Five of West’s wrestlers compete for state titles this weekend

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Starting Thursday at 4:30, the Century Link center in Omaha will be filled with sweaty head gear, eager fans and nervous wrestlers who have traveled from all over the state. State wrestling determines the best of the best, and with only a small number of medals to compete for, wrestlers prepare to leave everything on the mat this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 20-22.

Bellevue West had five wrestlers qualify for state at districts which took place last Saturday. Amidst the competitors, West will bring three seniors to state this weekend: Rusty Barber, Jake Garner, and Colten McCauley.The other two non-senior competitors are Ryan Smales (sophomore) and Dillan DeRosier (junior).

State wrestling is a double elimination competition which means after two losses wrestlers will walk off the mat for the last time this season. Athletes who qualified for state had to place at districts. Senior Rusty Barber described districts this year as considerably easier than last year.

“I think we have a good chance for people to place this year. This year’s districts was not as bad as last year. My class was easier this year,” Barber said.

Considering this is Barber’s last year to wrestle the pressure and anxiety has been increasing daily. Preparing for state has been routine for Barber and he hopes to place at the end of this weekend’s competition.

“It’s my last year and I’m just trying to have fun. I had pretty high expectations. I wrestled pretty good last year and I’ve gotten better since then,” Barber said.

Accompanying the team to state is David Schumacher who has assisted in some of the wrestlers’ development this season. He considers Grand Island to be one of West’s toughest competition as a school, but individual classes vary.

“I would say since wrestling is an individual sport, there isn’t a way to judge difficulty. It all depends on weight classes. I think they always want them to do their best,” Schumacher said.

The newest addition to Bellevue West’s wrestling team is junior Dillan DeRosier who moved to Nebraska from Missouri last semester. DeRosier went to state and placed both freshmen and sophomore year at his old high school. His expectations for this year were very simple: get to state. After being asked if he thought that he would make it to state at the beginning of the season he replied with a confident yes.

“I’ve been practicing hard, eating right, and running every night,” DeRosier said.

DeRosier had to miss several matches because of a concussion that happened late in the season. But his confidence has carried through the season and he is both “excited and nervous” for state.

“I wish [DeRosier] could have stayed healthy and been able to wrestle his whole season,”Schumacher said.

Last year Bellevue West had several people qualify for state and Preston Lauterbach took the state title.

Assistant coach Wade McVey described this year’s team as “mentally focused.” As McVey will tell anyone, the expectations do not differ from year to year: “we always want to place, and we always want a state champ.”

“We only had two kids place last year considering one was a state champ,” McVey said.

Putting aside all of the pressure and previous matches, teams, and years, the same mindset stays consistent throughout the season.

“Medals. we want to bring home medals,” McVey said.

Regarding this year’s team compared to last year’s, McVey said, “I don’t know if we will have a state champ or not there is a possibility of it. Talent wise I think we are the same as last year, but I think we have a little bit more mental focus than last year which is always good.”

State wrestling matches and award ceremonies will be aired on Cox cable channel 12.

Viewers will be able to watch all of the action of the annual event, telecast from Omaha’s CenturyLink Center on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 3 p.m.

Bekah Hayes
Reporter