Huskermat.com 2011-12 Season Opening Remarks
Welcome to the start of the 2011-12 scholastic and collegiate wrestling season. With the prep football season winding down for most teams across the state of Nebraska and the beginning of winter sports practices only a few weeks away, it's time to dust off the website and start breaking down the exciting season to come.
It's hard to believe it's been over 10 years since Huskermat.com came into existence but we continue to follow the business model that made us a smash hit with wrestlers and fans across the state. Many changes have taken place in that time, especially in terms of technology and communications. We now have live streaming audio and video of matches. Twitter and Facebook are dominating the landscape and allowing us to express opinions and results instantaneously.
The landscape of HS wrestling in the state has also changed drastically. Many schools are moving out of their traditional comfort zone to seek new and different competition both in and out of state. Off-season wrestling is almost a requirement to succeed at the highest level in Nebraska. Several top talents in the state are coming off impressive performances at the prestigious Cadet/Jr National championships in Fargo over the summer. Iowa committment Thomas Gilman raised the bar even further by earning a spot on the World Cadet Freestyle team that competed in Hungary in late August. To my knowledge, no Nebraska scholastic wrestler has ever competed in this tournament although it was inactive since 1999.
Others competed well at tournaments like Disney Duals-Andy Janovich of Gretna defeated a graduated state-runner up from Pennsylvania who is wrestling on scholarship at Harvard this fall. Currently, the pre-season tournaments are in full swing with the USA Preseason Nationals taking place this weekend in Cedar Falls and Monster Match the following week in Colorado. Already we've had some great individual performances at Fall Brawl and the JJ Intermat Classic in Minnesota last weekend.
Familar faces have also come and gone during the past decade. Just this past year we lost two great assets to wrestling in the state. One crazy night in March was all it took for the powerhouse DII program at UNO to be eliminated and then largely transported to Maryville University in St. Louis. We also lost a dear friend in Mike Fleshman aka Red Rocker who succumbed to his battle with cancer in the spring. Mike was an integral part of Huskermat from inception, acting as a moderator for the forum and a great ambassador for our sport. His presence will most surely be missed and become even more noticable as the season gets underway. I put such great faith in Red Rocker to help out with the site that I have yet to even attempt to fill his shoes. Hopefully, we can all moderate the message board to keep it a valuable place to exchange ideas and share information. Rocker would have wanted that.
It wasn't all bad news during the offseason though. The NSAA approved a state dual tournament, which will likely begin in the 2012-13 calendar year. In my opinion, the more wrestling the better and the addition of this event will usher in a new era of wrestling in the state.
University of Nebraska's Jordan Burroughs not only won an NCAA championship but he went on to win a world freestyle championship in the early fall!, becoming the first American to win a world championship since 2006.
Once again, just for those unfamiliar with Huskermat let me provide a high-level overview of what this website is about. We provide a unique insight and analysis into Nebraska wrestling-essentially information that you cannot get from any other source. Huskermat provides predictions, analysis and insight into the pulse of Nebraska HS wrestling. It's not about stories that you read in any media outlet. With the Huskermat Insiders you get access to exclusive features such as our state ratings, all-class power ratings and previews and recaps during the season. You also get access to the Nebraska Wrestling Forecast which projects the winners of each weight at the state tournament. You're also getting years of experience in covering our great sport-there's no question Huskermat has become an essential staple not only because of the service we provide but because of the information that is sent and relayed-we are a hub of information from parents, coaches and wrestlers that allows us to survey the landscape better than ANYONE in the state and work harder than anyone else to bring you the kind of insight you desire.
Huskermat will also return to the free popular weekly webcast shows with Coach Doug Denson. Due to some incredibly unusual personal circumstances, we did not finish the show out last year. Not only did Coach Denson's house burn down in December but a school shooting a few short weeks later at Millard South made it extremely tough to move forward with our broadcasting. We did however, provide wall-to-wall broadcast coverage of the state tournament in Omaha.
During the next few weeks, we will provide the usual preseason prognostication, including our annual Elite 30 lists for the grade levels; class by class analysis and predictions and other information to help you get ready for the season. As a precursor to these stories, which are available to Huskermat Insiders, I have listed some of the top storylines that should emerge for the upcoming season below. Hopefully, this gets you ready for what should be another wild and crazy year:
-Grand Island's quest for 300. Even though the Islanders lost Marcus Peterson who moved to Iowa and Blake Fruchtl who is now at Grand Island NW, this may be the state's most complete team ever assembled. If the weights come together, there's a chance the powerhouse Islanders could hit 300 points at the state tournament in February.
-Thomas Gilman of Skutt, Andrew Riedy of Grand Island and Eric Coufal of Howells will all seek their 4th state title. Coufal will seek to become a rare 4x unbeaten state champion. Several others, including Tyler Nation of Scottsbluff, Carlos Rodriguez of Grand Island, Mike Shoff of Cambridge and Connor Bolling of Central City will be looking to become 3x state champions.
-Can Skutt climb back to the top of Class B after being derailed by Central City last February? Word I've gotten is that workouts have had extra intensity this offseason with the words Central City used often. You can bet this proud program will be back with a renewed vigor and drive after failing to claim a state championship for the first time since 1998.
-How will two of Nebraska's finest wrestlers fare at the prestigious Walsh Ironman in Ohio in December? For the first time in history, Nebraska will have two wrestlers-Colton Adams and Tyler Nation of Scottsbluff-compete in the hands-down toughest in-season HS tournament in the United States. Yours truly will be on hand to cover this exciting event.
-How wild will the Class C state team race be this season? With Syracuse up to B, it appears Madison and Sargent/Burwell should be early contenders.
-Can Amherst continue their dominant run in Class D?
-Who are the state's top incoming freshmen of impact? I've already got my top freshman set in stone but will he even be in the varsity lineup?
Make sure you give us a follow on Twitter and a like on the new Facebook page. We use these sites extensively during the season to communiate and relay results. It's also helpful if you'll continue to communicate with us via those mediums and also through email. The addresses are listed below.
Twitter: @huskermat or twitter.com/huskermat
You can sign up for Insiders on the front page of Huskermat.com. For those renewing their subscriptions you can renew at any time by simply purchasing another subscription. An additional 12 months will be added to your existing Insiders membership.
I'd like to thank everyone who has helped make Huskermat THE resource and hub for information (we are the Chris Mortensen/John Clayton of Nebraska wrestling!). When you sign up for Insiders, you are not only getting a great service but you're giving back to the wrestling community by helping us cover our costs to continue running our own little corner of the web. I look forward to making more friends and meeting more of you this season as I travel throughout the state watching competition. Again, welcome to the season!