Wednesday, June 20, 2018
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Two state medalists

Ehlers third, Spiegel fourth in Class B

OMAHA—With emotions high and the stakes even higher, the Nebraska state wrestling meet is an energy-filled atmosphere of ups and downs.

Swede wrestling coach Tom Scott said for some high school wrestlers, it can be difficult to navigate through those emotions.

But all three Swedes who competed at state held their own through the tournament, fighting their way through the low moments and keeping a level head in the high ones.

“Both the ups and the downs can be difficult to deal with,” Scott said. “Our kids were well prepared and they stayed mentally tough throughout. I think they can honestly say they came away with no regrets because all three of them left everything they had on the mats.”

Senior Dane Ehlers earned the highest place for the Swedes by finishing third in the 285-pound weight class. It was his first state medal.

At 106 pounds, fellow senior Mitch Spiegel brought home the fourth-place medal, moving up from his fifth-place finish last year.

Senior Bryce Eggleston was the only Swede to come away without any hardware but in a loaded 138-pound weight class, fighting back through the consolation bracket to the quarter-finals was quite an accomplishment.

“I am really proud of all of them,” Scott said. “All three of them had their shining moments and to finish 10-5 at the state meet is outstanding.”

Dane Ehlers, 285

Scott said Ehlers, who entered the tournament with a 46-5 season record, wrestled outstanding in all four of his matches.

In his first round on Friday, Ehlers defeated Austin Dishman of Grand Island Northwest by a narrow 1-0 decision before continuing to ride the high by dominating Thomas Machal of Gretna in the championship quarter-finals with a 10-5 decision.

Ehlers battled hard against returning state champion Garret Johns of Aurora in the championship semi-finals Friday night.

The two heavyweights met earlier this season with Johns delivering Ehlers’ only defeat by pin this year.

“Dane almost got a takedown off a snap in the first period but Johns is good on his feet,” Scott said.

In the second period, Ehlers started in the down position and Johns was able to ride out the two minutes without giving up a score.

Johns then started the third period down and after about 30 seconds managed to get away for the escape.

“It was a tough loss to come back from,” Scott said. “If he could have upset that kid, he would have been wrestling in the championship.”

As it was, Ehlers moved to the consolation bracket where he pinned his way through Andrew Aratani of Scottsbluff and John Stajner of Norris to finish with the bronze medal.

“He came back great and was able to get on the medal stand with a smile,” Scott said. “It was a great way to end his high school career.”

Mitch Spiegel, 106

Spiegel didn’t get a good draw in the 106-pound bracket, according to Scott.

After defeating Mason Wright of Elkhorn South in the opening round, Spiegel faced Clayton Cobb of Norris, a wrestler Scott said spent much of the season rated top of the class.

“Cobb got up on us early and took us out of our game plan,” the coach said. “Then we ended up having to force some things and it didn’t work out.”

That moved Speigel to the consolation bracket where he won a 10-1 major decision over Cruz Delacruz of Scottsbluff, won a 12-0 major decision over Devon Schmidt of Grand Island Northwest and defeated Collin Wiens of Beatrice with an 8-4 decision.

“Mitch beat the tar out of them,” Scott said. “He just really laid it on.”

Then in the consolation finals for third and fourth place, Spiegel faced Brian Messersmith of Cozad for a second time in two weeks.

Messersmith defeated Spiegel in the district consolation finals and again in the state consolation finals to leave the Swede senior with fourth place.

“The 106 bracket was really tough this year,” Scott said. “All four kids from our district alone were in the hunt for a medal.”

Bryce Eggleston, 138

Eggleston was in another tough weight class at 138 pounds.

“Bryce’s situation was really weird,” Scott said. “Things actually got better for him after he lost that first round.”

Eggleston fell to Eric Knight of Central City by a 5-0 decision in his first match and then had to climb back through the consolation bracket.

He pinned TJ Steffes of Elkhorn in 3:47 and then won a decision over Kalen Kasik of Schuyler to move into the consolation quarter-finals.

Eggleston was down 1-0 to Kasik before me managed a reverse.

Scott said Eggleston put Kasik to his back in the last 30 seconds of the match to get the 5-1 win and move on to face Randy Fleissner of Elkhorn South.

Fleissner eliminated Eggleston on a 13-6 decision.

“What amazes me about Bryce is that he had six matches in the last two meets that if he would have lost would have ended his season,” the coach said. “He won five of those and beat four returning state qualifiers. That’s guts.”

Just as impressive, Scott said, is that Eggleston moved up from 132 pounds to 138 for the first time at the district meet.

In all, the state meet was a positive experience for the Swedes.

“I think they all came away from there feeling pretty good about what they accomplished,” Scott said.