Class C looks quite a bit different this year with the addition of 13 new teams, which is roughly 20% of the 64 teams. Class D State Runners-Up, the Archbishop Bergan Knights, along with 4th place Amherst Broncos will bring a lot of added depth in what could be considered one of the deepest years we’ve seen in Class C.
New teams to Class C for 2019-20: Amherst, Archbishop Bergan, Columbus Scotus, Conestoga, Raymond Central, Fort Calhoun, Hi-Line, Wisner-Pilger, Tri County, Ainsworth, Arcadia/Loup City, Quad County Northeast, Lutheran High Northeast
The Valentine Badgers once again enter the season as the favorite, and will look to capture their fourth consecutive team title. With four top-ranked wrestlers they’ll certainly have the big points for the individual state tournament. This season the Badgers will present a tough lineup top to bottom and should also be in the mix for a state duals title. They will have some young talented wrestlers in the lighter weights that could very well break into the state rankings and help separate the Badgers from the other contenders. Senior Gage Krolikowski will be gunning for his fourth state title and has a chance to set the state tournament record for pins as well. He’ll lead the pack at 138lbs. Chris Williams will continue his quest for four titles up two weights at 126. Returning medalists Chase Olson and Morgan McGinley enter the season as top rated wrestlers and will look to end their careers with state titles. Other ranked wrestlers include state medalists Tobin Olson (132) and Gunnar Battershaw (170).
David City was the last team to hoist the Class C championship trophy other than Valentine, winning the title in 2016. The Scouts enter the season with more wrestlers in the top eight than any other team in Class C. They have wrestlers in the top five from 170-285 and should be relatively strong in the lighter weights as well. The depth of the Scouts will be their ally and if they can qualify a big group to state they could give Valentine a great battle for the top spot. Should be a great dual between David City and Valentine if that were to happen at state duals. Keep an eye on sophomore Zach Bongers at 106 who could have a breakout year after coming up one match short of qualifying out of a tough district last season.
Aquinas has been a staple near the top of Class C. This season should be no different with seven ranked wrestlers to begin the year. They have nine wrestlers who have qualified for state in the last two years and were the state duals runner-up a season ago, so they will certainly have the depth. It will be tough to replace the state points from three-time champ Joseph Reimers, but if they can get 2018 qualifier Noah Scott or returning medalist Hunter Vandenberg into the 113 spot then they’ll add another medal contender to the lineup and inch closer to the top two teams.
Returning Class D Runner-up Archbishop Bergan makes the jump up to class C. They have some big-time returning state points including returning state champions Caden Arps (113) and Peyton Cone (220). Ethan Villwok should be in state title contention at either 182 or 195. Returning qualifier Eli Simonson is ranked at 285 and sophomores Cal Janke and Koa McIntyre should be medal contenders at 132 and 170lbs. It should be another great year for the Knights.
Broken Bow won the state duals title a year ago and finished runner-up to Valentine in the Class C team race. They graduated five of their state medalists from last season, which would normally be a lot to overcome for a smaller school. However, the Indians welcome back Patrick Powers who was ranked as high as #2 last year before suffering an injury at the district tournament. They also will have 2018 qualifier Trey Garey back in the lineup after being behind state medalist Gaffney last year. Powers along with junior teammates Casey Faulkenberry and Lathan Duda will give the Indians a trio of state title contenders. Returning qualifier Keifer Anderson will be a medal threat as a sophomore at 220lbs. The Indians also have a great replacement for graduated 285lb medalist Drew Drake in Sawyer Bumgarner, who owned a few high-profile wins last season as a JV wrestler. If they can push some others through the extremely tough C-4 district they could certainly move toward a top three finish.
Like a season ago, the Logan View Raiders will be one of the deepest teams in Class C this year. They have nine former state qualifiers in their lineup. After finishing third in the state duals a year ago they surely have their sights set on a state title. With eight wrestlers ranked in the top eight entering the year and several more in their lineup capable of contributing state tournament points they could also make a great run in Omaha. Logan View has the potential to move up several spots as the season progresses. Keep an eye on the Raiders!
Milford cracked the top ten last year with a 9th place finish in Omaha. They enter the season as the 7th ranked team. The Eagles have returning qualifiers from the five lightest weights including state finialist Jeaven Scdoris and third place finisher Konner Schluckebier. Vondra at 120 and Zegers at 126 enter the season in the top six. They’ll look for contributions from returning qualifier Chapman at 132 along with Chris Scdoris and Carter Springer in the middle weights to help them push for a top five finish.
One of the most storied Class D programs in history, the Amherst Broncos, will move up to Class C for the 2019-2020 season. The Broncos begin the year with three wrestlers in the top three; returning runner-up Quentyn Frank (126) and returning medalists Isaiah Shields (132) and Jarin Potts (195). They have plenty of additional firepower on deck with four additional returning qualifiers. Drew Bogard appears likely to drop to 182 after competing at 195 the past two seasons. The key for Amherst will be pushing as many through to state out of the brutal C-4 district.
Ord’s season last year was mired by injuries, losing two returning medalists for the season with injuries. If the Chanticleers can stay healthy this year, they should be in the mix for a top ten finish. They are led by top-ranked senior Ethan Gabriel at 195 and have two others in the top four in Garret Kluthe (160) and CJ Hoevet (285). 2x qualifier Kelen Meyer (170) is also a medal caliber wrestler. Senior Colton Rowse was a 2018 state medalist and should be in the mix for a medal at the loaded 138lb weight class. Keep an eye on freshmen Hayden Kluthe (120) and Ryan Gabriel (152). Both had a very successful middle school careers and can make an immediate impact.
Bridgeport qualified for the state duals last year, and return all three of their qualifiers from a year ago from a team that finished 16th in Omaha. Led by state champion Casey Benavides (113), they appear likely to improve upon that finish. Trevor Widener (138) has finished top four the past two seasons and Josh Warren (160) is returning qualifier. Sophomore Steven Menke (152) was the odd man out of a tough district last year but had several quality wins during the season. He should be a big factor this season. Much like Valentine, Broken Bow, Amherst and Ord, navigating the C-4 district will be key for the Bulldogs.
Additional teams to watch:
Raymond Central makes the bump up from Class B and looks to be an immediate top ten contender. Mitch Albrecht begins the year at the top of 120. Standout sophomores Logan Bryce (132) and Conner Kreiemeier (152) should have breakout season. John Karpov (160) was one match away from medaling at 138B last year. With this solid group and several other contributors in the lineup, the Mustangs have a ton of upside.
Syracuse appears to be building a solid team with returning medalists Burton Brandt (170) and Spencer Bridgmon (113/120) in addition to qualifiers Jace Goebel (113/120) Zach Burr (285). Freshman Barret Brandt at 106lbs will make an immediate impact for the Rockets.
Individual Weight Breakdown:
Trevin Edwards gets the nod for the top ranking being the better record of the two returning qualifiers from this weight last year. He finished the season with a 38-12 record and should be back at this weight as a junior. He will be pushed by a great group of freshmen that are very familiar with each other. Ely Olberding of Fort Calhoun, Barret Brandt from Syracuse, Riley Waddington of Wood River and Aaron Ohnoutka from Bishop Neumann all have some sort of head to head or common opponent over each other as 8th graders last year. Olberding had wins over Waddington and Ohnoutka and split with Brandt. Brandt split with Ohnoutka. Waddington and Ohnoutka split as well. Zach Bongers from David City could make a push for a state title and had a great freshman campaign last year just came up short of qualifying in a tough district. Aidan Trowbridge of Fillmore Central was effectively 106 last year and qualified at 113 and may make it down to 106 for his sophomore season. Returning 106 qualifier Nick Busse from St. Paul rounds out the top 8. Given that all the returning medalists from this weight have vacated, look for some others that haven’t been mentioned to make some noise as the season progresses. Early district look here shows that C1 has five in the top eight so it looks likely that one out of that group will jump up to 113.
While 106 has no returning medalists. 113 has six medalists from last season. Two returning champs, Benavides and Arps, begin the year in the top two spots. Rounding out the top three is Schluckebier of Milford who was undefeated until dropping a state semifinal matchup to Benavides last year at C106. Benavides has been at 106 for three consecutive years so it’s possible he’ll eventually go down, but the preseason information has him at 113. Hilmer defeated Bridgmon by fall for 5th place at C113 last season. Gage Musser lost in the heartbreak round at 120 last season and should be down to 113 this year. Dozler from Boone Central should be tough at this weight as will Dickau from new co-op Hi-Line (Elwood/Eustis-Farnam). Dickau was 6th at D106 a year ago. Something to monitor at 113 is if Aquinas can get either Noah Scott or Hunter Vandenberg down to 113. Either would make this weight even tougher than it already is. Dawson Hardesty of Conestoga and Trenton Arlt from Oakland-Craig are both 2x qualifiers and should play a factor here as well. Some freshmen to watch include Cayden Lamb of Valentine, Zane Zoucha of Malcolm and Lance Olberding from Fort Calhoun. Four wrestlers in the top eight are out of C4 as is Lamb from Valentine. This is the first of many weights in C4 that will be hotly contested.
Raymond Central’s Mitch Albrecht gets the preseason nod at 120. He was a qualifier at B113 last season, but the top ranking is in large part due to his performance against class C opponents last season. This includes a win over the eventual 4th place finisher at C120. He did drop a 7-3 match to Arps who is projected at 113, so that merits monitoring to see if Arps perhaps goes up a weight. Returning C106 runner-up Ancheta will be out with injury until January. Logan View’s Luis Hernandez-Jimenez was a medalist at C113 in 2018. He’ll look to rebound this year after coming up short at districts last year. Aquinas will have either Hunter Vandenberg or Noah Scott at this weight. Either will be a threat to medal or perhaps even win it.
After the top four there’s a ton of talent. Garey was a 2018 SQ but was JV behind 3rd place finisher Gaffney last year. Vondra and Bruns both made the heartbreak round on opposite sides of C113 last year. Escandon from Gibbon had a win over Bruns during the season last year before going to 106. Others to watch include Jace Goebel from Syracuse, Dillon Fushia of Fillmore Central, Braden Ruffner of Conestoga, Antinio Robles from Winnebago, Landyn Maschmeier of Scotus and Ayden Berney from St. Paul. All were qualifiers last year. Valentine will either have Cody Miller or talented freshman Ashton Lurz at this weight. Hayden Kluthe of Ord and Logan Burt from Tekamah-Herman are other excellent freshmen to watch.
Best word to describe the top end talent this weight – amazing. It’s all speculation how the top four wrestlers will shake out in Omaha if they all stay at this weight through the season. Junior Chris Williams moves up two weights and is seeking his 3rd state title. Quentyn Frank was a finalist at D126 as a freshman. Frank picked up a nice win over 2x medalist Faulkenberry during the season last year and they should meet up at some point this season as well. Zitek from Aquinas gave Williams a great match in the finals at C113 in Omaha. The top three wrestlers are all out of the C4 district, so they’ll be spread out well at the state tournament. Ethan Zegers from Milford is a 3x qualifier and was a match away from medaling last year at this weight. Mueller and Thompson were 3rd and 4th at C113 last year. Will Grape came up one point short of medaling at C120. Other wrestlers to watch here include Patak from Wilber-Clatonia, Belville from Doniphan-Trumbull (2018 medalist), Reeves of Battle Creek, Davalos of Twin River and Chini from Conestoga.
Daniel Escandon was a surprise champ at C126 in Omaha, winning one of the tougher brackets in Class C. Broken Bow’s Patrick Powers was ranked #2 for the majority of the season until sustaining an injury at districts. 3x class D medalist Shields moves up two weights for his senior season. Olson from Valentine moves up two weights after medaling at C120 as a freshman. Nickolite was one point away from medaling at this weight a year ago. Logan View’s Valencia is a 2x qualifier and leads a group of several potential medalists. Nick Taylor from Scotus was a match-winner at B132 in Omaha. Raymond Central’s Logan Bryce has a lot of upside at this weight. He was right in the mix with some of the best at B120 last year. Others to watch at this weight are Cal Janke from Bergan, Dalton Anderson of Ponca, Cameron Williams from Conestoga, Carter King from Battle Creek, Jack Chapman of Milford and John Kenney from Loomis/Bertrand.
Valentine’s Gage Krolikowski headlines a MONSTER weight, looking for his fourth state title. The other seven wrestlers ranked at this weight are all state medalists. Widener from Bridgeport gets the #2 nod as the only holdover from this weight. Valentine, Feldner, Graham and McNulty were 3-6 in Omaha last year and start the season in that same order. Owen Lade medaled in 2017 and 2018. He may end up at 132. Ord’s Colton Rowse finished 3rd in 2018 and notched a win over Feldner last year before missing the remainder of the season with injury. Johnson County Central’s Caleb Eggleston has the potential to medal this weight. He may be at 132 as well. Another weight with four ranked in the C4 district. Add returning qualifier Max Palamo of Mitchell to the four ranked wrestlers and a solid wrestler will be staying home. Others to watch include returning qualifiers Kerby Hochstein of Hartington Cedar Catholic and Reedy of Tri County. Ben Shonka from Aquinas is one to watch at this weight as well.
Morgan McGinley had a breakout season last year finishing 3rd at C138. Milford’s Jeaven Scdoris was a runner-up at 132 last year to McGinley’s teammate Krolikowski. Smydra finished 5th at 138 last year and Schrad moves up several weights after a 4th place finish at 126 last year. After the top four things get a little muddier. There are ten or more wrestlers capable of making a run to a medal. Perez of Mitchell beat Shiers from Kearney Catholic out of the C4 district last year. Clayton Harris qualified in 2018 and came up short out of an insanely tough C126 district last year. Gavin Lampman was one match short of a medal at D126. It’s possible he could move down a weight as the season progresses. Bryce Reed of Cross County/Osceola, Cory Carlson from Sutton, Grant Williams of Doniphan-Trumbull, Colby Homolka from Wilber-Clatonia, Quenton Ackley of Ravenna, Gavin Zoucha from Malcolm, Reedy of Tri County, Tryon Calleroz of Arcadia/Loup City are all returning qualifiers. Mason Tenski of Twin River had a great freshman season last year, look for him to make in impact here.
There are two medalists from a year ago at 152 which makes this one of the more open weights in class C. Bentley was 6th at C152 and Pozehl 6th at D145. Since there are no returning high medalists this may be one of the more interesting weights to watch develop throughout the year. Eller, Kreikemeier, Jones and Valdivia were all qualifiers last season. Eller fell in the heartbreak round at state. Kreikemeier wrestled between 145-160 throughout the year before qualifying as a freshman at 152. Valdivia was a match winner in Omaha at C145. Two wrestlers that didn’t make the trip to Omaha, but had numerous quality wins last year, Jaxson Daake and Steven Menke, grab the final two ranking spots to begin the year. Tad Moldenhauer from Wilber-Clatonia and Francisco Mendez of Norfolk Catholic are two additional qualifiers from last year to watch. Bailey Waltke or Drew Garrison from Tri County could end up here and compete for a medal. Look for talented sophomores Grady Belt of Shelby-Rising City and Hunter Cook of Hershey to enter the rankings conversation as the year progresses.
Chase Olson moves up two weights and begins the year number one after finishing 3rd, 2nd, 2nd so far in his career. Some of Olson’s biggest challengers could come out of the C4 district. Halverson was 4th at C160 last year. Kluthe of Ord took Olson to OT in the district finals last season. Warren was a qualifier at C152 and made it out of the extremely tough C4 district last year. Grant Lindsley leads a group of returning qualifiers including Dylan Jones, Tyler Miller and John Karpov. Karpov is up all the way from 138 where he reached the heartbreak round in Class B. Like 152, most of the medalists have vacated the weight. There’s a chance that #1 at 170 Vodicka could wind up here which would obviously make things very interesting at the top. Jarron Metzler of Oakland-Craig and Sam Hollander from Amherst are returning qualifiers projected at this weight.
Assuming Vodicka is up at 170, he sits at the top of one of the more difficult weights entering the season. Brandt from Syracuse really emerged last season as a sophomore, ending the year with a 5th place finish at this weight. Dylan Zoucha of Malcolm had a great season last year, falling just short of a medal. His two losses at stater were by a combined three points to the third and fourth place finishers. Sutton’s Joe Hinrichs has wrestled 126, 145 and now moves all the way up to 170. Valentine’s Gunnar Battershaw had a wonderful freshman campaign last year, finishing 4th place at the senior laden 152lb weight class. Conner Schutz comes up from Class D, where he finished 4th. Tons of qualifiers in the mix. Kment and Rasmussen are 7th and 8th entering the year. Amhert’s Cole Stokebrand, Kelen Meyer, Sawyer Kunc of Wilber-Clatonia, Gavin Hinrichs of Fillmore Central, Tom Maline from Oakland Craig and Jesse Drahota of Ravenna are all qualifiers from last year and round out a magnificent weight.
Runner-up from 170 last year Lathan Duda is moving up to 182. It’s unclear if 3rd place finisher from 170 Trevor Peterson will end up at 182 or not. Sounds like Ethan Villwork will be at 182 this season, rather than 195. Consider him top-three here at 182. Spencer Allen and Eric Hoesing both dropped matches in the heartbreak round at this weight a year ago. Hoesing may go 170, as could Knott from Louisville who was a qualifier there a year ago. Sterup from Cross County/Osceola jumps up several weights after qualifying at 145 last season. Snipes was a match winner at B182 in Omaha. Tri County’s Brandon Siebolt was a match away from placing at D195 and goes down to 182 this year. Siebolt won a 12-10 wild match over Drew Bogard of Amherst at the state tournament last year and Bogard appears to be moving down a weight this year as well. Tyler Wetzel of Ravenna, Cauy Bennett from Hi-Line and Evan Hand of Columbus Scotus are other returning qualifiers projected at 182.
Ord’s Ethan Gabriel missed last season with an injury suffered in the state football finals after finishing 2nd and 3rd his first two seasons. Amherst’s Jarin Potts moves up a few weight classes from D170, where he was 5th last season. Schultz, Escamila and Alexander and Jackman all won matches in Omaha at 195 last year. Logan View’s Logan Booth was one of the top upper weight freshmen in Class C last year at 182. Tri County’s Brandon Beesen is a 2x qualifier and Doniphan Trumbull’s Luis Torrez is also a returning qualifier. HTRS-PC’s Aidan Worthey was another solid freshman in the upper weights last year, he’s one to watch for this season.
Bergan’s Peyton Cone put together a wonderful state tournament last year to bring home a state title at D220. The rest of this weight is going to be hard to predict. Other returning medalists at this weight are Moore (6th C220), Cone (6th C195) and Beaver (4th D220). Moore had a win over Kolby Johnson during the season last year, who beat Peyton Cone during the regular season. Broken Bow’s Keifer Anderson beat Moore at the state tournament but didn’t medal. Conestoga’s Hunter Thonen was a match away from a medal at B220 and has a win during the season over Andrew Cone. This should be fun to watch play out as the top group appear to be relatively evenly matched. Returning qualifiers Jaxon Taubenheim and Brevin Damrow are projected at 220 as well.
Jakob Jerabek has finished 2nd and 3rd the past two seasons and is one of two returning medalists from last season. The other is Jake Ingwersen of David City, who was 5th a year ago. St. Paul’s Nathan Scheer could be up to 285 or back down to 220. He and Jerabek could meet a few times later in the season. Hoevet and Nordmeyer both won matches in Omaha at C285. Eli Simonson was a D285 qualifier. Jarvis Smith qualified at C220 and is moving up to 285 this season. Eric Escobar from Wilber-Clatonia came up one point short in a very tough C2 district last year. All of the qualifiers from that district won at least one match in Omaha. Other returning qualifiers are Owen Schramm of Aquinas, Keegan Weiss from Mitchell and Zach Burr from Syracuse. Alex Miller of Logan View qualified in 2018. Keep an eye on Broken Bow’s Sawyer Bumgarner, who had numerous quality wins last season wrestling JV.