Sam Kolterman made an awful first impression on Jack Sutton’s parents.
An impression made a decade before potential back-to-back state wrestling titles came into the picture for the Wahoo seniors.
It came before Kolterman, who wrestles at 195 pounds, set the Wahoo career win record, which now sits at 153 and counting.
Before Sutton, a state champion at 220 pounds and a heavyweight Nebraska-Kearney wrestling commit, broke his brother Paul’s career takedown record of 462 for the Warriors.
It was at Jack’s eighth birthday party, five years after he started wrestling.
“For some reason, I got this little Nerf crossbow and decided to put a candy cane in it,” Kolterman said. “It ended up hitting the glass door and the candy cane broke. We didn’t pick it up and the next morning the sun melted it into the carpet.”
The first time Kolterman spent the night at the Sutton home, Sutton’s dad, John, said, “That’s the last time he (Sam) comes over to our house.”
“This many years later and I pretty much have my own bedroom there,” Kolterman said.
Fast forward six years to the NSAA state wrestling tournament during Sutton and Kolterman’s freshman season, and the sleepovers hadn’t changed.
“They begged me to stay together at the hotel,” Wahoo coach Darold Foster said.
“We have this thing where if you screw up, you’ll never do it again.”
They’ve roomed together since.
The Morningside football commit Kolterman said there have been some skirmishes where Sutton and him almost lost their rooming rights, however.
One included a fire alarm, that Kolterman insists they had nothing to do with, at a national tournament in Independence, Missouri.
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Nevertheless, the two have stuck it out and built a lot of memories along the way despite hitting the hay at 8:30 p.m. during the state tournament.
“We just watched a few movies and went to bed last year the night before the state finals,” Sutton said.
This relaxing mindset off the mat is far from what it’s like on the mat for the duo, Foster said.
Sutton and Kolterman, each ranked No. 1 in his weight class, wrestle each other every day in practice and they both said the other was the toughest competition they have seen this year.
“He’s the most challenging guy I’ve seen this year,” Sutton said. “I’ve been wrestling with him so long it’s not even weird anymore. He’s always been tough. We’ve always been close to the same level.”
Their impressive careers on the mat haven’t came without road bumps, however.
Kolterman lost in the state finals his sophomore year before capturing the 195-pound title last season.
Sutton said those type of tough moments over their childhood and high school career together have been a catalyst for their closeness, but he wanted to make one thing straight.
“I mean either of us haven’t really lost in a long time,” Sutton said, “but when we lose, we don’t really take it to heart. We don’t talk about it.”
This level of competitiveness has carried over into the Warrior program.
Foster said the two seniors’ success has held some of the other Warriors to a high standard, as well, on and off the mat.
“They bring a level of camaraderie to the team,” Foster said. “I do exit interviews with all the kids and half of the kids said they’re most memorable moment of the season was simply ‘Jack and Sam.’ They’re just characters.”
That character has led the Warriors to soar in the Class B team wrestling ratings to No. 3 as of Dec. 27.
Wahoo beat No. 1 Omaha Skutt in a dual two days later, thanks to a first-period pin from Sutton and a forfeit win for Kolterman.
Foster said his team has high expectations for this season, but the Warriors are taking a mental approach to everything this season a little more than the past.
“There is definitely an attitude of gratitude more this year,” Foster said. “There also is an attitude of, ‘Our goals are in front of us, let’s get it done.’”