MORRILL, Neb. — A Nebraska high school’s positive moment at the state wrestling tournament, held over the weekend at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, soured after a vehicle and trailer containing the Morrill team’s new wrestling mat were stolen.
At the beginning of the school year, Morrill High School Principal Tom Peacock said, the Morrill district ordered a new wrestling mat for its team. Wrestling coach Willie Schwartzkopf said the team got a deal on the mat — the cost was reduced to $9,000 — for the expensive piece of equipment if it was allowed it to be used at the state wrestling tournament.
“Part of the deal was they would use it at the state wrestling tournament, which was pretty cool,” Peacock said. “Once delivered to Omaha, we would pick it up, and we didn’t even get to bring it home. That is really aggravating and disappointing.”
Schwartzkopf said that the mat was used for almost the entire tournament and that Morrill wrestlers who qualified for state were excited to have wrestled on the mat before it was to be transported home. But on Sunday morning, he said, the wrestler’s family who had been hauling the mat for the team woke up to find that its 2004 Suburban and trailer had been stolen out of the hotel parking lot.
Schwartzkopf said, “It was not a good ending to a good weekend. Out of all the vehicles in the parking lot, they stole that one.”
By Tuesday morning, police had recovered the Suburban in a community about 147 miles from Omaha, Schwartzkopf said. He said he has also been told that police made two arrests. The family that owned the trailer has also been notified that a trailer matching the description of the trailer has been located in an Omaha area parking lot. It’s not yet known if the mat has been recovered, and if it is, what condition it may be in.
“We are hoping, with everyone’s fingers crossed, that the mat has been recovered, and the vehicle wasn’t too damaged,” Schwartzkopf said.
Peacock said the district is hoping the mat is recovered because if it is not, it could be another year before it is replaced .