2012-13 Season Opening Remarks
Even though we're still a little over a month away from the start of the 2012-13 season, wrestling is in full swing for many of us and today marks the official start of the Huskermat coverage for the upcoming scholastic year. Many wrestlers are already competing in preseason tournaments, like the Fall Brawl held last weekend in Kansas City. We also have the highly prestigious USA Preseason Nationals in Cedar Falls on November 3rd and the Rocky Mountain Nationals the same week before HS team practices begin in mid-November.
When we last left off in February and the curtains came down on the 2011-12 season, it marked the end of one of the best senior classes in state history and the crowning of 4 state team champions: Grand Island captured a 4th straight championship in A; Omaha Skutt returned to the top of Class B after a one year hiatus; Valentine brought home a state wrestling championship for the first time since 1975; and Amherst outdueled Pender to earn their third state title in as many years.
Much has happened since mid-February concerning our state and state interests in wrestling. Nebraska college graduates Jordan Burroughs and Tervel Dlagnev both qualified to represent Team USA at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Burroughs continued his amazing run in international competition by capturing the Olympic Gold Medal at 74kg-a follow up to his 2011 FILA World Championship. Burroughs has established himself as the icon in our sport and the top wrestler regardless of weight, in the world. While Dlagnev didn't medal, he has established himself as the top young HWT in the country and should contend for a spot in Rio in 2016.
On a sadder note, we said goodbye to former Beatrice standout and Hastings College wrestler Brad Cusatis who was tragically killed in a train-car accident in September in Kansas. Rest in Peace young warrior.
This season has a number of interesting storylines to follow. Certainly our state is going to miss one of the best senior classes in state history. Gone are some all-time great standouts like top national recruit Thomas Gilman (Iowa); Andy Janovich (starting FB at Nebraska); Connor Bolling and Andrew Riedy (both UNK); Mike Shoff; and Jed Fenske and Eric Coufal (UNL). While the senior class of 2013 isn't top loaded like last year and no wrestler will be seeking a 4th state title, standouts like Jake Anderson, Ronald Wells, Jake Wilcoxen, Marcus Nelson and Hunter Bamford will look to finish their careers with 3 state titles.
Isn't it interesting that we could see several wrestlers listed above end up in the same weight classes? Just glancing at where some of the toughest weights in the state could be, I'm immediately drawn to Class C 152-160 and Class A 120-132.
At Kearney, a new era is ushered in with former UNK Coach Ty Swarm taking over the history-laden Bearcat Program, after Tom McCann and Dennis Miller retired at the end of last year.
It looks like a banner year for state team races with Omaha Burke, behind the state's best senior class, looking to knock Grand Island from the top of Class A for the first time in 4 seasons. Omaha Skutt looks strong in Class B and defending champion Valentine will have Central City and Madison to challenge in C. In Class D, we're seeing perhaps the state's hottest rivalry, between Amherst and Pender-by far the top two programs in the state's smallest class.
The strength of the state, no doubt, lies with the ultra-talented junior class, featuring top national collegiate prospects Colton Adams, JaVaughn Perkins, Will Schany and Dante Rodriguez, along with 2x state champions Brett Velasquez and Jacob Sebade of Pender. Amazingly, after crowining three 4x state champions a year ago, in another season we could be looking at an amazing 5 four-timers in the 2014 state tournament!
This season also ushers in a new era with the introduction of the long-desired NSAA state duals tournament, held at UNK the week after the individual finals. In, this observer's opinion, there's never too much wrestling and it should feature some incredible fireworks between the state's top programs.
As usual, Huskermat is back and better than ever, to provide you the state's only unique analysis and commentary on all the happenings throughout the season. Even though we're still 5 weeks away from the start of HS competition, the season begins now with the release of the annual Elite Wrestler lists, preseason class and team previews that take us up to the season.
Huskermat is very proud to offer these services for the annual subscription price of $24.95. This is the same price as a subscription cost in 2003, the first year of our Insiders pay-for-content model. You can't name one other product or service that costs the same as it did 10 years ago! You simply will not find the unique insight and perspective you will find on Huskermat. Throughout the season you'll get access to team and individual ratings, Huskermat Power Ratings (All-Class), weekly previews and notes, predictions, district forecasts and our state tournament preview and selections.
For renewals and new subscriptions you can go to www.huskermat.comand click the Huskermat Insiders logo on the upper right side. If you're an existing member and want to renew, you can pay through our secure Paypal portal and 12 months will automatically be added to your subscription, allowing you to continue to utilize the same login username (email) and password.
We've also continued to expand our social media presence and our new forum site with weekly chats introduced a year ago, has been well received by all. The main site of course is www.huskermat.combut our forums and chats are all located at huskermat.hoop.la.
Twitter continues to be the dominant medium for communication of results, news and sharing of information. How popular is Twitter right now? At this time a year ago, Huskermat had approximately 200 Twitter followers. As I type this we are nearing 800 and should surpass 1000 in a short time. We will also be using the hashtag #nebwrestle this season so make sure you follow at twitter.com/huskermat or @huskermat
Finally, you can listen to our weekly radio shows hosted by HB and Coach Doug Denson, along with live broadcasts, which is linked from the front page of huskermat.com.
And lastly, I would like to thank both our season sponsors and all the fans and wrestlers that continue to make covering HS wrestling in Nebraska as good as it gets. As I said on Twitter the other day, I consider you all my extended family. A new season is just around the corner and our sport has never been more popular or in better shape. Catch you later!
-Ross Halford (HB)