The Amherst Broncos take wrestling very seriously.
They have 11 state team championships in the trophy case. They’ve had at least one wrestler on the mat in the state finals every year since 1994. They’ve won the Fort Kearny Conference 18 years in a row.
And now they’re ready to take over girls wrestling.
“The girls team looks very solid with the girls we have returning from a year ago,” coach Chase Klingelhoefer said.
The Broncos, who finished fourth in the girls state tournament with five wrestlers, including two state champions, all who are back and excited to compete in the first state tournament sanctioned by the Nebraska School Activities Association.
Reagen Gallaway, a junior 142-pounder, went 15-0 last season to claim a gold medal at the unsanctioned state meet for the second straight year. Senior Taleah Thomas, at 132, was 18-1 and also finished first.
Junior Taylor Roach (154) added a third-place medal while senior Micaela Bivaris (117) placed fifth. Senior Korah Ellis (124) placed fifth last year while wrestling for Lexington.
Amherst’s girls will compete in nine individual tournaments this year after competing in four last year.
The Amherst girls aren’t the only ones excited about the upcoming season.
The boys return four state qualifiers from last year’s team that was 16-10 in dual meets.
At the top of the list for the Broncos is senior 132-pounder Quentyn Frank, a state champion as a sophomore and a two-time runner-up.
Other returning state qualifiers are sophomore Caleb Bivaris (120/29-13), junior Ian Hughes (126/27-15) and junior Brody Bogard (182/33-15).
Other returning lettermen are sophomore Gavin Skrdla (106), sophomore Kale Taubenheim (113), junior Creyton Cumpston (138), junior Christian Wick (145), senior Jakob Graham (152), senior Josh Klingelhoefer (160) and junior Luke Palmer (171).
“We lost a strong, upper-weight-heavy senior class (but) return everyone from 106 to 182 with very talented backups in those weights,” coach Klingelhoefer said. “We will be looking to our sophomore and junior classes to fill in 195-285. The boys team had several kids that were one match away from qualifying to state out of the C4 District and that makes for an exciting 2021-2022 season.
“The boys team is very young this year with only four seniors in the lineup. We have strong momentum moving forward with finishing in the top 10 both years since we moved up to Class C.”
Two returning starters will lead the Amherst boys onto the basketball court this year.
Scout Simmons, a 6-2 junior guard, and Tayje Hadwiger, a 6-4 sophomore forward, will put the buck in the Broncos, who went 23-3 last year.
Hadwiger averaged eight points and six rebounds per game as a freshman, while Simmons scored 9.5 points per game.
“This year should be a fun year for my fourth year as head coach,” Eric Rippen said. “We lost some key seniors from last year’s team that will be tough to replace but we have some younger players who I believe will step up and really contribute.”
Other returning lettermen include 6-1 junior guard Nolan Eloe, 6-1 junior guard Reilly Fisher, 5-9 junior guard Keagan Killin, 6-4 sophomore forward Carter Riessland and 5-9 sophomore guard Austin Adelung.
“We will be young this year as we don’t have that many seniors but we should be able to play an up-tempo style and be a really fun team to watch,” Rippen said. “We made it to the sub-state game last year and lost a tough game in OT. I’m hoping that loss will fuel this bunch into making another run and hopefully we can make some noise and get the chance to play in Lincoln.”
The Amherst girls are poised to have one of their best seasons in recent years.
The Broncos return all but two players from last year’s 11-12 team.
Heading the list of returnees are 5-10 sophomore guard Hannah Herrick, who averaged 16.3 points per game; 5-8 senior Tenley Hadwiger, who averaged 7.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game; 5-4 sophomore guard Josee Tesmer, who scored 4.9 points per game, and 5-9 sophomore Morgan Ourada, who averaged 4.1 points per game.