2020 State Tournament Class B Preview
By Kevin Fries

Team Race Preview and Prediction:

When the season started many across the state thought this would be an unpredictable year in Class B, and it has lived up to the billing. Coming off last year’s state tournament which saw Northwest rebound from 11th place on Thursday to claim the team title, the door seemed wide open for the 2020 title. Omaha Skutt looked to have the horses until Lazure was unable to compete this season due to an injury. Hastings then jumped into the conversation for the top spot in Class B. The Tigers took home the state dual team championship and qualified 13 of their 14 wrestlers for the state tournament. Based on the predicted state finishes Hastings appears to have overtaken Skutt as the team to beat in Class B.

It should be a great race for second between several teams. Arlington, Bennington and Omaha Skutt appear to have separated themselves slightly from the pack. With four potential finalists Arlington should be right in the thick of things. They are a team built for state tournament scoring. Bennington is gaining steam and with a great district performance they appear capable of challenging for a team trophy. They’re neck and neck right now with Arlington. Will their depth push them into solo second this weekend? Omaha Skutt is built more like Arlington with some big point scorers. Ourada at 106 is a good bet to make the finals. Stoltenberg and Jansen are pretty solid favorite tow in their weights as well. The Skyhawks will look to Kruse, Orsi and Drahota to help keep them in the top two in Class B. All three have been highly ranked this year and if they can turn in solid performances this weekend then they can make a run at the title.

Gering, Northwest and Aurora should be able to challenge for spots in the top five. Ralston, Central City and Wahoo lead quite the pack of contenders for the remaining top ten spots. The contender teams either have plenty of qualifiers or a few standouts that could make the finals and help push their teams into the top ten based on their top end points. The gap is so small between 8th and 17th that the teams that get hot and keep the momentum going will be the ones to crack the top ten.

Predicted Team Champion: Hastings

Top 10 Team Prediction (# of qualifiers):
1. Hastings (13)
T2. Arlington (6)
T2. Bennington (9)
4. Omaha Skutt (8)
5. Northwest (7)
6. Gering (7)
7. Aurora (8)
8. Ralston (6)
9. Central City (6)
10. Wahoo (6)

Contenders (alphabetical):
Beatrice (8)
Blair (7)
Columbus Lakeview (9)
Pierce (10)
Sidney (7)
Wayne (6)
York (8)

Individual Preview and Predictions:



Top Half:
This half of the bracket is loaded with the #2, #3 and #5 wrestlers on this side. Look for #5 Obermiller (Adams Central) and #3 Svoboda (Aurora) to meet in the quarterfinals. Obermiller defeated Svoboda on the opening weekend, but Svoboda has had some wins over wrestlers that have beaten Obermiller. That one is a coin flip. #2 Ourada (Skutt) should advance to the semis Friday night. Ourada looks to be the pick to advance against the winner of Obermiller/Svoboda on this half.

Bottom Half:
Freshman phenom #1 Lauridsen (Bennington) shouldn’t have any bumps on his way to the finals from this side. Garfield (Central City) is likely the only one who could cause him any issues. Garfield will need to get past both Christo, then likely Miller from Hastings to get to Lauridsen.

Predicted Champion: Kael Lauridsen (Bennington)
Darkhorse Medalist: Blaine Christo (Ashland-Greendwood)

Projected Top 6:
1. Kael Lauridsen (Bennington)
2. Zachary Ourada (Omaha Skutt)
3. Caden Svoboda (Aurora)
4. Drew Garfield (Central City)
5. Tristen Obermiller (Adams Central)
6. Markus Miller (Hastings)




Top Half:
On this half of the bracket it is looking like two freshmen in #5 Parrish (Bennington) and #3 Kort (Adams Central) are headed for a semifinal showdown. Parrish will have to get past the Lazo/Bolling winner while Kort will likely have #7 Munier (Sidney). Munier is a salty wrestler who could trip up Kort. Based on what I’ve seen I like Kort on this half.

Bottom Half:
A rematch of the state finals from last year is looming on this half as #1 Chavez (Gering) and #2 Arends (Northwest) are opposite each other. Chavez will likely have to get past Prados (Nebraska City) in the quarters and Arends will likely have Oswald (Aurora). Solely based on last year’s finals and no other indicators otherwise the lean goes to Chavez on this half.

Predicted Champion: Quinton Chavez (Gering)
Darkhorse Medalist: Brock Bolling (Pierce)

Projected Top 6:
1. Quinton Chavez (Gering)
2. Braiden Kort (Adams Central)
3. Grady Arends (Northwest)
4. AJ Parrish (Bennington)
5. Carlos Prados (Nebraska City)
6. Austin Munier (Sidney)




Top Half:
Top half of this bracket is absolutely loaded! #4 Garcia (Scottsbluff) is a two-time defending champion but has been chasing #1 Arnold (Beatrice) ever since he bumped up from 113. Look for Garcia to match up with McKee (Ralston) in the quarters. #7 McKee is a transfer from Millard South who is very physical at this weight. Arnold should match up with #6 Ivey (York), who only has three losses on the season. Arnold has been on a mission this year and is the pick to advance to the finals on this half.

Bottom Half:
#5 Rainforth (O’Neill) enters the tournament undefeated and can run all the way to the finals. #2 Bailey (Lexington) is his likely quarterfinal opponent. Bailey has had a few hiccups as of late so Rainforth gets the nod. #3 Ruff (Gering) and #8 Bordovsky (Wahoo) should meet in the quarters. Ruff looks to have the advantage in that one. Rainforth vs. Ruff would be a very entertaining match-up. Experience goes to Ruff and he is the pick.

Predicted Champion: Drew Arnold (Beatrice)
Darkhorse Medalist: Thomas Ivey (York)

Projected Top 6:
1. Drew Arnold (Beatrice)
2. Paul Ruff (Gering)
3. Paul Garcia (Scottsbluff)
4. Ty Rainforth (O’Neill)
5. Jeremy McKee (Ralston)
6. Ean Bailey (Lexington)




Top Half:
Tough half to figure out as many of them have a chance to advance to Friday night. Based on performances at districts lean is to Nagel (Gering) and #3 Jaqua (Wayne) on the top side. Mass (Ralston) and #5 Engel (Columbus Lakeview) seem to be picking up steam at the right time. Jaqua’s length will cause anyone fits, so he is the choice on this half.

Bottom Half:
A match-up between #2 Weidner (Hastings) and #1 Kunz (Central City) should take place Friday night. Weidner has had a great freshman campaign and Kunz is as poised as anyone right now. Kunz has a big edge here and should be standing at the top of the podium on Saturday.

Predicted Champion: Dyson Kunz (Central City)
Darkhorse Medalist: Lucien Engel (Columbus Lakeview)

Projected Top 6:
1. Dyson Kunz (Central City)
2. Reece Jaqua (Wayne)
3. Landon Weidner (Hastings)
4. Tyler Curtis (Blair)
5. Tyler Nagel (Gering)
6. Michael Mass (Ralston)




Top Half:
#3 Brown’s (Hastings) injury last year derailed his bid for a state medal, but he looks to be in fine form this season. He is the clear favorite on the top half of the bracket. Isley (Northwest) is peaking at the right time and an upset of Kruse (Skutt) wouldn’t be a surprise. #7 Jaixen (Columbus Lakeview) is a big 132 lber, but Jensen (Pierce) will give him all he wants. Murillo (Gering) should advance to the quarters. Lean is to a Brown vs. Jaixen semifinal, with Brown coming out on top.

Bottom Half:
A clash between #1 Gilmore (Arlington) and #2 Reinke (Beatrice) looks to be in the cards for the semifinals. Gilmore rolled thru the B3 and likewise for Reinke in B1. This will be a great match-up should it come to fruition. Lean is to Gilmore.

Predicted Champion: Hunter Gilmore (Arlington)
Darkhorse Medalist: Brady Isley (Northwest)

Projected Top 6:
1. Hunter Gilmore (Arlington)
2. Bryce Brown (Hastings)
3. Trevor Reinke (Beatrice)
4. Logan Jaixen (Columbus Lakeview)
5. Nathaniel Murillo (Gering)
6. Adam Kruse (Omaha Skutt)




Top Half:
Five of the top eight land in the top half of the bracket. #4 Rocheleau (Gering) and #6 Ford (Auburn) face off in the first round. Rocheleau is clicking on all cylinders and should advance here. #8 Kort (Adams Central), #7 Frost (Blair) and #1 Kluck (Aurora) should also advance to the quarters. Rocheleau and Kluck are the top two here and should meet in the semis. Kluck has been untouchable this season and I don’t see that changing.

Bottom Half:
#3 Thompson (O’Neill) and #5 Lemburg (Columbus Lakeview) should see each other in the quarters, while #2 Quandt (Northwest) will face the winner of Johnson/Greenwood. Thompson has two wins over Lemburg so going with Thompson there. Quandt should face off with him in the semis. Quandt took a 13-12 decision back in mid-January. Going with the always dangerous Quandt.

Predicted Champion: Trevor Kluck (Aurora)
Darkhorse Medalist: Cameron Kort (Adams Central)

Projected Top 6:
1. Trevor Kluck (Aurora)
2. Collin Quandt (Northwest)
3. Brady Thompson (O’Neill)
4. Nate Rocheleau (Gering)
5. Joel Lemburg (Columbus Lakeview)
6. Hank Frost (Blair)




Top Half:
#1 Orsi (Skutt) and #2 Talmadge (Ralston) will battle it out in the first round. Orsi was dealt a loss in the district finals and Talmadge was disqualified for an illegal slam in the district semis to set-up this match-up. Talmadge looks all the part of 145 and seems to have put in plenty of mat time in the off season. Lean here is to Talmadge who will likely face Fago (Lexington). Fago took home the tough B4 title and can pull off a stunner. I’m going with Talmadge over Berg (Blair) in the semis on this half.

Bottom Half:
#5 Martin (Seward) took home the B3 title and the bracket sets up nicely for him. If he wrestles how he is capable, he should advance over the winner of #8 Wellnitz (Chadron) and Johnson (Platteview). #7 Stokey (Ogallala) will have his hands full in the first round with Samuelson (Hastings) as will #4 Puck (Bennington) with Schneiderheinz (Central City). Lean is to Stokey and Puck, with Puck heading to the championship bout.

Predicted Champion: Noah Talmadge (Ralston)
Darkhorse Medalist: Joseph Orsi (Omaha Skutt)

Projected Top 6:
1. Noah Talmadge (Ralston)
2. Colby Puck (Bennington)
3. Brady Fago (Lexington)
4. Gage Stokey (Ogallala)
5. Sean Martin (Seward)
6. Dylan Berg (Blair)




Top Half:
#1 Stoltenberg (Skutt) is the clear favorite in this half, and this entire weight class. He should face off with #3 Brumbaugh (Hastings) in the semis but should advance to Saturday afternoon. Watch Walling (Wahoo) and Cooley (Northwest) as both can battle back thru the backside to earn a medal.

Bottom Half:
This has all the makings of a very fun half of a bracket. #2 Zink (Ogallala) should advance to the quarters and face Spaulding (Norris) or #7 Steinhoff (Platteview). Steinhoff has been on fire lately, so he gets the nod. #6 Colgrove (Plattsmouth) should advance and likely meet Schweitzer (Pierce) who took home the B3 title. Like Colgrove in this one but will have a tall task against Zink in the semis.

Predicted Champion: Nicholas Stoltenberg (Omaha Skutt)
Darkhorse Medalist: Ashton Schweitzer (Pierce)

Projected Top 6:
1. Nicholas Stoltenberg (Omaha Skutt)
2. Cameron Zink (Ogallala)
3. Mason Brumbaugh (Hastings)
4. Austin Cooley (Northwest)
5. Josh Colgrove (Plattsmouth)
6. Elliot Steinhoff (Platteview)




Top Half:
Six of the top ranked wrestlers litter this half of the bracket. #2 Hunsley (Hastings) should face off with the winner of #4 Drahota (Skutt) and #5 Moore (Central City). Moore gets the lean here based on his recent results. Hunsley will be too much to handle for Moore and should advance to the semis. #3 Shanahan (Wahoo) and #8 Wessels (Aurora) will also battle it out in the first round. Look for Shanahan to advance to face Awiszus (Gering), with Shanahan advancing. Hunsley looks to be in fine form and should head to the finals.

Bottom Half:
#1 Miller (Arlington) is the favorite on this half of the bracket. He has had a tremendous season and not sure anyone on this half can match him. Keep an eye on freshman Schweitzer (Pierce) as he has pieced together a solid season and could be in the medal hunt. He took some lumps at the district, so it will be interesting to see how he rebounds.

Predicted Champion: Josh Miller (Arlington)
Darkhorse Medalist: Jacob Awiszus (Gering)

Projected Top 6:
1. Josh Miller (Arlington)
2. Izaak Hunsley (Hastings)
3. Trey Shanahan (Wahoo)
4. Tyler Nelson (Norris)
5. Sam Moore (Central City)
6. Kolby Wessels (Aurora)




Top Half:
Looking like #6 Robb (Sidney) and #2 Hancock (Wahoo) will meet in the quarters and well as #3 Lyons (York) and #7 Nelson (Beatrice). Robb has been on a tear since he settled in at this weight and I think he upsets Hancock. Lyons looks to be peaking at the right time and should face Robb in the semis. Lean is to Robb.

Bottom Half:
On this half #1 Canoyer (Waverly) should face #8 Owens (Aurora) in the quarters, while #5 Skinner (Ogallala) should meet #4 Brett Tinker (Pierce). Canoyer seems to be too tough right now and should advance with a semis win over Tinker.

Predicted Champion: Evan Canoyer (Waverly)
Darkhorse Medalist: Brody Nelson (Beatrice)

Projected Top 6:
1. Evan Canoyer (Waverly)
2. Brady Robb (Sidney)
3. Brett Tinker (Pierce)
4. Kobe Lyons (York)
5. Cooper Hancock (Wahoo)
6. Brock Skinner (Ogallala)




Top Half:
#1 Pape (Hastings) is the clear-cut favorite on this half of the bracket, and at this weight altogether. #5 Papineau (Aurora) looks to be his opponent in the semifinals.

Bottom Half:
This half of the bracket is tough to predict with five ranked wrestlers. #3 Wilkins (Arlington) and #2 MacDonald (Bennington) should be on a course to face-off in the semis. Either one can put themselves in the finals. Lean is to the senior Wilkins over the sophomore MacDonald.

Predicted Champion: Damen Pape (Hastings)
Darkhorse Medalist: Braden Hansen (Blair)

Projected Top 6:
1. Damen Pape (Hastings)
2. Kobe Wilkins (Arlington)
3. Luke MacDonald (Bennington)
4. Brekyn Papineau (Aurora)
5. William Marxsen (Schuyler)
6. Kaden Lyons (York)




Top Half:
Another half of the bracket with a clear favorite to win the entire weight class in #1 Jansen (Skutt). He has been unstoppable against Nebraska competition this year and I think he will finish at the top of the podium.

Bottom Half:
#4 Langan (McCook) is in rare fashion right now and should roll into the semis. He will have to face either #6 Larsen (Blair) or #7 Fiala (Aurora) in the quarters but should be able to get by either. #3 Firmanik (Fairbury) and #2 Bordovsky (Wahoo) should meet in the quarters. Bordovsky took a 4-3 decision earlier this season so he get the nod.

Predicted Champion: Eli Jansen (Omaha Skutt)
Darkhorse Medalist: Dexter Larsen (Blair)

Projected Top 6:
1. Eli Jansen (Omaha Skutt)
2. Kole Bordovsky (Wahoo)
3. Seth Firmanik (Fairbury)
4. Alec Langan (McCook)
5. Evan Morara (Hastings)
6. Zach Ellingson (Seward)




Top Half:
#2 Menke (Bennington) looks to be the best of the bunch here. He will likely face #8 Krauter (Pierce) in the quarters. The other quarterfinal is really a toss up. Stott (Cozad) rolled thru his district so he gets the nod. In an upset, Davis should be Stott’s opponent. Menke should advance to Saturday afternoon.

Bottom Half:
All chalk on this half of the bracket with #6 Rodriguez (York), #4 Ludwig (Ashland-Greenwood), #3 Meyer (Norris) and #1 Griess (Northwest) all advancing to the quarters. Going with chalk all the way thru as Griess will advance to the finals over Ludwig.

Predicted Champion: Grady Griess (Northwest)
Darkhorse Medalist: Brayan Rodriguez (York)

Projected Top 6:
1. Grady Griess (Northwest)
2. Garett Menke (Bennington)
3. Jacob Ludwig (Ashland-Greenwood)
4. Cade Stott (Cozad)
5. Dylan Meyer (Norris)
6. Blake Davis (Hastings)




Top Half:
Four of the top ranked wrestlers are in this half of the bracket, which is one of the better heavyweight brackets in several years. All ranked wrestlers should advance to the quarters – #7 Kucera (Columbus Lakeview), #2 Leatherdale (Wayne), #6 Hernandez (Ralston), and #5 Valquier (Nebraska City). Look for Leatherdale and Valquier to meet in the semis, with Leatherdale getting the nod to advance to the finals.

Bottom Half:
Travnicek (Scottsbluff) had a great district and should face Callejas (Hastings) in the quarters. Like Travnicek in that one. #4 Jividen (Aurora) and #3 Hartman (Omaha Concordia) hook horns in round one and should be a great match. Slight lean to Hartman here. #1 Gay is nearly unstoppable right now and should defeat anyone on this half to make it to the finals.

Predicted Champion: Remington Gay (Arlington)
Darkhorse Medalist: Aaron Jividen (Aurora)

Projected Top 6:
1. Remington Gay (Arlington)
2. Mike Leatherdale (Wayne)
3. Alfredo Valquier (Nebraska City)
4. David Hernandez (Ralston)
5. Neil Hartman (Omaha Concordia)
6. Trayton Travnicek (Scottsbluff)

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