The Nebraska City wrestling team made quick and easy work of the Elkhorn Mount Michael (EMM) Knights on senior night at the Pioneer gym on Thursday, Jan. 31, winning by the final count of 54-24.
Action began at 170 pounds, where the visiting Knights accepted a forfeit.
Pins in the next two matches had EMM ahead 18-0. But that lead wouldn’t last.
After Zach Benton accepted a forfeit at 220 pounds, Jaydin Aldana and Hayden Schalk  took wins by pin at 285 and 106 pounds to tie the score.
Reid Stracke accepted a forfeit at 113 and Nebraska City led the dual.
A hotly contested 8-6 victory by decision gave Nebraska City three more points as Jorge Loarca held off Cole McNally in the 120 pound match.
Loarca scored early and controlled a big part of the match, but McNally was down two with a chance for a takedown to tie and possibly force overtime. Loarca denied that chance to win the match.
Lee Hobbs, 126, and  Josh DeLunger, 132, won by pin.
A pin fall win by EMM at 138 provided the last points for the visiting team.
Chris Adams, 145, dominated on the way to a technical fall win.
Chance Sjulin won by major decision, 12-3 at 152.
And Jordan Moyer, 160, despite a collision of heads,  won easily.
The clash of heads came as Moyer was shooting in for a take down. The result was a pair of blood time stoppages.
Moyer showed no weakness due to that misfortune, however, and won by pin.
After the match, Nebraska City Coach Tyler Hodges said his team performed as expected in a dual the Pioneers believed they could win going into the night.
“We didn’t do anything spectacular. We just took care of business,” Coach Hodges said.
The big event is coming up next week for Nebraska City as the Pioneers travel on Friday to compete for positions at the individual state tournament during the district meet on Friday and Saturday at Platteview High School.
Nebraska City is coming off an Eastern Midlands Conference individual tournament performance that saw the Pioneers pick up two individual champion honors, two runner up designations and one third place finish.
A pair of wrestlers who missed EMC will be back for districts, those being Aldana and Mikah Ruiz.
In looking back at the regular season, Coach Hodges said the team progressed well.
Seniors who were out for the first time have shown good season-long development and are wrestling at a high level.
Younger wrestlers, like Schalk at 106, have adjusted to life on the high school mats.
“He is really learning how to be physical and wrestle at the high school level,” Hodges said.
The whole team is coming together just like any coach would want.
“Everybody seems to be getting healthy and down to weight,” Hodges said. “It seems like we are making a run here. It’s a good time to do it.”
District expectations sound familiar to those aquatinted with Nebraska City wrestling.
“As always, our goal is to win districts and make a good show at state,” said Hodges. “I think if we wrestle well, we’ll be right there in the mix.”