The North Platte St. Pat’s Irish defeated Hershey 42-24 and Sutherland 42-26 to take first place Thursday at the triangular in Hershey.

In the other dual, Hershey posted a 42-36 victory over Sutherland.

The Panthers were short handed due to illnesses and injury but managed to squeak out the win. The lack of numbers helped Sutherland and St. Pat’s short rosters be competitive.

Hershey coach Cale Streeter said the injuries make it tough for the Panthers to score team points.

We are down four starters now,” he said. “I thought last year we were plagued with injuries but this year is unbelievable. Blake Bruns tore up his shoulder. He may be gone for the year and Memphis Biere has a knee injury that sidelined him. And our 145 and 160 pound wrestlers are not healed yet.”

Despite the adversity, Streeter said he continues to motivate his team to preserve through the bad luck.

“I told them this week when we talked about it that we have a blank page in front of us. Our story is not written yet,” Streeter said. “Nothing is set in stone, we got to keep fighting and write our story.”

Fans were treated to a youth program duel meet between each round of the tournament with 40 young grapplers taking to the mat for an opportunity to show off their skills during a high school meet.

Hershey’s assistant coach, Dustin Elliott, also coaches the youth wrestling program and it was his idea to have the youngsters participate at the triangular meet.

They get to see what dual meets are all about,” Elliott said. “The older kids understand the atmosphere and know about duels but the little kids don’t yet, but by doing this they will learn.”

And it keeps them interested in the sport.

“They are excited. There are a lot of people here cheering them on. There is one mat in the middle for them and they can be super stars. It is really cool for them,” he said.

Next, Sutherland will be at the Elm Creek Invitational on Friday, while both Hershey and St. Pat’s will wrestle on Saturday. Hershey will be at the Chase County Invitational while St. Pat’s will travel to the Sandhills-Thedford Invite.