestnutt (GB) 10-30 (Fall 1:20)

Cons. Round 1 - Jaxon Minnick (ALI) 30-12 won by fall over Chestnutt (GB) 10-30 (Fall 0:30)

138 - Abe Mendez (20-12) placed 3rd

Quarterfinal - Mendez (GB) 20-12 won by fall over Landen Johnson (LEX) 18-22 (Fall 4:47)

Semifinal - Trey Garey (BOW) 29-11 won by decision over Mendez (GB) 20-12 (Dec 9-4)

Cons. Semi - Mendez (GB) 20-12 won by fall over Merritt Skinner (OG) 29-22 (Fall 2:27)

3rd Place Match - Mendez (GB) 20-12 won by major decision over Jacob Janssen (HOL) 26-20 (MD 18-6)

145 - Ty Hotz (22-22)

Quarterfinal - Connor Wells (BOW) 39-10 won by fall over Hotz (GB) 22-22 (Fall 4:33)

Cons. Round 1 - Jaydan Janssen (HOL) 19-15 won by decision over Hotz (GB) 22-22 (Dec 13-12)

152 - Brandon Schriner (16-23)

Quarterfinal - Daniel Wellnitz (CHA) 31-10 won by fall over Schriner (GB) 16-23 (Fall 1:40)

Cons. Round 1 - Cade Kirwan (HOL) 14-25 won in sudden victory - 1 over Schriner (GB) 16-23 (SV-1 11-9)

160 - J. J. Smith (24-20)

Quarterfinal - Josiah Mobley (SBF) 31-16 won by fall over Smith (GB) 24-20 (Fall 5:20)

Cons. Round 1 - Smith (GB) 24-20 won by decision over Zackary Gaffney (BOW) 15-19 (Dec 7-0)

Cons. Semi - Rhett Cullers (CHA) 30-14 won by fall over Smith (GB) 24-20 (Fall 3:11)

182 -Jonah Shimmin (13-24)

Quarterfinal - Brady Robb (Sidney) 33-3 won by fall over Shimmin (GB) 13-24 (Fall 1:56)

Cons. Round 1 - Damian Smith (HOL) 27-16 won by fall over Shimmin (GB) 13-24 (Fall 3:11)

220 - Jacob Olson (20-14)

Quarterfinal - Iziah Blanco (GER) 25-17 won by decision over Olson (GB) 20-14 (Dec 7-5)

Cons. Round 1 - Olson (GB) 20-14 won by fall over Trenton Jenkins (SBF) 14-30 (Fall 0:53)

Cons. Semi - Colton Donason (OG) 31-10 won by fall over Olson (GB) 20-14 (Fall 3:20)

285 - Ethan Libich (25-19) placed 4th

Quarterfinal - Libich (GB) 25-19 won by decision over Jaden Cervantes (COZ) 20-15 (Dec 2-1)

Semifinal - Sawyer Bumgarner (BOW) 40-3 won by fall over LIbich (GB) 25-19 (Fall 0:27)

Cons. Semi - Libich (GB) 25-19 won by fall over Sebastian Dones (LEX) 12-28 (Fall 1:56)

3rd Place Match - Ryan Bickel (CHA) 31-5 won by fall over Libich (GB) 25-19 (Fall 0:31)

Contact Rebecca Steward at rebecca@gothenburgleader.com or call 308.537.9498