Local fans tucked themselves into the stands of a darkened Dawg House in North Platte High School on Tuesday, catching a glimpse of the longest running wrestling exchange between states.
And the 34th annual Nebraska-Maine Friendship Wrestling Exchange didn’t disappoint.
From the friendly exchanges between some of the top local wrestlers and team Maine to the 21 wrestling matches that followed, fans remained loud, cheering for both sides in a friendly dual between states that dates back to 1985.
"The wrestling was secondary today," North Platte head coach Dale Hall said. "Hats off to Maine for having a great team, but hopefully they had an even better time with the families and wrestlers here in North Platte."
Team Maine, who had a 19-man roster featuring multiple state champions and medalists, went on to capture the dual by winning 17 of the 21 matches.
"They brought an all-star team and really put it to some of our best kids," Hall said. "They did a nice job of being more physical than us on our feet and an outstanding job up top, too."
After losing the first eight matches in the dual, Hall and the Nebraskan’s first win came from Class B’s 2019 state champion in the 126-pound division.
North Platte’s Darian Diaz went head-to-head against a three-time state medalist in Magnus Heisler of Portland, Maine, scoring a few takedowns early to eventually pull away for the 14-6 victory.
"Darian’s pretty solid and so physical on his feet," Hall said. "He’s tough to take down and tough to ride, so I was pretty pleased with his performance on the day."
Diaz would be the first Nebraskan to earn a win, but not the last.
Valentine’s Chase Olson followed with a 5-1 decision over Gage Stone of Dexter, Maine, and Lexington’s Riley Kopf, a Class B 160-pound state champion in 2019, scored another win for Nebraska after pinning Anthony Mazza just 43-seconds into the match.
St. Pat’s wrestler Talan McGill chipped in the fourth and final win for Nebraska with a 6-1 decision over Darin Buono of Mountain Valley, Maine, in the
"I thought Riley Kopf came in at 170 and did a really nice job," Hall said. "Other guys like Darian and Talan (McGill) wrestled down in Disney last week and were in a little better shape to match up well with the physicality of that style of wrestling, so it was nice to see those guys win."
North Platte was the second of four stops for team Maine across Nebraska, who visited and won at Cross County High School in Stromberg on Sunday. Their next stops include Arlington, Omaha Bryan and Platteview.