Season Opening Remarks 2013-14
Good Sunday everyone! I hope late October finds you in good spirits and good health as we begin another magical journey that will end in February with individual and team championships as the final goal. As I sit in the airport, awaiting my flight back to Omaha, I wanted to put together my annual opening comments for the upcoming season. Many of you are nearing the end of the scholastic football season but with preseason tournaments well underway and college practices beginning, this is GO time for many wrestlers and of course, for Huskermat.com. Already this fall, national preseason tournaments have taken place with the Michigan Grappler Classic and the Fall Brawl in KC. The next two weekends will see many Nebraska wrestlers go to USA Preseason Nationals in Cedar Falls IA and the mega-Super 32 tournament in North Carolina, which will be attended by Nebraska standouts Colton Adams of Scottsbluff and Doyle Trout of Centennial. Several will also compete in the Intermat JJ Classic in Minnesota and Monster Match and Bighorn tournies in Colorado.
It's been a busy offseason with various storylines that affect our sport. In early September, wrestling was reinstated as a core sport by the IOC, after being dropped from the program in the spring. Many of you understand how critical this was to our sport at all levels. Had wrestling been eliminated from the 2020 games, it would have given administrators at all levels another excuse to put us on the chopping block. September 8th may have been the most important date in the history of the sport and while we survived as an Olympic event, the battle is far from over as we will continue to fight attempts to cut programs at all levels. Of course, we had to change the rules for the international competition-I will be interested to see how that affects our scholastic folkstyle competition in any ways going forward.
Several weeks later, Jordan Burroughs cemented himself as the best wrestler on the planet with an extraordinary performance at the World Championships, winning another international event despite wrestling with 5 screws and a metal plate due to a broken ankle suffered just prior to Worlds. Having followed this sport long enough, what Burroughs is accomplishing right now is a once in a lifetime scenario for a wrestler from the USA. The United States has had former world champions and Olympic medalists but nobody in recent memory has been this dominant on the global scale. We are incredibly fortunate to have the best wrestler on the planet training and practicing in our own backyard in Nebraska. And we couldn't have a better role model and mentor for our wrestlers to look up to and strive to be like. We also can't forget UNK alum Tervel Dlagnev who once again represented the United States and finished 5th in Budapest. We are simply blessed to have two of the finest in the world with direct ties to Nebraska.
As we look ahead to the upcoming scholastic prep season several storylines should dominate the HS landscape. Can Grand Island hold off the likes of Omaha North and Millard South to win an unprecedented 6th straight Class A team title? Omaha Skutt looks like they will again be a safe bet in Class B with Scottsbluff and Lexington the top challengers to the Skyhawks. After finishing runner-up in C a year ago, can O'Neill get their first state team title in school history? Amherst is in the midst of one of the great small-school runs in state history and should be an overwhelming favorite in Class D. Could this also be the last year for regional districts for classes B, C and D? From the grapevine, I hear a proposal to serpentine those districts as they do in Class A may be submitted to the NSAA in November. This would obviously create more travel but make parity in the districts a reality. It would be quite a change to see, for example, Scottsbluff travel to Boys Town for a district tournament but that may be the reality for our sport going forward.
We are poised to see a historic year of achievements from a senior class that ranks as one of the best in state history. An amazing 5 wrestlers will vie for their 4th straight state championship: Colton Adams of Scottsbluff; JaVaughn Perkins of Omaha North; Will Schany of Blair; Brett Velasquez of Bennington and Jacob Sebade of Pender. Dante Rodriguez now at Kearney HS and Harrison Phillips of Millard West will each seek their 3rd state championship, along with Centennial junior Doyle Trout. Adams has committed to Mark Manning and the University of Nebraska and will break the career wins record held by now Husker Austin Wilson, sometime in mid-January. He is also closing in on several other state career records, including pins. Perkins, Schany and Phillips all displayed their talents on the same weekend in March at national tournaments on the East Coast. Perkins won the tough FloNationals title and Schany, now committed to Virginia, won a Jr Title at the NHSCA in Virginia Beach. Phillips also brought home a Jr Title at Virginia Beach but has chosen to accept a football scholarship offer from Stanford. Both Adams and Perkins will compete in the prestigious Ironman tournament in Ohio the 2nd week of December, along with Doyle Trout of Centennial and Jacobi Jones of Omaha North. Who would thought we'd ever get to the day where four Nebraska wrestlers would be competing in the toughest HS in-season tournament in the country! I hope it's a sign of things to come-where our best kids in the state choose to compete at the top venues.
I continue to be amazed at the training and dedication level our athletes have in this state. The amount of offseason work and training opportunities are greater than at anytime in our state's history.
When I started this venture nearly 15 years ago, it would be hard to imagine what Huskermat and more importantly, our sport has evolved into. There are literally no gaps in communication and results are instantaneously posted via the growing social media network. Trackwrestling dominates our results landscape and streaming video of our local and national tournaments is available with almost every competition. Last season while sitting in a hotel room in South Carolina, I watched opening night duals featuring Omaha Skutt and Grand Island-at the same time! The direct access to athletes is something that has changed dramatically in the past. I have the utmost respect for our student-athletes and communicating with them has made my job even more rewarding than in the past.
While Huskermat is primarily devoted to coverage of HS wrestling in the state, we can't forget about the great college programs in Lincoln, Kearney, Chadron, Fremont, York, Hastings and Seward. Coach Brett Hunter has Chadron going in the right direction and I expect very good things from the Eagles in the near future. Marc Bauer at Nebraska-Kearney is obviously one of the premier coaches in our sport at any level.
And the Huskers look poised for a big season with the likes of Robert Kokesh, Austin Wilson, James Green, Jake Sueflohn/Destin McAuley, Caleb Kolb and Pat Downey all in the mix for AA honors. From what I gather, Pat Downey looks like he could be the next mega-star for Nebraska and Husker fans should be very excited to watch him compete.
If you don't follow us on Twitter, you are simply missing out. Twitter has nearly replaced the static old form message boards although the forums at huskermat.hoop.la are still active. Our Twitter family has grown to over 2000+ followers and it is my primary venue for distributing information and links. You can follow on Twitter by going to twitter.com/huskermat or finding me via the @huskermat handle. We will again be using the #nebwrestle hashtag for a central location for results throughout the year.
As we've done for the past 10 years, we will again offer our Premium Insider service, which gets you paid access to a variety of features that you won't find from any other media outlet in the state. And as in the past 10 years, we will have the same price for a 12 month subscription. Some of the features you'll get with the Insiders are listed below:
-Preseason State Championship Selections
-Elite 30 Wrestler Lists
-State Team and Individual Ratings
-Huskermat Power Ratings
-State Tournament Forecast
-Past Season Archives
-Other Features and Inside Information
And with this business model that is also followed by other websites like Flowrestling, Intermat, WrestlingUSA etc., your subscription ensures that we will continue to have our little corner of the world dedicated to Nebraska wrestling. I pride myself as being the "Go-To" person for analysis and insight in this state and offer a unique perspective that is a culmination of 25 years of following wrestling in our state. I appreciate the very loyal followers that have been with Huskermat since inception and those that continue to renew on an annual basis.
If you are already a paid subscriber and want to renew you can simply sign up at anytime as if you were beginning a new subscription. 12 months will automatically be added to your expiration date. And the great thing is, you can keep your password. You can pay directly through Paypal at this Link.
Something VERY important is to check your spam filter if you aren't receiving your email and password. I am finding more and more are having their information go to spam so if you paid but haven't received a response within 10 minutes check the spam filter (and also make sure you've entered the correct email on your Paypal subscription form).
I would also ask you to thank our sponsors and partners that help keep us afloat as well: Nebraska USA Wrestling, Huskerland/AAU, Ken Chertow, NSWCA and UNK/Midwest Classic. And if you're ever interested in getting your message out, contact us and I'd be glad to discuss options.
For the coaches, I will be sending out preseason forms within the next few weeks so let me know if you don't receive one, so I can include you in our preview.
Really looking forward to serving the wrestling community again this year. I've always stated I will continue to provide analysis and insight as long as it's fun and as long as the state still has a place for me. Now...it's time to go to work for you! Look for preseason articles to start being posted on the site starting immediately after the Super32 next weekend.
I'll see you on the mats. Have a great season!
And for our friend the Honeybadger (@StriveForGold2x) from Beatrice, Go Cowboys!