Tim and Aaron Nielsen should have coached against one another at wrestling districts. Instead the assistant coaches — Tim of Creighton and Aaron of Randolph — faced off on a more historic mat.
The father and son coached against one another during the Class D 170-pound state championship match as Noah Scott of Randolph defeated Bryce Zimmerer of Creighton. Aaron, an assistant at Randolph, claimed the win over his father, Tim, as assistant at Creighton.
“He’s a pretty calm guy. He taught me to be calm,” Aaron said about his father. “Just focus on the match. We’ve been coaching against each other since I was at Wayne, so we’ve been coaching against each other for eight years now.”
This season marked Tim’s 30th year coaching at Creighton. The Bulldogs are no strangers to the state tournament, and even Aaron made three trips to state wearing a Creighton singlet in his youth — placing fifth at 171 pounds as a junior and third at 189 as a senior, finishing with a 125-40 record.
The pair would have met on opposite sides of the mat during district finals between Scott and Zimmerer, but Aaron’s wife, Jill, was delivering their twins.
“They were born early Saturday morning, so I didn’t make it to districts at all,” Aaron said.
But a week to the day of becoming a father, Aaron sat across the mat from his father. It was no surprise to Tim.
“We figured it might work out this way, even coming from the same district,” he said. “It’s an added incentive between us, that’s for sure. There’s been some ribbing back and forth.”
It was an evenly-match championship with Scott edging Zimmerer for the title. Tim said both wrestlers were incredible athletes and it could have gone either way.
When Scott and Zimmerer faced each other in the state championship match, it was the sixth time they had met this season.
“Two years ago, when they were both sophomores, Noah went 0-6 against him. Then, they both tore their ACLs and neither of them wrestled last year,” Aaron said.“That was pretty good for him (Noah) to do that this year. To never beat him (Bryce) until the conference meet and then go 4-2 against him.”
There was no hard feelings between the two after the match. The three generations even celebrated the next day in the hospital.
“The very next day, we both went up to Yankton to see the kids and we each were holding one, talking about the finals match the next day. So that was pretty neat,” Aaron said.