The year just keeps getting better for Northwest heavyweight Joey Gilbertson.
The Grizzlies senior advanced to Saturday’s 285-pound final with a hard-fought 3-2 semifinal victory Friday over archrival Eldon Picou of Manhattan, the top-ranked wrestler in the class.
But for Gilbertson, ranked third in the class, to cap his senior season with a state title, he’ll have to conquer second-ranked Benny Hernandez of Garden City. Hernandez defeated Southeast junior Luis Rodriquez 4-2 in his semifinal.
Gilbertson signed a football letter of intent with Kansas after a standout season in that sport.
The semifinal triumph broke a tie in matches against Picou, also a senior.
The key against Picou came in the first period, Gilbertson said.
“The first takedown in the first period, I got my slide-by and I took him down to the mat,” he said. “And that really changed the whole pace of the match. I got to slow down and wrestle more defensively rather than be on my offense.”
A state title would be a fitting end to a long journey for Gilbertson, who waited his turn for two years behind Jared Ross.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s a great time to be here .”
Three Colts make finals – Campus advanced three wrestlers to the finals and had 99.5 points after the first day, sitting fourth, 23 points behind co-leaders Manhattan and Olathe North.
Campus will have Boo Dryden at 120, Brycen Schroeder at 152 and Zach Bowen at 195.
Coach Jim Dryden, Boo’s uncle, said he was pleased by the Colts’ first-day effort.
“We have two other that just barely missed out, so as a team we’re very excited about where we stand,” he said. “Hopefully (today) we can climb up the leader board a little bit.”
Schroeder, a sophomore ranked No. 4, rode major decisions in the quarters and semifinals and will face top-ranked Jalin Harper of Manhattan in the final.
“His top position was probably the difference for him,” Dryden said. “We were able to turn (Blue Valley’s Alex Totta) and get some points early in the second period, which was a big difference in that match.”
Birthday boy – South junior Kasdon Arehart held on for a 5-4 decision over Campus senior Matthew Kimber and advanced to the 220-pound final. Should Arehart prevail, he will do so as a 17-year-old.
“It’s my birthday,” Arehart said. “So, I get to wrestle for a state title on my birthday, something special.”
Arehart was able to avenge a loss to Kimber last year at state.
“He beat me last year in the semifinals,” Arehart said. “It ruined my undefeated record. I just went out there and wrestled how I knew I could this time.”
“That was a big accomplishment for ‘Kaz,’ ” South coach Brian Westhoff said. “We’ve beaten (Kimber) once this year, and we believed in him (Arehart), and he did what he could do.”
South senior Dallas Wilson (37-6), ranked third at 120, upset top-ranked Jace Koelzer of Olathe South on a 3-2 decision – only Koelzer’s second loss of the season – to reach today’s final against Campus senior Boo Dryden (44-2), ranked No. 2 in the class. Dryden dominated Manhattan’s Joe Braun in an 11-1 major decision triumph.