Fillmore Central aims to continue historic season at state championships
It’s been a history-making year for Fillmore Central Wrestling.
Sarah Turner is a big part of that history. The freshman is the first-ever Panthers girls wrestler to qualify for state championship and win a district championship.
Although Fillmore Central’s girls wrestling team is just in its first year, Turner has been around the sport for a while. In fact, she's carrying on a family tradition.
"Watching my brother growing up, and my dad and my uncle qualifying, my brother qualifying last year just really motivated me, I guess, to start the sport," Turner said.
That’s right. Her father Shad and uncle Josh both wrestled at Fillmore Central in the late '90s and early 2000s. Her older brother Jackson Turner currently wrestles for the school and is also going to state this year as a district champ.
Girls wrestling coach Jeff Wusk says it’s exciting to have someone going to state in year one and hopes the team builds off it in the future.
"We got a foundation started," he said. "So now I'm waiting for the girls next year already to continue with that and really see their growth from year one to year two."
Fillmore Central is sending seven boys to state. It’s an experienced group which includes three seniors, but they’ve had some firsts this season too.
The team captured their first-ever team Southern Nebraska Conference and District team championships. Defending state champion Alex Schademann hopes to keep that momentum rolling at state.
"It's almost hard to put into words of what it means to me to be a part of this team," Schademann said. "Before I got to high school, Fillmore Central wasn't really known for its wrestling program. To be able to build something with my classmates, to go out at state and maybe bring a team trophy would just be the icing on the cake."
Aiden Hinrichs is another senior making a return to state. He’s hoping to improve on his 5th place finish from last year, but also hopes they’ve set the standard for years to come.
"[I hope] just to have the future wrestling programs look back at my senior year and see all that we accomplished," Hinrichs said.
While at state it’ll be one-on-one in the mat. Senior Travis Meyer recognizes he wouldn’t be there, and the team wouldn’t have its accomplishments without one another.
"I want to thank my teammates that practiced with me, my practice partners, my coaches and family for supporting me through all this," Meyer said. "It's the last ride. Just trying to make it count."
Head coach Ryan Komenda says the three seniors have put in the work over their careers and while it’ll be a big challenge says he wants them all wrestling for gold Saturday.
"It'd be a great accomplishment if that were to happen," he said. "Alex [Schademann] is closing in on 200 wins, Aiden [Hinrichs] just got his 150th win and I think Travis [Meyer] is at 144. These guys are battle tested. They've won a lot of close matches in their careers."
Fillmore Central begins its journey at state Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m.