Editor's Note: “A Look at Times Gone By” is an in-depth look at weekly Times Gone By entries compiled since 2015. These articles will appear in each edition as local teams anticipate new seasons, whenever they should resume.
Not until 3:54 p.m. on Feb. 21, 1982, did Arlington High School have its first state wrestling champion.
Scott Bruce won the Class B 145-pound title that day, besting Mitchell's Jon Billingsley 13-2.
“What a nice way to end a very good season for the Arlington wrestling team,” coach Keith Fink told the Arlington Citizen at the time.
In total, 18 Eagles, Blair Bears and Fort Calhoun Pioneers reached the state tournament that winter. Three of the five AHS grapplers medaled, including Bruce.
Gene Chappelear — who earned a win — and Todd Bingham fell short of medals, but both Todd Schmidt and Mike Mather finished sixth on the podium for the Eagles. Schimdt battled through an elbow injury to do so, while Mather suffered a “slight concussion” in '82 before becoming the second Arlington state champion in 1983.
Bruce, though, stole the headlines with his 4-0 run through the 145-pound bracket. He bested Roger Cunningham of Fairbury 7-0, topped Alliance's Mike Gallaway 2-0 and beat Dean Tickle of Ogallala in the semis before his runaway win during the finals.
“I was nervous and had goosebumps all over before the match,” the champ told the Citizen. “I felt a lot of pressure beforehand and was greatly relieved when it was over.”
Bruce had struggled to make weight at 145 during the season, but delivered in the end.
“My first thought after the whistle blew to end the match was, 'I'm the first state champion,'” the 23-1 wrestler said.
Pioneers qualify 9
Fort Calhoun's first state champion — Steve Narmi — wouldn't win his 112-pound title until 1984, but he was also one of nine Pioneers to qualify for state in '82. FCHS won its district with 178.5 points, earning more qualifications than any other Washington County school.
Narmi and the Pioneers wound up 12th at state with Roger Rath, Elliott Ostler and Dave Marcheck medaling. Rath and Ostler took home fourth-place finishes, while Marcheck was sixth.
Eric Rath, Ted Kantor, Kurt Thomson, Harold Ostler and Jay Seefus also represented Calhoun on the state stage.
4 Bears make state
Blair High School would have to wait nearly 30 years after the 1982 state tournament to crown its first champ — Will Schany in 2011.
It did, however, send four wrestlers to the state championships. Three Class of '82 seniors — Willie Ryan, Bob Carroll and Tom Timperley — competed along with sophomore Gary Kult.
Ryan was the Bears' standout, finishing second at heavyweight in his first and only state appearance.