The North Bend Eagle

 

State wrestling
Zach Borer scores the near-fall points that ended the Class C 170-pound championship with a 15-0 technical fall. Borer finishes his career with a 206-5 record.

Borer's second gold an ode to joy

by Nathan Arneal
Published 2/20/19

Zach Borer used one word to describe the final state wrestling tournament of his career.

Fun.

That may seem like an obvious reaction for someone who just won his second state championship to cap an undefeated season.

But that wasn’t always the case.

Borer’s journey to the top of the podium on Saturday began as soon as he could walk. As a youth wrestler he would often go to two wrestling tournaments per weekend and wrestle in two different age groups at each meet. When he was a freshman, scheduling rules were changed, allowing athletes to wrestle more matches than previously possible. It is not very farfetched to make an argument that Zach Borer has wrestled more matches than anyone else in Nebraska history.

In junior high, he went to the state tournament and saw some of those guys he beat while wrestling up an age division make the finals. He knew he belonged.
As a freshman he set a state record for wins and won a state championship at 160 pounds.

People started to talk about him as the next four-time state champion. Would he ever lose again?

Back as the overwhelming favorite at 160 as a sophomore, he entered the state meet undefeated but finished with a third-place medal and a torn ACL. The next year, he fell to fifth place.

The pressure of being Zach Borer was mounting. There were expectations. There was a target on his back. And it wasn’t always fun.

He described his junior season – when he finished 48-3 – as a “failure,” saying that he “choked” in the state tournament.

He knew he had only one more shot at it, and that fact only added to the pressure. As he began prepping for his senior season in November, nagging injuries lingered. Things came to a boiling point and one day coaches sent him home from practice.

“He had that expectation in his head of who he had to be,” NBC coach Ken Streff said. “We deal with teenage kids, and they put stuff in their minds and build up what they need to be all the time, and it adds pressure and stress. Once we got him out of that, it was fine, but it took him a couple years to get him refocused on what’s important about this.

“You can’t go though your senior year and not have fun.”

That’s what was missing. The fun.

Borer had talks with his parents, including his dad Mike, himself a former state champion who was now an assistant coach for the Tiger wrestling team.

He talked things over with his other coaches, his teammates and even former teammates who had graduated. He returned to practice with a new attitude, and by the North Bend Invite on Dec. 8, it was being noticed by others. Opposing coaches told Streff it had been a few years since they remembered seeing Borer smile at a wrestling tournament.

“I just didn’t put the pressure on myself,” Borer said. “This sport is about fun, and I finally realized that after four years. I just enjoyed it.”

The smiles and the wins began to add up.

Midway through the year he set a Class C career record for wins. A week later, the state record for career pins fell. He was not taken down a single time all year.

Borer won conference and district championships for the fourth time. For the fourth time he would enter the state meet as the favorite, this time at 170 pounds.

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