OMAHA — Just a few degrees short of a burning rage, Chance Fry flipped from almost flat on his back to score and eventually earn an 8-7 victory Friday in the state wrestling meet semifinals at CenturyLink Center Omaha.
He had just seen his friend, Lincoln Southeast teammate and wrestling practice partner Adam Kinnaman lose a close match in overtime at 126 pounds.
"Adam's loss, and with a broken hand, he still almost won and with a good hand he would have beaten that kid (Eron Haynes of Omaha Central) easily," said Fry, who will face top-ranked Nick James of Kearney in the 132-pound championship match Saturday afternoon.
Lincoln Southwest senior Connor Clanton reached the finals at 220 pounds with a 3-1 decision against Alexander Dukart of Millard West. Clanton, the No. 1 wrestler at his weight, will face Wyatt Olcutt of Columbus in Saturday's title match.
The Southeast sophomore Fry (48-4) battled Nathan Rodriguez of Millard South through the first period and eventually took a 4-2 lead. His flip and near-fall move gave him an 8-2 lead.
Rodriguez rallied and put Fry in a cradle hold, which almost always leads to a pin, but Fry flipped out of trouble. Rodriguez got the cradle in again at the end of the match, but it was ruled too late.
After referees talked, the near-capacity crowd of 11,533 seemed to scream in favor of both wrestlers.
"There was no problem; that last move was too late," Fry said.
He was right.
"This is the happiest moment I've had in my life," he said. "I was confident that they'd rule in my favor. My coach (Zach Schnell) said 'Don't worry.'"
Fry reached the semifinals a year ago.
"This is such a better feeling," Fry said. "I was aggressive early and burned up almost everything I had in the first two periods and was pretty gassed by the third period.
"But I kept myself in the beast mode with a couple of songs in my head — and, no, I can't remember which ones — but I stayed calm and got it together."
Clanton (46-1) didn't have the drama but he was just as happy to reach the finals.
"I just had to be patient, because he (Dukart) is a very defensive wrestler and tries to get you off-balance or trying to take a shot and gets you making a mistake," Clanton said. "I got one takedown in there without making a big mistake and I can thank my coaches, my teammates and everybody else for helping me get this far."
Lincoln Northeast heavyweight Mar'San Castenada almost reached the final, but lost in overtime to Joel Anstine of Bellevue East.
Castenada took a 3-1 lead with a reversal with 40 seconds left in the match, but moments later he screamed in pain as his knee was caught under Anstine with just 12 seconds remaining. Anstine tied the match with six seconds left and won with a quick takedown in overtime.