Niles leads Doggers in Oshkosh

OSHKOSH, Neb. – Gaven Niles snagged fourth at 126 pounds Saturday at the Garden County Invitational in Oshkosh, leading the Doggers to a 15th-place finish.

“I was pleased with the effort our guys made this weekend,” coach Brandon Gifford said. “We do not have a lot of experience and that lack of experience shows on the mat.”

Niles started the day with a bye, before losing against North Platte’s Raymen Riley by a pin in the third period, dropping to the consolation bracket. In the lower bracket, Niles rattled off three-straight wins, pinning Carlos Martinez (Minatare) and Shea Webb (Morrill) in the first period. Niles went the distance in the consolation semi-finals against Brady Gracey (Mullen), winning by a 9-7 decision. In the third-place match, Niles was pinned in the second period by Kimball’s Trevor Ryschon.

“Gaven wrestled well,” Gifford said. “We were able to recognize and highlight some areas where he needs to improve in order for him to accomplish his goals at the end of the year.”

Zane Rising reached the consolation semi-finals at 145 pounds in Oshkosh. He started the day with a pin over Jace Wid (Perkins County) at the 4:24 mark, followed by a win over Garden County’s Colton Holthus via pin at the 3:46 mark. In the semi-finals, Rising was pinned by Southeast’s Chase Lovercheck in the second period. In the consolation semis, the Doggers lost in a rematch against Wid via ultimate tiebreaker.

Outside of Niles and Rising, the rest of the Doggers were unable to pick up a win. Eli Asa joined Niles at 126 pounds, falling via pin against Hemingford’s Carter Buchheit in the second period. He went the distance against Minatare’s Martinez, falling by a 6-4 decision.

Dustin Swartwood wrestled at 145 pounds along with Rising. Swartwood suffered a pin at the 5:45 mark against Banner County’s Deven Sullivan. He then lost by a 16-2 major decision against Jared Schultis (McPherson County).

At 132 pounds, Alex Pugsley lost both of his matches by pin, falling to Drake Yates (Garden County) and Lucas Honstein (Hemingford).

The Doggers racked up 19 points as a team to finish 15th. Bridgeport won the team title with 177 points, followed by Morrill, with 140 points, and Mullen, with 124.5 points.

“The guys keep battling and are continuing to get better,” Gifford said. “The more mat time we can give these guys the better we are going to get. They understand it is a process and are continuing to buy into that process, which is encouraging as a coach.”

The Doggers were originally scheduled to dual with Gering, Neb. JV last Thursday, but it was canceled due to low numbers for both squads. L-FL returns to the mat Friday to compete in the Newcastle Invitational.

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