by Cody Mainquist and Rob Sanders

Team Race:

Head here to check out the Class A rankings

The Millard South Patriots are the favorites to win the the Class A title by a landslide, even though they only have 1 returning state champion. They do return three second place finishers, in Caleb Coyle, Tyler Antoniak, and Antrell Taylor. They all had very productive off-seasons and begin the year ranked at the top of their respective weights. Coyle recorded All-American finishes in both Freestyle and Greco at Fargo in addition to a UWW Cadet Greco All-American finish. He also had an All-American finish at Preseason Nationals. Antoniak and Taylor both made the U15 World Finals, with Antoniak winning a World Championship in Greco, and Taylor earning a silver medal in Freestyle. Antoniak also finished in 5th place at Preseason Nationals. Taylor will get a late start to the season due to an injury sustained in the state football playoffs. Conor Knopick won the UWW Cadet Greco World Team Trials and competed at the World Championships. He finished 5th at the Super 32 Challenge and won Monster Match Nationals. Highly touted freshman Joel Adams was a bronze medalist at the U15 World Championships in Greco. NC State signee Isaac Trumble seeks his second state title after finishing as a double All-American at Fargo and placing 3rd at the Super 32 Challenge this summer/fall. Transfer Scott Robertson won the 4A State Title at 120 for Bear River (Utah), posting a 53-2 record and earning bonus point wins in 3 of his 4 matches at the state tournament. He also went 4-2 at Preseason Nationals (138) and was a state champion in Freestyle and Greco at 132. Returning state qualifiers Blake Smith, Alex White, and Chris Wortman make it very likely that the Patriots will have a minimum of 10 wrestlers competing for state medals in Omaha

113 #1 Caleb Coyle (Jr)
120 #4 Joel Adams (Fr)
132 #1 Conor Knopick (Jr)
138 #1 Tyler Antoniak (So)
145 #1 Antrell Taylor (So)
152 #1 Scott Robertson (Sr)
220 #1 Isaac Trumble (Sr)
285 #6 Chris Wortman (Sr)

Columbus returns a lot of talent from last year’s state runner up team. They are led by senior Kasten Grape, who won state at 220 last year. He is making his way down to 195. Anthony DeAnda, who finished 4th at 195 a season ago is heading down to 182. The Discoverers also return state medalists Blayze Standley, Tanner Kobza, and Clay Cerny. State qualifiers Caine Stenger, Levi Bloomquist, and Alex Korte also return. The Senior laden Discoverers will look to make a major push this year.

106 #3 Caine Stenger (So)
120 #5 Clay Cerny (Sr)
132 #4 Tanner Kobza (Jr)
170 #2 Blayze Standley (Jr)
182 #1 Anthony Deanda (Sr)
195 #1 Kasten Grape (Sr)

Lincoln East, the 2018 Class A Team Champions, finished fourth in 2019. They return one of the top wrestlers in the whole country, Northwestern signee and nationally ranked Maxx Mayfield. He’ll lead the team at 160. East will also have Keith Smith at their disposal this season after wrestling behind Brandon Baustert last season. Smith is coming off a Preseason Nationals championship performance along with a big summer in Fargo. He is the top ranked wrestler at 106 pounds. The Spartans return state placers, Brandon Baustert, Breckin Sperling, and UNK signee Grant Lyman, who enters the year as the top ranked 170lb wrestler. State qualifiers Ge’Auvian Creighton, Noah Sprieck, and Nic Swift will also be looking to get on the podium this season.

106 #1 Keith Smith (So)
113 #3 Brandon Baustert (So)
138 #8 Nic Swift (Jr)
145 #4 Breckin Sperling (Sr)
160 #1 Maxx Mayfield (Sr)
170 #1 Grant Lyman (Sr)
195 #4 Noah Sprieck (Jr)
285 #5 Ge’Auvien Creighton (So)

Omaha Burke will be looking to replace the leadership left by two-time state champion Dillyn Miller and 4x state champion James Burks. One guy who will certainly step in to that spot will be the youngest of the Burks, Jakason. Jakason is a four time All American in Fargo, World Team Member in Cadet Greco, wrestled in FloWrestling’s Who’s Number One event, and will be wrestling for Oklahoma State next year. Burks will be looking to end his career as a three-time champ. The Bulldogs also return state placers Jeromy Nielsen, Trey Nielsen, Deson Stapleton, and Blaine Miller. State qualifiers Nate Rubino and Jayden Looney will also add depth to the lineup. The Bulldogs also add transfer Julio Reyes, a fourth place finisher for Johnson County Central in the C106 bracket.

106 #2 Julio Reyes (So)
113 #6 Nate Rubino (Jr)
126 #1 Jakason Burks (Sr)
132 #3 Jeromy Nielsen (Jr)
145 #5 Trey Nielsen (Jr)
152 #3 Deson  Stapleton (Jr)
160 #7 Blaine Miller (So)
285 #8 Nolan Olafson (Jr)

One team that always seems to be near the top, the Kearney Bearcats, return some fire power and will look to make another run with a fairly young team. They do lose a significant chunk of points after graduating multiple-time state champions Moomey and James. Senior Brayden Smith will be back in the lineup this season, as the 2018 state champion was behind Moomey last year, so that will be a good start. Senior state placers Hunter Nagatani and Gauge McBride are back. Additional state placers Archer Heelan, Rylie Steele, Carter Abels and qualifier Gage Ferguson all return to help bolster the Bearcat lineup.

113 #4 Archer Heelan (So)
120 #3 Hunter Nagatani (Sr)
126 #4 Rylie Steele (Jr)
138 #3 Brayden Smith (Sr)
145 #6 Gage Ferguson (Jr)
152 #4 Gauge McBride (Sr)
160 #3 Carter Abels (Jr)
220 #7 Dario Rodriguez (Jr)

Omaha Central benefited from a big transfer this summer. Gabe Grice joined the Eagles after winning a state title for Bellevue East last season, and was runner-up as a freshman at Omaha Gross. He will join an already talented lineup that returns placers Emilio Haynes, the Davis brothers (Deon and Justin) and heavyweight Jacob Frezell-McClinton. Central will be adding a big time freshman, DJ Bonam at 106 this season as well. Central will be a team to keep an eye on in the years to come with such a young lineup.

106 #4 DJ Bonam (Fr)
120 #2 Emilio Haynes (Sr)
126 #2 Gabe Grice (Jr)
152 #2 Deon Davis (Jr)
170 #3 Justin Davis (SO)
285 #2 Jacob Frezell-McClinton (Sr)

Papillion LaVista will be returning a big portion of their lineup this year. State runner-up Cole Price will be leading an experienced and deep group for the Monarchs. Cody Niemiec will look to bounce back after an injury at state last year that dropped him to sixth place, after finishing third as a both a sophomore and freshman. Joining those two will be state qualifiers Ben Kroeger, Jordan Bobier, Ian Rudner, Landon Roberts and Carson Maas. There will be a big opportunity for the Monarchs to pick up a lot of points with qualifiers at nearly every weight. They will be helped by incoming freshman Alex Morris as well.

106 #8 Dominic Martinez (So)
120 #8 Jordan Bobier (Jr)
126 #6 Ian Rudner (Jr)
138 #2 Cody Niemiec (Sr)
145 #8 Landon Roberts (Sr)
160 #2 Cole Price (Jr)
170 #8 Alex Morris (Fr)
182 #3 Carson Maas (Sr)

Grand Island will be bringing back a loaded group this season. Third place finishers Juan Pedro and Blake Cushing will be leading a talented group trying to improve on last year’s 7th place finish. They are joined by state qualifiers Kael Kingery, Brody Arrants, Tyler Salpas, Kolby Lukasiewicz, Izaiah Deras, and Daylon Keolavone. Many of the wrestlers have put together nice off-seasons, including Ein Obermiller, Rogelio Ruiz and Michael Isele. Grand Island is a young team who could be a dark horse team at the state tournament.

106 #5 Ein Obermiller (So)
113 #2 Juan Pedro (Jr)
126 #3 Blake Cushing (Jr)
138 #7 Brody Arrants (Jr)
145 #7 Tyler Salpas (Jr)
152 #6 Kolby Lukasiewicz (Jr)
195 #5 Daylon Keolavone (Jr)

North Platte has made their way back to Class A, after a short stint in Class B. The Bulldogs finished sixth last year and return their workhorse, Darian Diaz. Diaz was the state champion last season at 126 pounds and will be moving up to a loaded 132 pound class this season when he enters the lineup in January. They also return 4th place finishers Jaylan Ruffin and Gavyn Brauer, along with and 6th place finishers Brock Little and Cash Arensdorf. What they lack in quantity, they definitely make up for in quality.

126 #5 Jaylan Ruffin (Jr)
132 #2 Darian Diaz (Jr)
170 #4 Gavyn Brauer (Jr)
182 #2 Cash Arensdorf (Jr)

Papillion LaVista South is returning a team with a few guys who picked up valuable experience in last year’s state tournament. They will have to deal with losing state runner up Trajen Linear who was injured late in the football season. Alex Irizarry is returning from a 5th place finish and moving down a weight. Caleb Conner, another 5th place finisher will be moving up a weight. The Titans also return state qualifiers Parker and Cade Schendt, Stone Sindelar, John Enzolera, Ty Skidmore, and Tyler Robinson.

138 #6 Stone Sindelar  (Sr)
145 #2 Alex Irizarry (Sr)
160 #4 Caleb Connor (Sr)
170 #6 Cade Schendt (Sr)
220 #4 Tyler Robinson (Sr)

Additional teams to watch:

Bellevue East returns state champion Garrett Grice, 4th place finisher Daniel Derozier, and state qualifiers Caelan Hester and Preston Welch.

Omaha Westside returns the Haberman brothers. Cade was runner up at heavyweight, and Cole was a state qualifier. 220 pounder Quincy Hogan is a returning qualifier and match-winner in Omaha.

Omaha Bryan will have a tough team, as they return state medalist Jaylon Walker along with qualifiers Noor Salat and Mohamed Abdi.

Individual Weight Breakdown:

Head here to check out the Class A rankings

Top ranked Keith Smith (Lincoln East) won the Preseason Nationals championship at 106 in the 9th/10th grade division, winning 6 matches back in October. In July, he finished as a Cadet Greco All-American at 100lbs. Second ranked Julio Reyes (Omaha Burke) transferred from Johnson County Central and finished 4th in the C106 bracket posting a 31-4 record last season. Returning state qualifier Caine Stenger (Columbus) was the A3 district champion while posting a 16-5 season record. Freshman Bonam (Omaha Central) brings quite an impressive list of accolades to the fold, as he has won Tula Nationals, Preseason Nationals, Folkstyle Nationals, and is a 8x Winter Nationals champion. Obermiller (Grand Island) had a successful offseason, while Becerra qualified for state last season.

This weight will look almost identical to 106 last year, as 6 of the 8 ranked wrestlers were state qualifiers at 106 in 2019. The top 3 ranked wrestlers finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the A106 brackets respectively, while Rubino and McLaughlin each qualified at 106. Coyle, Heelan, Baustert, and Pedro traded matches last year, with Coyle getting the top-ranked spot by placing the highest and beating Heelan (quarterfinals) and Pedro (semifinals) in Omaha. Batterton (5th) finished 6th in the A113 bracket while Salat (7th) won one match in Omaha and posted a 35-14 season record.

This weight has 6 ranked wrestlers who qualified for state at 113 in 2019. Grice (Bellevue East) edged Haynes (Omaha Central) 4-3 in the state finals, while Nagatani (Kearney) finished 4th and Cerny (Columbus) finished 5th at state. Adams (Millard South) gets the nod for the 4th spot over Cerny due to his bronze finish at the U15 World Championships, and don’t be surprised if he throws a monkey wrench in this weight. Allerheiligen (Millard North) won 37 matches last year and finished 6th at this weight, while Donald was a state placer in 2018 and lost in the blood round in 2019. Bobier rounds out the top 8 on his 32-win season and qualifying at 113 in 2019.

Two returning state champions headline this weight, with Burks (Omaha Burke) moving up 1 weight, and Grice (Omaha Central) moving up 3 weight classes. Burks will be chasing his third state title. They man the top 2 spots, with Cushing (Grand Island) and Steele (Kearney) filling the 3rd and 4th spots respectively. Cushing gave Grice’s younger brother Garrett a scrap in the top half of the 113 semifinal last season, while Steele gave Burks his closest match at state and then stormed to a third place finish at 120. Ruffin (North Platte) finished 4th in the B113 bracket and won 34 matches last season. Last year, Rudner (Papillion LaVista) won 36 matches, Godfrey (Norfolk) won 26 matches, and May (Millard West) won 32 matches and all qualified for state at 120.

Knopick (Millard South) is fresh off a gritty performance at the Super32 Challenge, finishing 4th ra surprise. If Diaz (North Platte) is able to compete this season, it might not be until 2020. A trio of 4th place finishers from 2019 bring up the 3rd through 5th spots, with Nielsen (Omaha Burke) competing at 132, Kobza (Columbus) at 120, and Derosier at 126. in 2019 and posted a 37-10 season record. Mohamed (Omaha Bryan) won 42 matches at this weight in 2019 and lost in the blood round to Nielsen,

U15 Greco World Champion Antoniak (Millard South) was the state runner-up at this weight last year, and his only in-state losses were to Maxx Mayfield. Niemiec (Papillion LaVista) jumps up from 126 where he finished 6th, and looks to earn his 4th state medal. His style is more reliant on quickness and scrambling than Antoniak’s position and pressure focused mindset, and they should meet a handful of times this season. Smith (Kearney) was stuck behind Moomey last year, and is as dangerous as they come. Martinez (South Sioux City) jumps up from 120 where he finished 5th. Hester (Bellevue East) qualified at 132, while Sindelar (Papio South) lost in the blood round at 120. Arrants (Grand Island) won 35 matches last year and qualified at 126, while Swift (Lincoln East) jumps up 4 weight classes and has grown into his long frame.

Taylor (Millard South) suffered a football injury and will likely be out until January. Like many other Patriots, he had a very successful offseason, culminating in a silver medal finish at the U15 World Championships in Freestyle. Irizarry (Papio South) drops from 152 where he was an eyelash away from making the state finals last season. Meink (Millard North) finished 4th at 138 and collected 42 wins on the season. Sperling (Lincoln East) finished 5th at 132, and was busy this offseason. Nielsen (Omaha Burke) finished 6th at this weight, while Ferguson (Kearney) and Salpas (Grand Island) both lost in the blood round. Roberts (Papillion LaVista) won 30 matches and qualified at 138.

Robertson (Millard South) is a move-in from Utah where he was the 4A State Champion at 120. It appears that 152 is where he fits in Millard South’s lineup even though he competed at 138 at Preseason Nationals. Davis (Omaha Central) won 37 matches and finished 4th at 145, while Stapleton (Omaha Burke) finished 3rd at 152 last season. McBride (Kearney) is the 4th returning placer at this weight, finishing 3rd at 138 with 41 wins on the season. Licking (Norfolk) won 25 matches last season, losing 1 point matches to both Stapleton and Davis at the state tournament. Lukasiewicz (Grand Island) jumps up from 132, where he won 25 matches and lost in the blood round at state. Okereke (Lincoln High) jumps up from 138 where he won 26 matches and also lost in the blood round. Welch (Elkhorn South) won 35 matches at 145 and was a state qualifier last year.

All 8 ranked wrestlers at this weight were state placers last year, with the exception of Splater (Norfolk) who finished 5th at 152 in 2018. Mayfield (Lincoln East) moves up 3 weight classes seeking his 3rd state title, with returning state runner-up at 152 Cole Price (Papillion LaVista) being his toughest test according to last year’s placements. Abels finished 5th at this weight last year, but we have learned since our initial rankings that he will be at 170 this season. Connor (Papio South) finished 5th at 145 and nearly won 40 matches last season. Zegers (Lincoln Southeast) collected 3 falls at last year’s state tournament to make the podium (6th place). Valencia (Millard West) finished 6th at 152 and amassed 34 wins last season, while Miller (Omaha Burke) also moves up from 138 where he finished 5th last season.

Lyman (Lincoln East) has steadily improved each season, and is the front runner at 170. He won both matches against Standley (Columbus) last season by bonus points. Class B state placer Brauer (North Platte) pinned Standley in late December, while Standley won by scores of 14-2 and 11-4 over Brauer later in the season. Both McDonnell (Bellevue East) and Schendt (Papio South) won more than 30 matches and lost in the blood round at 160. Curiel (South Sioux City) qualified at this weight on the strength of 21 wins, while freshman Morris (Papillion LaVista) finished 2nd at 160 at the USA Wrestling State Championships and had a successful freestyle/greco season culminating in All-American finishes in both styles at Kids Nationals.

DeAnda (Columbus) finished 4th at 195 last season, and is moving down to a more natural weight this season. Arensdorf (North Platte) finished 6th in the B160 bracket. Maas (Papillion LaVista) won 32 matches at this weight and lost in the blood round, while McClatchey won 27 matches and qualified at 170 last season. Haberman (Omaha Westside) won 34 matches and qualified at 170. Glogowski (Creighton Prep) won 20 matches and was a state qualifier up at 195, while Arend (Gretna) qualified at 220.

Grape (Columbus) was the state champion at 220 last year beating Pray (Creighton Prep) in the finals, and both will battle again this season. Huber (Gretna) was the state runner-up at this weight last season and his grinding style will push Grape and Pray, but will be out until January due to a football injury. Sprieck (Lincoln East) won 35 matches at this weight and lose in the blood round, beating Keolavone (Grand Island) in the second consolation round. Ames (Norfolk), Johnson (Elkhorn) and Bell (Lincoln Southeast) all qualified at this weight last season.

Trumble (Millard South) started his high school career at 160, and is now a full sized 220. He posted a 56-0 record last season and collected 3 falls and a major decision at the state tournament. Walker (Omaha Bryan) finished 3rd at this weight and won 50 matches last season. Vasquez (Omaha South) won 32 matches and lost to Walker in the blood round, beating Robinson (Papio South) at state. Hogan (Omaha Westside) qualified at this weight and won 1 match at state. Both Hazel (Bellevue West) and Rodriguez (Kearney) lost in the blood round of their respective district tournaments. Smith (Omaha Central) saw some varsity action last season.

Haberman (Omaha Westside) finished 2nd last season, winning 41 matches as a sophomore. Frezell-McClinton (Omaha Central) lost to Haberman in the state semifinals, but finished 4th and won 39 matches on the season. Ngeleka (South Sioux City) and Welch (Bellevue East) both won 25+ matches on the season and won 1 match at state. Creighton (Lincoln East), Wortman (Millard South), and Shiney (Millard North) all qualified for state, while Olafson (Omaha Burke) had some wins over teammate Stapleton who finished in the blood round last year.

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