2019 Class A State Tournament Preview and Predictions

Team Race Preview and Prediction

To finish in the top 5 in Class A this year, teams will need to score 100+ points. The teams that have been ranked in the top 5 all year should not change, and Papillion- La Vista looks like a safe bet to finish 6th. The top 5 projected teams all have multiple wrestlers who should rack up bonus points, so they could cancel each other out. Expect an emotional weekend, especially with so many teams in the hunt for the title. Millard West, Omaha Central, and Omaha Bryan have some firepower and could finish in the top 10.

Can Millard South’s freshmen (Taylor at 132 and Antoniak at 138) make the finals? Both have excelled in pressure packed environments during their youth careers, so they have the proven ability block out the noise and rise to the occasion. The Patriot veterans will do their thing, so if these two freshmen stay the course, it will be trouble for the rest of the field.

Omaha Burke’s three horsemen (Burks, Burks, and Miller) will rack up bonus points, but will the Bulldogs get enough support from the rest of the pack? They have a handful of wrestlers who can help the Bulldogs surge with breakout performances.

The Columbus upper weights look to be in good spots to gather considerable advancement points, but is 8 placers and 4 finalists enough to put them in title contention?

Kearney (Moomey and James) and Lincoln East (Mayfield and Fry) each have 2 good bets to grab mounds of of bonus points, but will the rest of their teams provide the backing so they can push for the title?

Projected Top 10 Teams

  1. Millard South
  2. Omaha Burke
  3. Columbus
  4. Lincoln East
  5. Kearney
  6. Papillion- La Vista
  7. Bellevue East
  8. Grand Island
  9. Norfolk
  10. Papio South

Individual Preview and Predictions

106

Top Half: The #2, #4, #5 and #6 ranked wrestlers litter this half of the bracket. They are all elite wrestlers, so you won’t want to miss the quarterfinals or semifinal on this side. Although Heelan pinned Coyle in mid-December, Coyle recently edged #1 Gabe Grice in the district finals and peaked at this tournament last year. Pedro and Rubino should meet in the quarterfinals, and whoever loses will have to go through Coyle or Heelan to medal.

Bottom Half: #3 Baustert and #1 Grice haven’t met this season, and should collide in the semifinals. Fuchs and Stenger should have a good battle first round to get a shot at Grice in the quarterfinals and give themselves a juicy opportunity to medal.

Projected Top 6

  1. Gabe Grice, Bellevue East
  2. Caleb Coyle, Millard South
  3. Brandon Baustert, Lincoln East
  4. Juan Pedro Jr, Grand Island
  5. Archer Heelan, Kearney
  6. Caine Stenger, Columbus

Dark Horse Medalist: Nate Rubino, Omaha Burke

113

Top Half: #3 Cushing will likely face Salat in the quarters, while #1 Grice should meet #6 Donald in his quarterfinal match. Cushing has beaten #5 Nagatani 4 out of the 5 times they’ve met this season, and hasn’t lost to another Class A wrestler. The undefeated Grice has earned bonus points in all but 2 of his wins this season, and hasn’t faced Cushing yet. Expect an exciting semifinal match between Cushing and Grice.

Bottom Half: The quarterfinals in this half of the bracket should feature 3 currently ranked wrestlers, and 1 previously ranked wrestler. #2 Haynes and #4 Jackson should meet in the most exciting quarterfinal in this bracket. Haynes won a 6-3 match over Jackson in the consolation finals at this same weight, at last year’s state tournament. Haynes lost 1-0 to Grice in the Metro Finals, and has beaten all but 3 of his opponents by bonus points this season. Jackson has only lost to Grice this season and has scored bonus points in all but one of his wins.

Projected Top 6

  1. Garrett Grice, Bellevue East
  2. Eron Haynes, Omaha Central
  3. Blake Cushing, Grand Island
  4. Hunter Nagatani, Kearney
  5. Blake Jackson, Millard South
  6. Quentin Donald, Omaha Benson

Dark Horse Medalist: Clay Cerny, Columbus

120

Top Half: #2 Rizek has already pinned both Rudner (his likely quarterfinal opponent) and #6 Martinez (potential semifinal opponent), so his path to meeting #1 Burks in the state finals looks favorable. It’s hard to predict his semifinal opponent, as the 4 potential opponents haven’t met this season and are all very solid. The two winners of this quarterfinal put themselves in a great position to medal at this weight, as it is completely wide open after Burks and Rizek.

Bottom Half: #1 Burks should cruise to the finals and to his 2nd state title. He has earned bonus points in all of his matches against Class A wrestlers, including a 16-7 win over #2 Rizek. It will be a dogfight to see who gets a shot at him in the quarterfinal and semifinal.

Projected Top 6

  1. Jakason Burks, Omaha Burke
  2. Nathan Rizek, Lincoln East
  3. Tanner Kobza, Columbus
  4. Solomon Allerheiligen, Millard North
  5. Peyton Martinez, South Sioux City
  6. Wyatt May, Millard West

Dark Horse Medalist:Rylie Steele, Kearney

126

Top Half: #1 Knopick has beaten all the current ranked wrestlers at this weight in the last 2 years, except for #4 Carlson (who he hasn’t faced). Knopick and Carlson should clash for the most combustible quarterfinal match in Class A, as both are strong and dynamic wrestlers. If we look results from at a common opponent, Knopick beat Sturdivant (who the winner will likely face in the semis) 2-2 in UTB, while Carlson was able to beat Sturdivant in the district semis by a 2-1 score in regulation. Look for Ferguson to give Sturdivant a stiff test first round. Ferguson will likely have #6 DeRosier in the blood round match.

Bottom Half: #5 Russell should cruise to the semis, with his quarterfinal opponent likely being Dittmer. #3 Niemiec and #6 DeRosier have split matches this season, while Niemiec beat Russell 7-3 last season. This weight is all about style matchups, so Russell versus Niemiec in the semis will be exciting.

Projected Top 6

  1. Cody Niemiec, Papillion- La Vista
  2. Cody Carlson, Fremont
  3. Conor Knopick, Millard South
  4. Ladamien Sturdivant, Omaha Bryan
  5. Camden Russell, Millard West
  6. Daniel DeRosier, Bellevue East

Dark Horse Medalist: Gage Ferguson, Kearney

132

Top Half: There’s no reason to think that #1 Moomey won’t pin his way to the finals, but don’t be surprised if fellow senior #4 Kucera can keep it to a decision. Kucera will likely face district champ Nielsen in the quarters, while Moomey should face Hester. Nielsen will likely face Hester in the blood round. Kucera could face Taylor for 3rd and 4th place, and they have split 2 matches this season.

Bottom Half: Niemiec and Taylor are on a collision course for the semis, and Taylor has beaten Niemiec 9-4, 5-1, and 3-1 this season. Can the senior stay focused under the lights and make the fourth match his charm against the proven freshman? Or will Taylor continue to prove that he’s the biggest threat to Moomey?

Projected Top 6

  1. Phillip Moomey, Kearney
  2. Nolan Niemiec, Papillion- La Vista
  3. Carter Kucera, Columbus
  4. Antrell Taylor, Millard South
  5. Breckin Sperling, Lincoln East
  6. Jeromy Nielsen, Omaha Burke

Dark Horse Medalist: Caelan Hester, Bellevue East

138

Top Half: Miller earned the starting spot in Burke’s lineup after the Christmas break, and has made the most of it. He has positioned himself to make the semifinals against #1 Mayfield, as he has a very winnable quarterfinal match against Okereke or Molzahn. Okereke beat Molzahn 6-5 back in December, but the result could change hands on Thursday morning. Mayfield should cruise to the finals, as he has won by bonus points over every opponent in this bracket he has faced this season.

Bottom Half: Antoniak should make the semifinals, as he’s already beaten his likely quarterfinal opponent #3 McBride twice this season. Mort will have a tough quarterfinal match with Hubbard or Salpas. It will be interesting to see if the senior (Mort) can slow down the red-hot freshman (Antoniak).

Projected Top 6

  1. Maxx Mayfield, Lincoln East
  2. Tyler Antoniak, Millard South
  3. Gauge McBride, Kearney
  4. Peyton Meink, Millard North
  5. Preston Mort, Lincoln Northeast
  6. Blaine Miller, Omaha Burke

Dark Horse Medalist: Landon Roberts, Papillion- La Vista

145

Top Half: Nick James should cruise to the finals, as he’s already beaten his likely quarterfinal opponent Connor (Papio South) by 9-1 scores twice this season. In the other likely quarterfinal, Nielsen has beaten Smith by major decision and pin already this season. James won 11-2 over Nielsen at state duals, and will be looking to snare more bonus points for Kearney.

Bottom Half: Davis should cruise to the quarters, then face the winner of Cunningham/Htoo in the semis. May and Baughman should be the other quarterfinal match. Baughman won their first 2 meetings of the season, while May won their most recent battle. Both seniors have beaten Davis this season, and are both looking to end their high school careers as state finalists.

Projected Top 6

  1. Nick James, Kearney
  2. Creighton Baughman, Papillion- La Vista
  3. Levi May, Millard West
  4. Deon Davis, Omaha Central
  5. Trey Nielsen, Omaha Burke
  6. Caleb Connor, Papio South

Dark Horse Medalist: Blake Smith, Millard South

152

Top Half: Fry is seeking his 3rd straight state title. While he’s the clear cut favorite, he’ll likely have 2 dangerous opponents in the quarters (Davis) and semis (Stapleton or Licking). Stapleton will have to get through Fullner in the first round. Don’t be surprised if every match of every championship round in this half of the bracket ends by fall.

Bottom Half: Irizarry has already pinned Kowalek this season, and owns a 2-1 record over Price. Price did win their last meeting in the Metro semifinals, and has beaten Valencia twice this season. Valencia has some quality wins, and a few head scratching losses. Eisenbrown and Valencia should be an action packed first round matchup, as Eisenbrown pinned Valencia in 6:21 at Metros. Irizarry seems to thrive in close matches, so he may have the edge over Price in the semis.

Projected Top 6

  1. Chance Fry, Lincoln East
  2. Alex Irizarry, Papio South
  3. Deson Stapleton, Omaha Burke
  4. Cole Price, Papillion- La Vista
  5. Ethan Valencia, Millard West
  6. Colten Kowalek, Kearney

Dark Horse Medalist: Josh Licking, Norfolk

160

Top Half: Burks shouldn’t have much trouble advancing to his 4th straight state finals bout, but he’ll likely have Kirk in the semis, who is one of three Nebraska wrestlers who have kept Burks to decision wins this season. Kirk will likely have Johnston in the quarters, who he beat 5-3 at Metros.

Bottom Half: McMeekin has already beaten everyone in his path to the finals, but it won’t be easy for him. He has split two close matches with Abels this season, his win being 6-4, just 2 days after Abels beat him 4-3. McMeekin will also face a stiff test from Splater in the quarters. Should he make the finals, it would give Columbus a huge momentum boost heading into the heart of their lineup.

Projected Top 6

  1. James Burks, Omaha Burke
  2. Avery McMeekin, Columbus
  3. Liam Kirk, Elkhorn South
  4. Nolan Johnston, Omaha Westside
  5. Brayden Splater, Norfolk
  6. Carter Abels, Kearney

Dark Horse Medalist: Jack McDonnell, Bellevue West

170

Top Half: As highlighted in our “First Round Must Watch Matches”, Kelley/Dawson should be a battle. The winner will have a very winnable match in the quarters against Forsythe or Haberman. The winners of the mentioned matches give themselves an excellent road to a state medal. Whoever emerges from the top quarterfinal will have a tall order beating #2 Huss. Huss has only lost to #1 at 160 Burks and #2 at 170 Canoyer (Class B). Huss beat #3 Lyman 14-3 in the A4 district finals.

Bottom Half: #1 Alford has beaten #3 Lyman three times this season, and that’s who he’ll see in the quarters. #5 Standley and #4 Franzen should be a tough battle, as they haven’t met yet this season. The loser of this match will likely face Lyman in the blood round, while the other will be guaranteed a medal.

Projected Top 6

  1. Isaiah Alford, Lincoln High
  2. Cole Huss, Gretna
  3. Grant Lyman, Lincoln East
  4. Blayze Standley, Columbus
  5. Kale Dawson, Bellevue West
  6. Blake Forsythe, Norfolk

Dark Horse Medalist: Gus Franzen, Kearney

182

Top Half: #1 Trumble has earned bonus point wins against every opponent from Nebraska he has faced this season, including major decision and technical fall wins over #2 Zwingman. He has already pinned his quarterfinal opponent (#4 Relford or Vaughn), and will likely face the returning state runner-up (at this weight) #5 Muthersbaugh in the finals. Although they haven’t met this season and Muthersbaugh is undefeated, Trumble shouldn’t have much trouble making the state finals for the 2nd year in a row.

Bottom Half: #3 Linear boasts a stellar 37-0 season record, with pins in all but two matches. But because he has only wrestled #6 Richter (who he pinned in 1:55), his ability is relatively unknown. He and #2 Zwingman are on a collision course for the semifinals. Zwingman has earned bonus points in all but one of his wins this season, so expect these two to light up the scoreboard.

Projected Top 6

  1. Isaac Trumble, Millard South
  2. Carson Zwingman, Columbus
  3. Trajen Linear, Papio South
  4. AJ Muthersbaugh, Lincoln East
  5. Oscar Richter, Grand Island
  6. Carson Maas, Papillion- La Vista

Dark Horse Medalist: Cedric Relford, Elkhorn

195

Top Half: #1 Miller has earned bonus points in every one of his matches except one early season match against his likely semifinal opponent #2 Josh Trumble.  Looking at Miller’s dominance this season, he’s as much of a lock to win this weight as his teammates Jakason (120) and James (160) Burks are to win their brackets. #2 Trumble will likely have #6 Keolavone in the quarterfinals.

Bottom Half: #2 DeAnda will have some stiff tests on his way to repeat as a finalist at 195, but he’s capable. Sprieck and Hilding will scrap for a shot at DeAnda in the quarters, while Waller and #4 Huber should clash in the quarters for a battle with DeAnda in the semis. There’s so many different ways the consolation side of this bracket could go, with as many as 10 wrestlers with legitimate shots to earn the 4th, 5th, and 6th place medals.

Projected Top 6

  1. Dillyn Miller, Omaha Burke
  2. Anthony DeAnda, Columbus
  3. Isaac Trumble, Millard South
  4. TJ Huber, Gretna
  5. Easton Waller, Lincoln North Star
  6. Daylone Keolavone, Grand Island

Dark Horse Medalist: Anthony Stege, Lincoln Northeast

220

Top Half: #5 Quezada actually lost to Vasquez in mid-January, so he’ll have his hands full right off the bat. #1 Grape could have a tougher test in the quarterfinals than he could in the semifinals. Karmazin has spent most of the season at 182, so it will be interesting to see how he handles bigger opponents like #6 Escamilla. Karmazin could bolster Lincoln East’s chances to repeat as team champions with a great performance.

Bottom Half: The rubber match between #4 Walker and #2 Pray should be worth the price of admission in the top quarterfinal, as they have split matches this season. #3 Peitzmeier shouldn’t have any trouble making it to the semis, where he’d be favored against Walker, as he beat him this season. Pray would be favored over Peitzmeier though, as Pray beat him 6-5 at the Council Bluffs Classic at 5-1 at Metro Duals.

Projected Top 6

  1. Kasten Grape, Columbus
  2. Tony Pray, Creighton Prep
  3. Gavin Peitzmeier, Millard South
  4. Jaylon Walker, Omaha Bryan
  5. Luis Quezada, South Sioux City
  6. Trevin Escamilla, Fremont

Dark Horse Medalist: Chris Karmazin, Lincoln East

285

Top Half: It would be a big surprise if #1 Cowling gets beat before the finals, but his path isn’t an easy one. He’ll start with previously ranked Ngeleka, whose losses are nearly all to ranked opponents. Cowling should face Samuel in the quarters, and Samuel has been just outside the rankings all season. #2 Hasz should plow his way to the semifinals against Cowling where things could get heated.

Bottom Half: #3 Haberman owns two wins over his expected quarterfinal opponent #5 Stapleton. #4 McPhillips and #6 Frezell haven’t met this season, and should clash in the top quarterfinal. Frezell did pin Haberman at Metro Duals, while McPhillips and Haberman haven’t faced each other this season.

Projected Top 6

  1. Conner Cowling, Norfolk
  2. Cade Haberman, Omaha Westside
  3. Jack Hasz, Creighton Prep
  4. Ethan McPhillips, Grand Island
  5. Jacob Frezell, Omaha Central
  6. Tavion Samuel, Omaha Bryan

Dark Horse Medalist: Deangelo Stapleton, Omaha Burke

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One thought on “2019 Class A State Tournament Preview and Predictions

  1. Pingback: 2019 Nebraska High School State Tournament HUB | NEwrestle.com

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