The Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star dual had an Aurora flavor to it Saturday at Grand Island Senior High.
Carter Pursley and Seth Wonch, who just completed their senior seasons for the Huskies, were on the Blue squad for Fairbury coach Derek Garfield, who was a former Aurora wrestler.
Pursley and Wonch made Garfield a proud Aurora alumnus as both provided wins to help the Blue come away with a 21-14 victory over the Red.
“I drafted both those kids to be on the team, just saying that I had to have the A-town boys on my team,” Garfield said. “As a former Huskie, it’s great to give back to that program that means so much to me. And I’ve known both of those kids ever since they were little and they are both great kids. They just had great matches today and it was a fun experience.”
Pursley earned a 5-2 win over David City’s Noah Styskal, while Wonch pinned Alma’s Tyson McCurdy in the third period.
Wonch said he’s glad he and Pursley went out and got wins for the Blue squad.
“Carter and I both had tough matches but I knew we would come through. It’s a pride thing, especially with Garfield being our coach,” Wonch said. “He just told me to go out there and get the pin and that’s what I wanted to do. He’s a tough guy but I managed to come through.”
But the dual came down to bonus points. The Blue had three pins and three major decisions for the decisive victory. Thayer Central’s Damien Stewart, Battle Creek’s Damien Kersten and Sutton’s Lee Carlson all posted major decision victories, while Thayer Central’s Keegan Casey and North Bend’s Zach Borer also recorded pins with Wonch.
What also helped was the Blue winning five of the first seven matches. Garfield, who had a Fairbury athlete in the dual in Ace York, said that was key.
“We had a good start right away which forced them to play catchup for the rest of the dual. They won some big matchups later on which we expected. We knew the dual was going to come down to bonus points and like in any dual, that is always big,” Garfield said.
Red coach Brian Sybrandts of Northwest said the bonus points and the quick start made it difficult.
“Those flurries were big and we thought we had some good matchups but you never what’s going to happen when you have two great kids matching up with each other,” Sybrandts said. “That’s the way it goes in duals when there are good wrestlers.”
The dual also had a Broken Bow feel for the Red squad. The Indians trio of Spencer Gaffney, Cole Ulmer and Colton Duda were all victorious. Gaffney earned a 4-2 win over Gothenburg’s Wyatt Holz, while Ulmer posted a 3-0 win over Alma’s Tyson McCurdy and Duda pinned Winnebago’s Prosper Gilpin.
Sybrandts said those three wrestlers had a great meet.
“They all fought well and they were great kids to get to know this week. Spencer came up to me after his match and said ‘I wouldn’t let you down coach,’” Sybrandts said. “They have a great program in Broken Bow and it was great to see those three kids come through.”
The dual featured four-time state champion Tyler Pawloski of Pleasanton. He scored a third-period takedown to grab a 2-1 win for the Blue in a victory over York’s Harrison Gocke.
The dual ended with Wahoo’s Jack Sutton, a two-time state champion, getting the victory for the Red during a 6-4 overtime win over David City Aquinas’ Joseph Reimers, a three-time champion. Sutton trailed 4-1 after the first period. The two wrestlers will be teammates at Nebraska-Kearney next season
“That was a great match to end the dual,” Sybrandts said. “Jack did a great job of battling back after falling behind the way he did. I see both kids doing great things at UNK.”
Northwest’s Grayson Fries competed for the Red in the meet but was pinned by Casey in the second period.