Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Tom Southard
The Observer 

Bad Break For Bateman At State Wrestling


February 27, 2020

Laura Bateman / For The Observer

Kimball wrestler Connor Cluff proved he can win at the big show during the 2020 state wrestling tournament.

No medals for the four wrestlers who represented Kimball High at the 2020 Nebraska State Wrestling Tournament, but a lot of experience, and a lot of memories, some good and some bad, for the young men who made the trip.

For senior Stephen Bateman, it was a painful experience, and he will have a painful memory of the experience of wrestling in his first state tournament. Stephen wrestled Marcus Cave of Weeping Water in his first and only match at Omaha and was doing a good job against the wrestler who went on to win the Class D 285 pound championship before suffering a severe broken leg towards the end of the first period that ended not only the match at 1:40, but also his high school career.

This past Monday he was in Fort Collins, Colorado, to see if the break in his fibula will require surgery to repair it or if it can be cast. Coach Wade Brashear said, "It was a very unfortunate happening as Steve was wrestling well."

For junior Connor Cluff, the state experience gave him the opportunity to get a win in state competition. Wrestling at 126, Connor lost by pin in 1:09 to McLaughlin of Thayer Central, but came back in his next match to win 9-5 over Sam Tourney of Shelton advancing him into Friday action where he lost by fall in 1:46 to Miller of Elkhorn Valley. Good experience for Connor and he knows now he can win at the state level.

Kimball's other two state qualifiers earned the honor as freshman competitors and have the opportunity of becoming 4-time state qualifiers.

Matthew Johnson is simply outsized in every match he goes up against this year as he wrestles at the lightest weight of 106 but weighed in at 79 pounds. In his first match at state he lost by fall in the first period to Bohac of East Butler, and lost on Friday again by fall in the 1st period to Norton of Maxwell. The biggest hurdle facing the talented young Matt Johnson is putting on weight to match up with his opponents.

Trey Schindler is the other freshman who qualified for the honor of wrestling at the state tournament and according to Coach Brashear did a good job for a freshman at this level.

In his first match he lost by fall in 1:20 to Christensen of Plainview, but in his next match he went the distance before losing by decision 13-5 to Lambert of Southern Valley.

"For our two freshman, as well as for Connor, just getting to wrestle at the state tournament was a great experience and it will help them tremendously next year when they go back," said Brashear. "We will continue to build our program at Kimball and these three guys are going to be our leaders next season."

Congrats going out to all four Kimball wrestlers who represented themselves and their community, and sympathy going out to Stephen Bateman for the unfortunate injury he suffered.


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