by Colin Pfeiffer (@CP308)
1. Amherst– The Broncos come into the state tournament looking for their 8th straight class D state title. They bring 9 wrestlers to the State Tournament who will all be contributors for them. I believe Amherst will put at least 5 guys in the semifinals and have the capability to put all 9. If they can put nine in the semis that would almost guarantee them an 8th straight championship.
2. Burwell– The Longhorns also bring 9 guys to the state tournament. They are the team that will push Amherst the most as they have three potential State Champions. I also believe they will put 5 guys in the semis but that’s probably the most they will get barring any major upsets. Burwell’s state tournament finish will depend a lot on what they get from guys like Tate Phillips (113), Coy Gideon (120), and Corey Dawe (160). If those guys all reach the medal podium they will put serious heat on Amherst.
3. Plainview– Going into the year, I though Plainview had the firepower to hang right there with Burwell and Amherst to make Class D a three team race. Over the year, they lost Nate Christensen (106) who would have been a qualifier and a possible medalist for them. They also took a hit in the district finals when #2 Trent Steinkraus was upset, pitting him against #1 Cameron Riggs in a potential quarterfinal. Plainview has the potential to medal five wrestlers or more, and could end up with 3 State Champions.
4. Elkhorn Valley– Elkhorn Valley shouldn’t have any troubles finishing in the top five in Class D as they have the potential to bring home 4 Medals. They should push 3 through to the semi finals with 2 having legitimate shots at being finalist.
5. High Plains– The storm isn’t rolling into Omaha with a lot of qualifiers, but the ones they do have should represent well for them. I think they will push 2 into the finals and have another wrestler finish in the top 3.
106- #1 Ryan Patrick Sutherland (30-0)
132- #1 Cameron Riggs NPSP (46-0)
138- #1 Christian Miller Plainview (42-0)
138- #2 Brody Lewis Franklin (39-0)
145- #1 Jaydon Elge Nebraska Christian (13-0)
152- #1 Devon Walker Elm Creek (16-0)
160- #1 Drew Loberg Randolph (28-0)
182- #1 Tori Huffman Buwell (34-0)
First Round Matches to Watch:
106- #6 Preston Acton Southern vs UR Breckin Ratkovec East Butler
106- #5 Koby Ellis Winside vs UR Kaiden Mrsny Pender
120- #4 Usama Erickson Superior vs UR Tayten Eggelston South Loup
132- #3 Jacob Johnson Archbishop Began vs UR Alex Schmit Randolph
132- UR- Rj Tutlam Hazen Med Valley vs #5 Juan Lasso Nebraska Christian
138- #3 Brett Riggs NPSP vs UR Paul Gubbels Osmand
138-UR Dylan Soule High Plains vs UR Brandon Bloomquist Randolph
145-UR Bryce Zimmerer Creighton vs #6 Riley Nichols Elm Creek
145- UR Spencer Wichman Palmer vs UR Trace Baasch Amherst
145-UR Josh McFarland Elkhorn Valley vs UR Dylan Davis Mack Med Valley
152- UR Colby Ensz Tri County vs UR Riley Racicky Pleasanton
160- UR Clay Konopasek Niobrara Verdigre vs #4 Preston Walker Elm Creek
160- UR Brady Wortman Creighton vs #6 Cole Egge Amherst
170- #5 Ryan Dawe Burwell vs UR Matt Pearson Cambridge
170- #6 Colton Cavaness West Holt vs UR Layne Hesse Pender
182- #6 Cody Downey Southwest vs UR Detric Kenning Thayer Central
195- UR Collin Gale Plainview vs #6 Jake Meyer Weeping Water
195 #5 Travis Likens Tri County vs Jaden Rahn GACC
220- #2 Robert Muench Sutherland vs #6 Robert Gardner Arapahoe
220- UR Denton Payne Hemingford vs UR Schuyler Brown Overton
285- UR Emillo Perez Perkins County vs #4 Cameron Nelson Plainview
285 #3 AJ Skaggs Axtell vs UR Noah Wadleigh Arapahoe
285 UR Dakota Ehart DCS vs UR Benton Fustafson Tri County
This weight is going to feature a great match right out of the gates. #6 Acton and Ratkovec wrestled to a 4-3 finish earlier this season and meet first round in Omaha. However, I think the loser of the match may wind up with a medal ,and the winner will come up one match short of the podium. The top half also features #1 Patrick, #5 Ellis and #3 Wilkinson. On the bottom half, #2 Russell and #4 Shields should be semifinalists. I think the Senior Patrick is the favorite to win the weight even though Russell beat him head to head at last year’s state duals.
Finals Prediction: Patrick over Russell
This weight is set up for a #1 Hazen vs #2 Nelson semifinal, while #3 Stewart and #4 Aguirre should be the other semifinal match. Hazen, Nelson and Stewart all come into the state tournament with only one loss at this weight. Although the semis will be great to watch, the most interesting match at this weight could be a consolation quarterfinal match Friday night were #5 Zak Olsen and #6 Tate Phillips project to wrestle to get in for a medal. The two wrestlers have each won multiple head to head matches. I think all four projected semi finalist are capable of winning this weight.
Finals Predictions: Hazen over Stewart
Again at this weight, we are set for #2 Rickard and #1 Martinez to wrestle Friday night. It is actually a rematch of last years 113 state finals match. Martinez beat Rickard earlier this season, but the two have been back and forth their entire careers. The bottom half semifinal should be interesting to see who wrestles in it, which means the quarterfinals should be electric. This weight could actually have a huge impact in the team race. If Gideon can get past #3 Araujo and reach the semifinals that would be huge for Burwell. The other quarterfinal will feature #5 Cumpston vs the winner of #4 Erickson and Eggelston, a match Erickson won earlier this year. Erikson also beat Cumpston this year. Cumpston has the ability to reach the state final at this weight, but he just needs to take it one match at a time and not get overly anxious. Another way this weight could impact the team race is a consolation quarterfinal match Friday night that could feature Cumpston and Gideon with the winner reaching the podium and possibly solidifying the team race.
Finals Prediction: Rickard over Araujo
Here we are again. We should be set for #1 Pawloski vs #2 Hazen Friday night a rematch of years 120 final. Much like 120 though, the bottom side will have great quarterfinals. #5 Mckibbin vs #6 Ostrom and #3 Guerrero vs UR Casey. Ostrom has been wrestling really well as of late, and I actually think he is going to win his quarterfinal. Guerrero and Casey wrestled earlier this season with Casey coming out on top 10-9. Guerrero can’t look past his first round match though, has he drew Dylan Swenson of Oakland Craig who is no slouch.
Finals Prediction: Pawloski over Guerrero
The first thing about this weight that jumps off the page, is that Darren Stewart who wrestle both 126 and 132 through out the year entered district at 132 and won his district. The next big thing at this weight is that #4 Herley upset Steinkraus in the District final. That set us up for #1 Riggs vs #2 Steinkraus in Thursday’s quarterfinals. With Stewart, #3 Johnson, #2 Steinkraus, and #1 Riggs all on the top side Herley has set himself up to reach the finals from the bottom side. Herley’s biggest challenge on the bottome side could be Jefferson Mcneil of Oakland Craig.
Finals Prediction: Riggs over Herley
This weight should feature a match up that most people have been waiting to see all year. Northern Illinois recruit Christian Miller comes in looking to win his 4th State Championship. His biggest opponent will be Fort Hays State signee Brody Lewis who comes in looking for his 3rd State Championship. There should be some other big matches in this weight though. Florell and Riggs meet in the quarterfinals, this could be a big match for Amherst as they really need to Florell to win this match to guarantee himself a medal. If Florell loses, he may have to go through #4 Spatz to reach the podium.
Finals Prediction Miller over Lewis
This will be the weight to watch all throughout the tournament in Class D. There are 11 wrestlers I really see being capable of medaling. #1 Elge has missed some time this year due to an injury, so there maybe question about his readiness coming into the tournament. #2 Aschoff has some huge wins this season over C138 #1 Hernandez and split matches the C145 #1 Moore this season. We have the potential for a couple some great first round matches and electric quarterfinals throughout. #5 Zimmerer and #6 Nichols, UR Baasch and UR Wichman, UR McFarland and UR Davis-Mack all meet first round Thursday morning. The quarters could be even better as we get #1 Elge vs the winner of Zimmerer/Nichols, the Baasch/Wichman winner vs Mcfarland vs Davis Mack winner, #3 Bohac vs #4 Judge, and UR Coons vs #2 Aschoff. All I really have to say about this weight, is sit back and enjoy, it’s gonna be fun.
Finals Prediction: Aschoff over Elge
If 145 wasn’t exciting enough for you, 152 should be. I think there are 8 wrestlers capable of medaling. That’s not even counting Baptista who was ranked 3rd and failed to qualify out of a tough district. I actually think the 8 wrestlers capable of medaling are all good enough to win it on the right day. Kulhanek hasn’t lost to a class D wrestler all year. Walker has been in and out of the lineup, but hasn’t been beat. Donscheski had a slow start but has come around as of late. Atekson has beat Racicky twice, and there is Aaron Allison who is every dangerous too.
Finals Prediction Walker over Kulhanek
At this weight, I think Loberg is in a class by himself. I don’t think there is anyone really capable of pushing him. Another weight where Amherst and Burwell have two wrestlers in Egge (Amherst) and Dawe (Burwell) that could help their cause for a state team title. Mlady, Loberg and Donscheski should be 3 of the 4 semifinalists here. Egge needs to get by Wortman and Monette to reach the semis, which he is capable of. Dawe draws Loberg as a quarterfinal match, which will be tough to overcome. However, I still think he is in position to medal.
Finals Prediction Loberg over Mlady
Here we are again with #1 Klingelhoefer and #2 Stevens in the Semifinals. Klingelhoefer beat Stevens earlier this season in overtime. Pearson and #5 Dawe should bring more excitement to the first round, as the winner of that match should win in the quarterfinals and guarantee himself a medal. #3 Reimers should be back to full strength and ready to go for the state tournament. He should reach the finals on the top half.
Finals Prediction: Klingelhoefer over Reimers
At this weight, #1 Huffman really hasn’t been tested all year. He beat #2 Stevens 5-0 in the district final which put them on opposite sides of the bracket and should be set up to be the state finals match. #1, #5, and #6 end up on the top half and #2 and #3, are on the bottom. Racicky and Stevens should be a great quarterfinal and Stevens and Smith should meet in the semis on the bottom half the bracket.
Finals Prediction: Huffman over Stevens
Much like 182 ,#2 Christancey and #1Bogard end up on opposite sides of the bracket because they wrestled in the district final. Christancey and Bogard have wrestled three times this year with Christancey winning 2 times in the final 2 weeks, but both matches were close. Bogard and #3 Atkeson should meeting in the semis on the top half with the bottom half being Christancey vs #4 Rezac even though he finished in fourth at his district. Gale and #6 Meyer should be a great first round match.
Finals Prediction: Bogard over Christancey
#1 Gideon and #2 Muench should be set for a rematch of last years state final. Gideon shouldn’t find much challenge on the topside, but twice UR Ambriz has pushed Muench. Ambriz is going to need to get by Vanengen in the quarter final if he wants a 3rd crack at Muench. Muench could also be challenged in his opening match against #6 Gardner.
Finals Prediction: Gideon over Muench
This has been the hardest weight to guess all year. There isn’t much solid depth here after #1 Hughes and #2 Skaggs. There could be numerous guys who have the potential to medal, as nobody really stands out. Hughes and Skaggs should meet in the finals at they were in the same district and ended up on opposite sides.
Finals Prediction: Hughes over Skaggs
10 Dark Horses to be Finalists
106: Isaiah Shields Amherst
106: Cam Wilkinson Neligh Oakdale
113: Salvador Aguirre Amherst
120: Breidyn Cumpston Amherst
126: Keegan Casey Thayer Central
126: Joel Ostrom Burwell
132: Jefferson McNeil Oakland Craig
145: Riley Nichols Elm Creek
152: Riley Racicky Pleasanton
152: Connor Donscheski Palmer