FILE PHOTO: Wrestling

The Clash XIII National High School Duals is going to get a Grand Island wrestling feel to its tournament.

Both the Grand Island Senior High and Northwest wrestling teams will take part in the event this weekend in Rochester, Minnesota.

Both schools will be going against some of the top wrestling teams and individuals in the country.

NW coach Brian Sybrandts having the two Grand Island schools at that event speaks volumes about wrestling in the city.

“It says that our city is on the map in wrestling,” he said. “We have great wrestling around the city. Grand Island has a great team and they are having a great season. We have a good team. It talks about how strong wrestling is in Grand Island and our community really gets behind our programs.”

GISH coach Joey Morrison said echoed Sybrandts’ words about the city having two teams at the Clash.

“It’s not every day you have two schools from the same town going to that quality of a tournament,” Morrison said. “It’s an exciting event to be a part of.”

The Islanders will be making their fifth overall appearance at the Clash, but their first since 2015. The Islanders will be in Pool A and will open with Waukee, Iowa at 9 a.m. Friday. Waukee is ranked No. 7 in the Class 3A rankings in iawrestle.com. Waverly-Shell Rock, Iowa is also in their pool and they are ranked No. 2 in the same rankings, while Carl Sandberg, Ill. is ranked No. 5 in the 3A rankings on iwcoa.net.

“We’re excited to get out there and wrestle some of the best teams in the country has to offer,” Morrison said. “It gives us a chance to see some different styles and different opponents that we don’t normally see during the season.”

Grand Island, which is 8-1 in duals, is currently ranked No. 2 in the dual rankings by the Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association. The Islanders also have six individuals ranked. Ein Obermiller (No. 6, 106 pounds), Juan Pedro, Jr. (No. 5, 120), Blake Cushing (No. 3, 126), Brody Arrants (No. 6, 138), Daylon Keolavone (No. 6, 195) and Michael Isele (No. 6, 285) are those individuals.

Morrison said he likes how the Islanders are wrestling at this point of the season.

“We have a lot to build on and have a lot of things to improve on,” he said.

The Vikings are making their second straight appearance to the Clash.

They finished 2-4 during the two day event a year ago.

Sybrandts said the Vikings enjoyed their experience last year.

“It’s a big honor and these kids are looking forward to it,” Sybrandts said. “They were excited about being a part of it last year and a few kids were wondering if we were going to be invited back. They feel honored to be one of the 32 teams to be invited. You get see the best of the best there.”

Northwest will be in pool D and will open with Liberty Peoria, Ariz. at 4 p.m. Friday. Liberty Peoria is the defending D-1 state championship in Arizona and has 10 returning state medalists.

Also in the Vikings bracket includes Don Bosco, Iowa, which is the top seed and ranked No. 2 in the Class 1A rankings in iawrestle.com, and St. Michael-Albertville, who is No. 3 in Class AAA in the Guillotine High School rankings in Minnesota. Rapid City Central is ranked No. 2 in Class 3A in South Dakota in the argusleader.com.

The Vikings, who are 8-8 in duals this season, are currently ranked No. 5 in the NSWCA Class B rankings. They also have four ranked. Grady Arends (No. 3, 113), Collin Quandt (No. 2, 138), Owen Freisen (No. 6, 145) and Grady Griess (No. 1, 220). Griess is currently ranked No. 9 in the intermatwrestle.com rankings.

Sybrandts said the Vikings have been battling injuries and illnesses during the course of the season. But he felt the Clash was a good lesson for Northwest last year. After going 0-3 on the first day, the Vikings went 2-1 on the second day. They went on to win the school’s first state title a month later.

“We can control what we can control and play with the hand that we’ve been dealt,” Sybrandts said. “There’s times I felt we could have done better but not too bad. Most of the teams we’ve lost to are pretty solid. We’ve wrestled a lot of good teams. I hope our kids can grow from this experience. This was a turning point for us last year and I hope it is for us this year.”

Wrestling fans can follow the Clash Tournament on flowrestling.com.

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