Two Clippers earn berths at state


He stayed in the fight and it placed him atop the medal stand. Grappling in the 157-pound title match at the Feb. 10 C-1 District meet in Hebron, it looked like Malcolm’s Bricen Wilkie would have to settle for second place. His extra effort in the final 20 seconds against Central City’s Bryce Kunz showed he had other thoughts.

Wilkie took an early lead with a first period takedown. A penalty point followed by an escape had it tied up. After trading points in the second period, the score was tied at 4-4 until Kunz appeared to take control on a two-point reversal with 24 seconds left in the match.

“Bricen kept working,” Malcolm coach Matt Coufal said. “He didn’t let Kunz just ride him out. He kept swimming and turning.”

Wilkie got out from under Kunz and got a pin with six seconds left in the match.

“He didn’t quit,” Coufal said. “If you give yourself a chance, good things can happen.”

Wilkie (40-4) punched his ticket to state earlier in the day with a second-period pin over Dayton Kremer of EMF.

This is the senior’s third time to qualify.

Wilkie will be joined at the state meet by Cody Barton. The sophomore is returning to Omaha after qualifying as a freshman. Barton’s ticket was punched in the 113-pound semifinal match in which he defeated Central City’s Dylan Lovejoy, 5-0. Then, Barton pinned Hunter Brunkhorst of Scotus Central Catholic in the first period of the gold medal match.

“We kind of got after Cody after last week,” Coufal said. “He got beat when he didn’t dictate the match. This week, we stressed that he needs to go out and control the match. The way he wrestled in the final is what we want to see in Omaha.”

Barton enters the state meet with a season record of 35-3.

“Both of them are in great position to wrestle into Friday night and compete for a medal,” Coufal said. “They need to have a good week of practice and be ready to go on Thursday morning.”

The Clippers scored 55 team points and placed 11th in the 16-team district.

“I’m really proud of all of our guys,” Coufal said. “We had entries in eight of the 14 weight classes. To come out and score 55 points shows that we had guys do good things.”

Wilkie and Barton will begin competition in the 9:30 a.m. session Thursday, Feb. 15, at the CHI Center in Omaha.

Wilkie (40-4) will wrestle Westyn Mendenhall of Chase County (29-13). Barton (35-3) will meet Bailey Thimmes of Falls City (30-17).