Riley Moses was a ways off from a state title hunt after his first year of high school wrestling for Fillmore Central.
The Husker football walk-on signee knew that and took some measures to make a jump.
He lost in the final qualification round, better known as the "heartbreak round," and didn’t make the state tournament as a freshman at 220 pounds.
“I realized I wasn’t putting in the time and effort I needed to,” Moses said. “I knew I needed to change my habits in the weight room and just my habits in general.”
The switch flipped. Moses gained much-needed muscle in the weight room and jumped up to wrestling heavyweight.
Three years later, Moses is in contention for a state championship he thought was a little “out there” a few years ago.
“After that first year, I was just worried about making the state tournament,” he said. “I hadn’t done that before, so that was the only thing on my mind. I was going to do everything in my power to accomplish that goal.”
Moses didn’t medal as a sophomore, but he did make the trip to state.
The goal then shifted to getting a medal.
He did just that, taking third as a junior.
“He sure has a lot of experience from all lenses with his high school wrestling career,” Fillmore Central coach Ryan Komenda said.
“I think that will help him this year a lot.”
Moses lost his second match of the 2018 state championships before winning four in a row to get third place.
It’s almost like rungs of a ladder for Moses.
Once he gets to one, he tries to move up to the next.
“It would be pretty easy to space off with my dream of playing at Nebraska coming up in a few months,” Moses said. “But that state title keeps me focused quite a bit. I really want to do it for my coaches, because I know I’ve come a long way since my freshman year.”
Moses’ journey to a spot in Greg Austin’s Class of 2019 offensive line really took off the summer after his junior year.
Moses attended the Friday Night Lights camp at Nebraska, where he got his first introduction to the Division I football scene.
“I remember trying to get to the front of every line so Coach Austin would see me,” Moses said.
“When we did pass blocking stuff, it was kind of my first time. We only ran the ball in our high school offense.”
Moses said the highlight of the camp came on a matchup with Garrett Nelson on the second day of camp.
The linemen were in shoulder pads and shorts on the "board," a one-on-one drill in which each player tries to push the other one off the back of his side of the board.
“We got one rep against each other and it was really physical,” Moses said. “I think that’s when Coach Austin really started talking to me.”
He wrestled at the Disney Duals in Orlando, Florida, with the Nebraska Hightide and soaked in the experience of wrestling on the national stage.
“There was some dude ranked No. 1 in the country; that was insane to see,” Moses said. “Being a multisport athlete, I am obviously dedicated to wrestling and wanted to get reps against the best guys in the country. It was just an amazing experience.”
After the trip to Florida, Moses spent the rest of the summer in the weight room.
Komenda said that time in the weight room is really paying dividends this season — Moses is 31-2 on the mat.
“I’m just excited to see what happens down in Omaha,” Komenda said. “Riley’s just a down-to-earth great kid.”