One of the lasting images from the 2017 state wrestling tournament was Kyle Petree celebrating his state title at 160 pounds with double finger pistols.
Turns out, that was the plan all along for the Aquinas senior.
“I was jokingly planning it,” Petree said. “If I did get there, that’s what I was going to do.”
Now his plan is to repeat as state champion.
And if he does, Petree will have another celebration ready.
“I’ll think of something new if I get there,” he said.
It won’t be an easy road back to the top of the podium at Omaha's CenturyLink Center.
Petree and fellow 160-pounder Zach Borer of North Bend know each other quite well. Borer has only lost twice in his first two seasons of high school wrestling and won 60 matches as a freshman, which is tied for the all-class record. He beat Petree twice last season.
“We’ve always had a little bit of a rivalry,” Petree said.
The third time was the charm for the Aquinas wrestler last season. In the state semifinals, Petree dominated Borer, scoring a 16-2 major decision.
“I just needed to get my mind right,” Petree said. “I knew I could beat him. It was just practice, practice, practice. I worked to counter some of the things he did.”
Obviously, Petree has another state title on his mind, and it would be that much sweeter if he could beat Borer along the way.
“I’d like to have that competition again this year,” he said.
He also has his eye on the school record for pins in a season. The current mark is 30.
Petree, who posted 37 wins in each of the last two seasons, has 94 career victories, so he'll fly by the century mark in the first couple of weeks.
He spent as much time on the mat as he could this offseason, including going to a national dual meet in Texas with other Nebraska wrestlers.
“It was a good learning experience,” he said. “I got my butt kicked.”
But that pushes Petree to get better, to get on the mat as much as possible.
“To make sure my skills are there and correcting my flaws,” he said.
— Kollin Miller