NSWCA Comments COPY November 30, 2016
Class A Top 10 Teams MEETS/Preseason
1. Millard South
4. Omaha Burke
5. Millard West
6. Lincoln Southwest
7. Millard North
8. Lincoln East
9. Papillion LaVista
10. Bellevue East
Rater: Todd Porter
Not surprisingly, 2 time defending Class A Champions Millard South start the season off where they left off in February…….on top of the Class A rankings in meets. The Patriots, led by Hall of Fame Coach Doug Denson, and long time top assistant Jay Meneely, remain this observers solid pick to win it all for a 3rd time, reminiscent of their run in the 2000’s. They return 8 State Qualifiers, and 6 State Medalists, including transfers Weidner from Bryan (2015 State Placer), and Baughman from Papio (2016 placer), along with State Qualifier MacDonald from Papio as well. When you have a program like Millard South, the cupboard is never bare.
Coach Denson has great respect for Kearney and Coach Ty Swarm’s squad, and rightfully so. Coach Swarm is a great coach, and one of Class A wrestling really nice guys….a true representative of the sport at it’s best. The Bearcats return 7 State Qualifiers and 5 State Placers, and should be amongst those to push the Patriots come February.
Columbus and Coach Kieswetter return some of Class A’s top individual firepower, and certainly one of the states top wrestlers any age any class in 2 time State Champ Colton Wolfe, who appears to be a 220 pounder this season, and should finish as one of Nebraska’s top 3 time State Champs ever, with another undefeated season likely. Columbus returns 6 State Qualifiers and 4 State Medalists, and should be right near the top all season.
Omaha Burke with veteran Coach Wes Boehm never rebuilds, just reloads, and always can be counted on to be one of Class a’s best squads, with two of the States best wrestlers at any weight, any class, in classy Joey Harrison – the best pound for pound wrestler in Nebraska in my opinion, and a great kid with a super attitude. James Burks continues his quest to be a 4 time State Champ, and may well do so. Burke has 6 returning State Qualifiers, but only those two State Medalists, although another Burks is a FR stud I hear.
The rest of the top 10 teams are headed by Lincoln Southwest, with 5 returning State Qualifiers, and 3 medalists. I hear reports this could be Coach Aaron Finley’s best squad in his tenure at LSW. Finley is another class act as a coach and molder of young men.
The bottom half of the Top 10 features a close bunching of Millard North, with super tough returning Champ at 160 DJ Coleman, expected to easily defend his title. Lincoln East has 8 returning State Qualifiers, among the leaders in Class A, although no returning State Medalists. I hear LE Maxx Mayfield may be the best FR in the entire state. Papillion LaVista, with new Head Coach Chris Curry, looks to stay in Class A’s elite, with 5 returning State Qualifiers. My squad, Bellevue East, had a surprising run last season, and has 9 returning State Qualifiers, but…3 currently are not starting due to growth, and we must develop more top end wrestlers who can medal in Omaha.
All in all, it should be another great season on the mats, with some super Frosh coming in that are certain to make waves. We shall see how the season unfolds!
Class A Top 10 Teams DUALS/Preseason
3.) Millard South
4.) Millard West
5.) Lincoln SW
6.) Omaha Burke
7.) Bellevue East
9.) Lincoln East
10.) Grand Island
Rater: Doug Denson
State Dual Preseason Picks:
A-2: Millard South, Lincoln East, Bellevue East
A-3: Columbus, Lincoln SW
A-4: Omaha Burke, Millard West. Papillion LaVista
The preseason rankings, as everyone expects, pretty much is built upon conjecture. There are, however, a few criteria to consider in putting together the list of teams that could end up in Kearney at the end of the year.
First and foremost, we cannot forget that the top 8 teams will come out of the district criteria or formula. While it is possible to get 4 out of one district, it’s quite unlikely. Last year, had Papillion-LaVista fielded one more wrestler in their lineup (10 points), they would have been the 4th qualifier in their district. As is, three is about the limit for any one district. It would be hard to rate any team buried deep in districts with little to no chance to get to the state duals.
The second factor to consider is the district serpentine. While returning state points isn’t the greatest measure of overall team depth (especially in dual competition), it does point toward teams who have the most firepower returning. It also points toward the teams who might emerge from their district as an automatic qualifier.
A third factor or group of factors to consider is kind of the x factor. This would include things like overall team depth over time as well as coaches and teams who take dual wrestling seriously. Quality dual teams usually come from programs where the numbers are solid; no team can take hits for open weights in class A and be in the hunt. Quality dual teams also emerge from programs where the coach puts time and effort into winning duals.
So what does that mean in 2016-17? Well Kearney emerges as the favorite to win the title this season. The Bearcats return the most points in the serpentine system which means they have firepower. Secondly, they are a team with a lot of depth. Typically, Kearney has one of the bigger squads in the state and depth like that is key to winning any dual championship. The Bearcats also have an amazing coaching staff; Coach Swarm and the rest of the coaches do their homework and know how to create the best chance to win a dual!
Columbus emerges at the 2nd ranked team in preseason. The Discoverers nearly toppled Millard South in the semi’s of the 2016 state duals and has shown steady improvement throughout the year. This year’s team has nearly the same amount of serpentine points as Millard South; what may push Columbus above the Patriots could be the upper weights where the Discoverers have plenty of firepower. In the top three weights alone, Columbus could go 3 for 3 in state champions. Coach Keiswetter is a tremendous motivator who knows how to get the most out of his team. A road trip mid year brings the Patriots to Columbus for what could be a premier match-up. Toughest place in class A to wrestle a dual? Columbus!
Some people might be inclined to put the Patriots of Millard South at no. 1 until they get beat and there might be some justification to that logic. As is, though, the Patriots won’t have as much dual firepower as they have had in the past. Lacking firepower in the upper weights hasn’t been a problem for the Patriots in the past, but this year the team will have to develop talent at the top end of the lineup. If Millard South has any chance to maintain the current win streak, they will have to be firing on all cylinders in the middle weights and they will have to stay healthy. These top 3 teams should likely be automatic qualifiers from their districts in February.
Millard West is an up and coming program who will be in the thick of things throughout the year and should be a top 5 team in February. Coach Townsley has been quietly stockpiling talent over the last couple of years. This could be the year to unleash the Wildcat! A 6th place finish a year ago will seem like the distant past as this team creates a new future. What makes the Wildcats a great dual team is that they have firepower up and down the lineup. The Wildcats have quality in the lower weights and quality in the upper weights. To be them, teams will have to win key matchups. Look for Millard West to go head to head with Millard South in December at Millard South for one of the better duals of the year.
Lincoln Southwest has maybe their best dual squad ever coming into 2016-17. Coach Finley has the depth, the experience, and the know-how to put his team in serious contention this season. Like Millard West, Southwest has the type of balanced team that creates matchup problems for other teams. Southwest comes out of that A-3 district with Columbus so there are definitely at least two teams who should sail out of this district. Upper weights for Southwest make them a real good mirror to Columbus.
Burke is the type of team that simply “reloads!” Coach Boehm knows how to put together quality teams up and down the lineup. Having won the state duals before, he knows what it takes and will have the team to battle right in the mix. Burke comes out of a super tough district which also features Millard West and Papillion LaVista. In A-4 you might also be able to consider a 4th team as a possibility, but it simply isn’t going to happen with the depth in this district. When you look at these top 3 teams, though, you might see the toughest district in the state. Will these guys beat each other up trying to win? Definitely stay tuned. Papillion LaVista will come in at no. 8 as the Monarchs have some tremendous power in the lower weights. The Monarchs will have to break in a third head coach in three seasons so factoring in coaching might be a question mark early on. Coach Curry, though, is one of those coaches who will have the team ready. Look for the tradition rich Monarchs to battle tough in A-4 for a chance to get to the state duals.
Bellevue East and Lincoln East come out of the A-2 Millard South District. Bellevue East and Coach Porter bring back the experience of getting to the state duals a year ago. The Chieftains return 9 state qualifiers and a very solid dual lineup. This team might not have top end individual points, but they do have the strength in numbers. Bellevue East will put a quality wrestler on the mat in every weight class. It’s a bit unknown as to where Lincoln East fits into the puzzle. These guys have two of the state’s best coaches in Jeff Rutledge and Keenan McCurdy. Both guys wrestled on during the three-peat years of Lincoln East wrestling and both were All Americans on some of the best UNK teams ever. These two will be reshaping wrestling in the Lincoln area and in class A over the next few years. Now, do they have enough firepower to serve up dual wins? I wouldn’t bet against them.
Grand Island rounds out the top 10 and should vie for a third slot from their district. Little is known about the dual strength of this team, but with a savvy coach in Coach Morrison (also a member of the LE and UNK elite teams), and the overall tradition at Grand Island, the Islanders get a slight nod over teams like Lincoln Southeast, who could also crack the top 10 as the season gets underway.