Photo by Sarah Hoffman
The NSAA state wrestling tournament begins this week. Here are seven things to watch for as the postseason kicks off.
The state tournament will be hosted at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha. The first round of the state tournament begins on Thursday. The semifinals and consolation rounds will be wrestled on Friday with the championship matches on Saturday.
The conversation must start with the Millard South program. The Patriots have won two straight Class A championships and after last week’s district tournament, they’re the odds-on favorite to return home with a third. Millar South qualified all 14 wrestlers for the state tournament, with Blake Jackson (106), Creighton Baughman (126), Nathan Rodriguez (132), Zac Charity (138), Austin McDonald (145), Connor Olin (152), and Doug Weidner (182), winning individual district titles. Nathan Rodriguez (132) is a senior for the Patriots that will be looking forward to advancing to the finals for the second time. He was a state runner-up in 2014 in the 106-weight class.
Six in a row
No other squad in the state of Nebraska has experienced more success than Omaha Skutt Catholic. The Sky Hawks have won 18 team state titles, including 13 straight from 1998-2010. The Sky Hawks outmaneuvered the competition at the district tournament as they scored 240 points. Runner-up Wahoo/Cedar Bluffs finished with 149 ½ points. Winning individual district titles for Skutt Catholic were Caleb Lazure (106), Joseph Orsi (113), Korbin Meink (126), Stone Mendez (132), Billy Higgins (160), Curt Randall (170), and Trent Hixson at 285. They’ll be going for their sixth consecutive Class B crown.
Korbin Meink (126) will try to become the 27th four-time state champion in Nebraska and the fifth for the Sky Hawks. Other four-time state champions for Skutt Catholic include Kasey Kohl (1997-2000), Todd Meneely (1999-2002), Tyler Sackett (2005-2008), and current University of Iowa All-American Thomas Gillman (2009-2012).
Going for a fourth-straight title
Korbin Meink of Omaha Skutt Catholic will be aiming to become the fifth Sky hawk to win four straight titles Saturday evening. He is a four-time district 1 champion with a 147-10 career record. Christian Miller of Plainview has won two state titles in class D and one in class C. He owns an overall record of 148-2 and is considered one of the best wrestlers from the 2017 class coming out of Nebraska.
Colton Wolfe of Columbus is a senior and two-time state champion whose plan to join the illustrious four-time club was derailed in 2015 as he lost a 3-2 match to Cade Brownlee (Creighton Prep). He will enter the state tournament with a 54-0 record and is the clear-cut favorite to win his third state title.
Freshmen to watch
A handful of outstanding freshmen will enter the state tournament with high hopes of claiming an individual state championship. They include Omaha Metro Conference tournament runner-up Jakason Burks of Omaha Burke (106), Liberty Invitational champion Maxx Mayfield of Lincoln East (113), undefeated freshman Gage Krolikowski of Valentine (113), and one of the top upper weight wrestlers from Nebraska Ethan Gabriel of Ord (195).
Going for gold again
Twenty-seven athletes will return to CenturyLink Center trying to win another individual gold medal.
Class A: Joey Harrison of Omaha Burke (113), Jack Huffman of Millard West (120), Jayson Burkes of Omaha Burke (145), Darrell Coleman of Millard North (160), Braiden Ruffin of North Platte (170), and Colton Wolfe of Columbus (195).
Class B: Trevor Fauver oF Gretna (120), Tyler Cunningham of Gretna (126), Korbin Meink of Omaha Skutt Catholic (126), Andrew Nielsen of Plattsmouth (126), Mario Ybarra of Scottsbluff (132), Derek Robb of Sidney (152), and Trevor Nichelson of Ashland-Greenwood (182).
Class C: Max Hughes of Syracuse (132), Melvin Hernandez of David City (138), Zach Borer of North Bend Central (160), Bailey Thompson of O`Neill (195), and Jason Hahlbeck of O`Neill (220).
Class D: Dominique Rickard of Plainview (120), Tyler Pawloski of Pleasanton (126), Cameron Riggs of North Platte St. Patrick`s (132), Brody Lewis of Franklin (138), Christian Miller of Plainview (138), Jaydon Elge of Nebraska Christian (145), Devon Walker of Elm Creek (152), Drew Loberg of Randolph (160), and Tyler Gideon of Burwell (220).
Five state titles between the two
A matchup many fans are eager to watch could take place in Class D. The 138-weight class will feature two individuals with five titles combined. Christian Miller of Plainview will be aiming for his fourth state title, while Brody Lewis of Franklin will be chasing his third state title. Both grapplers are undefeated this season with a combined record of 81-0.