The Grand Island Senior High wrestling team wanted a good performance in its home gym for the final time this season.
The Class A No. 5-rated Islanders (NSWCA) got just that.
Grand Island dominated the A-2 district meet with seven champions to help it score 215 points, 33.5 more than runner-up Omaha Westside in front of the home fans Saturday.
In all, the Islanders will take all 13 wrestlers in their lineup to the state wrestling meet, which begins Wednesday at CHI Health Center Omaha.
“That’s what makes the district championship more fun, we qualified everybody,” GISH 126-pound district champion Blake Cushing said.
Juan Pedro, Jr. (No. 2 at 113), Ian Obermiller (120), Rogelio Ruiz (No. 6 at 132), Dane Arrants (138), Brody Arrants (No. 2 at 145) and Kolby Lukaseiwicz (No. 6 at 160) joined Cushing (No. 2 at 126) as district champions. Maddon Kontos (third, 106), Tyler Salpas (fourth, 152), Casey Reis (fourth, 170), De Andre Brock (fourth, 182), Daylon Keolavone (second, 220) and Michael Isele (third, 285) were the other Islanders to earn state berths.
Those results pleased Grand Island coach Joey Morrison.
“It was a great effort and everyone just believed in the process,” Morrison said. “We were just tenacious on the mat. Everyone just got out there and zeroed in on what they needed to do. We put in 13 entries and all 13 punched their ticket to Omaha and had seven district champions.”
Of all the district championships, the 120-pound weight class provided the most excitement for the Islanders. Unranked Ein Obermiller, who is a returning medalist, knocked off No. 5 and unbeaten Julio Reyes of Omaha Burke 8-6.
Obermiller trailed 6-3 in the second period before scoring a reversal to cut the deficit to one at the end of the frame. After scoring an escape to tie the match at 6-all, Obermiller scored the winning takedown with 23 seconds left to preserve the victory.
“Julio Reyes is a very talented wrestler with great quickness but Ein executed the game plan really well,” Morrison said. “He was down but he just believed that he could do it.”
One other championship match was decided in a decision as Pedro defeated Omaha Creighton Prep’s Presden Sanchez 9-3. The Islander champions also recorded two technical falls by Cushing (19-4 over Lincoln Southeast’s Caleb Durr) and Lukasiewicz (15-0 over Creighton Prep’s Dominic Fate).
They also had three pins by Ruiz (stuck Southeast’s Jose Hinz in 3:41), Dane Arrants (pinned Creighton Prep’s Andrew Guinan in 4:23) and Brody Arrants (pinned Westside’s Noah Aken in 4:58).
“Those guys just wrestled extremely well and wrestled physical for us,” Morrison said.
While Cushing, who captured the Class A 126-pound title last year, said Grand Island wanted to perform well at home, they still looked at it as another tournament.
“We didn’t really hype it up too much,” Cushing said. “We wanted to go out and wrestle because we’ve been wrestling good all year.”
Morrison said he hopes the Islanders can carry this momentum into the state tournament.
“It was a great day for us today, but this is part of the process. This isn’t the end and just part of the journey,” Morrison said. “How we prepare the kids the next three days will determine what happens in Omaha.”