The cheers of the fans bundled in winter clothes and blankets were loud when Brock Roblee pinned Carmelo Timblin. It continued when Xavier Albertson crushed Taydon Gorsuch two matches later by technical fall.
And when Vince Genatone trotted out of the last match of the night, everyone already knew what the outcome would be. Another pin and a statement victory on a historical night for both Nebraska and North Platte wrestling.
The North Platte wrestling team put on a show in Nebraska’s first-ever December outdoor wrestling dual as the Bulldogs defeated Gering 47-33 Friday in the Battle on the Bricks. North Platte picked up six victories by fall.
“I thought it went great as far as the whole town got involved,” North Platte coach Dale Hall said. “We had a ton of people out here. It was a really cool environment, and I think the kids really loved it.
“I think it got started this fall with football and the fall sports. It’s nice to see the backing from the community, and I’ll tell you what, I think kids feed off that.”
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Mats were set up on the corner of Dewey and Fifth streets, and the areas surrounding the intersection were blocked off by barricades and bleachers for fans to sit on. The dual featured the defending Class B state champion in Gering and the Class A runner-ups in North Platte.
“This is going to go in the history books,” Genatone said. “It’s just a crazy event, bringing the town together.”
North Platte and Gering started off by trading falls. Trysten Terry and Kole Weigel got the points for North Platte, while Ashton Dane and Isaiah Murillo pinned Brody Pitner and Cayden Hilding, respectively.
North Platte won the next two when Jace Kennel pinned Raul Ayala, and Ethan Jackson’s match was stopped due to an early injury.
Albert Stone got a quick victory for Gering over Lathen Huntsman, but Drue Huntsman responded by defeating Joseph Barraza in the next match. Gering won the next two divisions to tie the match at 30-30, but Roblee earned a fall at the start of the third period to put North Platte back in the lead.
Luke Rathjen, the No. 8-ranked Class A wrestler at 182 according to NEwrestle, fought Class B No. 1 Jacob Awiszus to a 9-7 decision loss, the only match not decided by fall, technical fall or injury.
Albertson’s technical fall over Gorsuch clinched the dual for North Platte, and Genatone, Class A No. 1 at 220, picked up his win over Collun Schwartzkopf in the second period.
“I thought Xavier Albertson really looked well,” Hall said. “He had some really good takedowns and was physical on top. I thought Luke Rathjen … he was going up against last year’s state runner up and lost a hard-fought match. Haedyn Brauer, tough match, ended up giving up the fall right at the end but was in that match. Up and down the lineup, I thought the kids wrestled hard.”
Hall said he still sees things the wrestlers need to work on, but he was happy with how the team performed in the season opener.
“We’ve got to get better on top. We’ve got to be able to set up our takedowns a little bit more,” he said. “But for the first time out, I loved what I saw. The kids were aggressive, we battled throughout the majority of the matches and I thought we put on a pretty darn good effort.”