By Scott Bidroski
The 2020-21 season for the Gordon-Rushville wrestling team culminated this past weekend with a trip to the NSAA State Wrestling Championships held at the CHI Center in Omaha.
Five Mustang wrestlers qualified for the tournament, the most for the program since 2010.
Here is a recap of the action for the Mustang wrestlers.
Freshman Tucker Banister Banister took the mat in the 120 weight class. His first bout was against Lance Olberding from Fort Calhoun who was a returning state qualifier. Banister lost by fall in the 2nd period. Olberding went on to finish fourth overall.
Banister’s second match was against Zander Kavan from Aquinas. Banister battled hard throughout and rode his opponent out in the third period, winning 3-2.
The final match for Banister was a 9-0 loss to returning qualifier Simon Schindler from David City. Banister finishes his season 28-11 and scored 1 team point.
Sophomore Traiton Starr
Starr, who has been battling both illness and injury, drew Mitch Albrecht from Raymond Central. Albrecht is a four-time state qualifier and a state runner-up. Starr lost by fall in the second period. Albrecht went on to finish fourth.
Starr’s second bout was against Trevor Cooley from Arlington. Starr had Cooley on his back right before the first period ended but could not secure the fall. Cooley then got Starr in the second with the fall. Starr ends his sophomore season at 32-16 with the best yet to come for the sophomore.
Junior Tegan Snyder
Snyder drew Tre Daro from David City for his first match. Daro got Snyder in the second period and would go on to finish second overall. Snyder came out quick with the first takedown, but Daro recovered to secure the win.
The second bout for Snyder was against Hunter Bennett from Ponca. Down 1-0 entering the third, Snyder decided to go neutral to try to get the takedown and the win. Bennett was able to hold off Snyder’s attacks to pick up the win, 3-0. Snyder finished the season 26-15.
Junior Taylon Pascoe
Pascoe opened up with “Caden Egr of Yutan. Unfortunately, Egr held the edge from the beginning, winning 13-3.
Pascoe then squared off with Grant Nixon from Fort Calhoun. Pascoe was down 4-1 with 10 second remaining and pulled off the upset. Pascoe lat dropped Nixon for the takedown and the near fall, scoring 4 points to pick up the win, 5-4.
Pascoe’s third match was against Jesse Drahota. Drahota controlled from the first, besting Pascoe 16-0. Pascoe finishing his junior season at 27-17 and scoring 1 team point.
Sophomore Jace Freeseman
Freeseman had the most success for the Mustangs, going 3-3 in the tournament and picking up a sixth place medal.
Freeseman’s first match was against Hunter Gilmore from Arlington. Gilmore is a Chadron State recruit and it a four-time state medalist. Gilmore was able to pin Freeseman in the first period.
After the loss, Freeseman bounced back with his season on the line. He was able to best Trent Stauffer from Milford via decision, 3-1.
Next up was Aiden Hinrichs from Fillmore Central. Freeseman was on the attack from the beginning, winning by major decision, 10-1.
A familiar foe was next, Quenton Ackley from Ravenna. Freeseman was able to get ahead, 2-0, and then ride him out for the win by the same score. This guaranteed a medal for Freeseman.
A rematch with Gilmore was up next for Freeseman. But yet again, Gilmore got the best via fall in the first period.
Freeseman then wrestled Cal Janke from Archbishop Bergan in the fifth place match. Janke got Freeseman with the fall in the second period, putting him into the sixth place slot.
Freeseman finishes his sophomore campaign at 34-16 and scored 7 team points for the Mustangs.
“Losing his first match and being forced to win three straight, Freeseman dug deep to medal in this loaded weight class,” said Journal Star correspondent Blake Peterson. “This weight class returned 5 medalists from last year and for Freeseman to find the podium is really impressive. He will have two more years to add to his trophy collection,” added Peterson.
Head Coach Ward Wacker was impressed with Freeseman and his team’s performance all season.
“Even though Jace Freeseman was our lone medalist, his performance is a reflection of how much our team improved this year including our non-qualifiers,” said Wacker. “Losing the first round and coming through the consolation bracket with tough match after tough match to get to the medal round is remarkable.”
The Mustangs will look to reload for next season, only losing one senior to graduation. Needless to say, the future looks bright for the Mustangs.
“With all of our qualifiers returning, a strong group of non-qualifiers in the practice room, and some promising incoming prospects coming up from the middle school, the future looks very bright for our program,” said Wacker.
“The support we have received from our parents, communities, and student body has been invaluable in helping us move in a positive direction,” he added.
The Journal Star would like to thank Blake Peterson, Ward Wacker, and Krystal Freeseman for their dedication and willingness to help us cover the State Wrestling Tournament. Without their help, our coverage would not be near as complete.