Athletic events have never been decided on paper, and we’ve seen time and time again that the unthinkable occurs in the sport of wrestling. Rankings are nice for the fans and help draw attention to our sport. But when the rubber hits the road, we never know what’s in store.

This dual features five matches where both wrestlers have started the season ranked in the top 6 of their respective weight classes, six matches where only one wrestlers is ranked, and three matches where neither wrestler is ranked.

To add some context for this matchup between teams who will contend for the class A and B team titles, here is an “on paper” analysis of who is favored at which weight classes by considering past accolades and results.

Skutt favored at: 126, 152, 160, 170
Kearney favored at: 120, 132, 182
Swing matches: 106, 113, 138, 145, 195, 220, 285

Skutt Catholic enters this dual just having competed in the tough Gardner Edgerton Invitational in Kansas last weekend. “We are trying to focus on consistency. A big part of why we schedule competitions 3 days in a row, is to help them learn to manage their weight for that period of time. We want them to wrestle hard every match and build consistency,” said Skutt head coach Chas DeVetter.

Kearney will stay in the Omaha area and compete in the Council Bluffs Classic on Friday and Saturday, so they are heading into a 3-day storm. “Our guys are excited to wrestle on the road. They understand that we are facing tough competition as often as possible to maximize our development throughout the year,” said Kearney head coach Ty Swarm.

Competitors on both teams realize how close this dual is going to be. “We are bringing our toughest 14 guys and we are expecting a dog fight that will come down to bonus points,” said sophomore standout Phillip Moomey.

Skutt overcame the Kearney student cheering section known as the “Rowdies” and beat the Bearcats at home last year. “We are expecting a tough dual, especially since we came into Kearney and beat them last year. We know that they are going to want to return the favor. I feel like we are ready to battle tonight and if we wrestle like we know we can, we will come out on top,” said returning state finalist Billy Higgins.

If you’re not at the dual, you can watch it on via this link:

#6A Brayden Smith, Fr vs #6B Caleb Lazure, Fr

Both freshmen had solid opening weekends each winning tournaments and were active on different national teams prior to this season. Smith beat the #4 ranked wrestler at the Kearney High Invite and Lazure won a title at the 16-team Gardner Edgerton Invitational that included teams from Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma and Missouri. Both wrestlers are scrappy, hard nosed and hate to lose. The winner of this match will likely be the one who can hold position the best. If either wrestlers breaks position, that small window of opportunity to score could be the deciding factor.

113 Rylie Steele Kearney, Fr vs Joey Orsi, Fr

This should be a clash of styles as two freshmen look to prove themselves. Steele has impressed the Kearney coaches with his rate of development and is consistent in every position. Orsi uses his length very well and his ability to scramble makes him very hard to score on. Winning the scrambles could be the deciding factor in this match.

120 #2A Phillip Moomey, So vs Peyton Meink, Fr

Two more wrestlers who have been active on national teams prior to joining high school will battle here. Moomey had a successful spring and summer as he competed both nationally and internationally and earned All-American status at Fargo. Meink placed 3rd at last week’s Gardner Edgerton Invitational by winning 6-5 over a returning state placer from 6A Kansas. Peyton has impressive fundamentals for a freshman and has a similar style to his older brother. He is tough on top and holds positions well on his feet. Both wrestlers have solid positioning and score when they need to, so translating their handfighting to attacks could be the deciding factor.

126 Colten Kowalek, So vs #1B Korbin Meink, Sr

Meink’s basics are as solid as they come and he’s always looking to score. Kowalek rides legs on top and utilizes his long limbs in scrambles. Meink is heavily favored and Kowalek will need to utilize his range and ability to scramble to keep it close.

132 #1A Nick James, So vs Stone Mendez, Jr

James placed 3rd at 132 as a freshman in 2016 and starts the season ranked #1 in class A. Mendez is on the cusp of breaking through into the mix of the deep 132 weight in class B. This should be one of the most entertaining matches of the night as both wrestlers are fluent in all wrestling positions, and have big move potential thanks to their Freestyle and Greco training.

138 Tyson Cepel, So vs Cullen Hutchison, So

These sophomores both have the opportunity to not only bolster their team’s already solid lineups, but can swing the momentum in this dual. Both have wide open styles and coming out on top amidst the fireworks could be the deciding factor.

145 #6A Teontae Wilson, Jr vs Jack Hassenstab, So

Wilson is long and brings some slick techniques to the mat, while Hassenstab is very strong and wrestles very physical and straightforward style. The deciding factor could be whoever forces their style on their opponent.

152 Jud Kuchera, Jr vs #3B Alex Van Dyke, So

Both wrestlers are tall and strong for the weight class. Van Dyke wrestled at 160 last year to make Skutt’s lineup stronger and 152 is the perfect weight for him this year. Kuchera put in time over the offseason by wrestling 71 matches. Van Dyke is favored, but Kuchera can give himself a chance if he can hold position and neutralize Van Dyke’s offense.

160 #2A Trey Grube, Sr vs #1B Billy Higgins, Jr

Athleticism will be on full display in this match. Higgins is more technical and can lull opponents to sleep and put points on the board when they let down their guard. Grube wrestles at a slightly more consistent pace and loves to scrap. Higgins is favored, but Grube can make it a match by keeping the pace as high as possible.

170 #6A Reece Nicol, Sr vs #5B Curt Randall

Randall wrestles the way he ran the ball for Skutt’s state runner-up football team, he explodes and makes it a brawl. Nicol beat a returning state qualifier to make the Kearney lineup, was stuck behind Trevor Bigelow and Trey Grube the last 2 years and he’s solid in all positions. Nicol will need to weather the early storm and control Randall from the top position to keep himself in the match.

182 #2A Leo Palomo, Sr vs Eli Jansen, Fr

Palomo’s hips make it hard for opponents to score on him in the neutral position, but freshman Jansen handfights well and can move his opponent to open up his attacks. Palomo is a returning state placer and started the season ranked #2 in class A, so he is favored. Jansen is tough on top so getting a takedown would be key for him as he could ride Palomo.

195 #5A Sean Jackson, Jr vs #4B Danny Thompson, Sr

Jackson was a state qualifier at 220 while Thompson was a state qualifier at 182 last year. They both made big improvements in the offseason and are ranked in the top 5 of their respective classes. Both are athletic and should the dual start at 106, this could give their team a morale advantage heading into the two upper weights.

220 Izzy Bautista, Sr vs Ben Altman

Bautista was hampered by a broken foot last year, but did win an early season match over teammate Lee Herrington. Altman uses a football lineman style to wear on his opponents and added some attacks in the offseason. In this swing match, whoever can break their opponent’s position and get to a leg attack will likely be the victor.

285 #3A Lee Herrington, Jr vs #2B Trent Hixson, Sr

A heavyweight match can sometimes look like a slow game of checkers, but if the dual comes down to this match, it will be an active game of chess. Both wrestlers are tall, strong, athletic and have skills in all positions. Staying mobile and active will be the deciding factor in this match.

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