MAXWELL, Neb. (KNOP) - The Maxwell wrestling team will be competing in the State Dual Championships for the third straight year this Saturday at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds in Kearney.
The Wildcats will be the seven seed at the State Dual Championships, and face Neligh-Oakdale in the first round of the Class D bracket. (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)
“I’m feeling pretty confident coming into it,” said senior Jacob Gholson. “We've got a lot of good wrestlers, and they can make a lot happen. So I’m pretty excited for it, and it's going to be a lot of fun."
This will Gholson’s third time competing in the State Duals, who has also wrestled two times at the Individual State Championships.
"It's a bigger crowd than what we're used to, there are going to be a lot more people there. That brings a lot of pressure on people sometimes, but other than that, just go out there and wrestle your match. It's about all I can say," Gholson said about the scale of the event.
"We pride ourselves on being a pretty good dual team. We take this dual tournament very seriously, and we've got a lot of guys in the room that help us a lot in a lot of ways," said head coach Ryan Jones.
The Wildcats have 19 wrestlers to fill 14 slots Saturday, which allows Jones to strategize a little bit ahead of matches. One thing he may need to do is ask some guys to bump up a weight class. One wrestler who may be asked to do that is senior Derek Gibson, who usually wrestles at 160, but has wrestled at 170, and even 182, this season.
"We're fortunate; we've got kids that don't mind bumping up a weight class just to help the team. Really it's, an all-in team effort, and that's what we've been successful in duels the last few years," Jones said.
Gibson has just one loss on the season, and it came in the 182 weight class. For Gibson, hard work is what has allowed him to be successful.
"You get out what you put in. If you work hard, you're going to do well. Practice hard, practice the moves, just know what you're going to do and work hard," Gibson said.
The Wildcats’ first round match will be against Neligh-Oakdale. The team has spent the week working on their game-plan for the Warriors.
"A lot of people don't think there are scouting reports from wrestling, but there really are, and we've got all our information on them, and we've been working on that all week," Jones said.
"They’re aggressive on their feet, they go hard in the first 30 seconds, so we've been drilling going hard in the first period, and how to stop them," Gibson said.
At the beginning of the season, the Wildcats set four goals for the season. With an RPAC victory, and a trip to the State Duals, two goals have already been crossed off the list. Being able to reach those goals has the Wildcats confident in their abilities going into the final weeks of the season.
"You see yourself hitting those goals, you're like, ‘man I want to strive for the rest of those goals, and I want to accomplish the rest of those,’ so it makes you want to push yourself that much harder, to get that much better," Gholson said.
With only two more goals to complete for the season, the Wildcats can potentially cross another one off the list this weekend.
“We've got a couple more team goals left; to finish in the top four at State Duals, and winning a District championship," Jones said.
However, they need to get passed the Neligh-Oakdale first, and there are a few key matches between the Wildcats and Warriors that can be make or break for both teams.
"There are a lot of swing matches that can favor the team one way or the other. The thing with the dual, if it's close, those swing matches are going to do win you the dual or not. Any guy we put on the mat, we're going to have to win," Jones said.