|Huskermat.com 2016 Year in Review|
The Top 10 Nebraska Stories of the 2016 Calendar Year
10.) Nichelson Places at Ironman
Ashland-Greenwood Senior Trevor Nichelson became the 4th Nebraska wrestler to place at the prestigious Ironman tournament in early December. The 2x state champion senior, reached the quarterfinals before falling to Ohio's JT Brown. He would battle back and lose to Brown again in the 5th place match. Nichelson, who signed to wrestle for Nebraska, joined graduated Colton Adams, JaVaughn Perkins and Doyle Trout as prior placers at the toughest in-season HS tournament in the country.
9.) Deloa Wins Four
Millard South's Isaac Deloa became the 26th wrestler in Nebraska history to win 4 individual state championships. Deloa downed Lincoln Southeast senior Jon Killingsworth 4-0 in the final match of the 2016 state tournament in Omaha in February. It was the most hyped match of the wrestling season and Deloa controlled Killingsworth from the start to cap off a brilliant high school career. Juniors Korbin Meink from Skutt and Christian Miller from Plainview continued their quests for four titles by cruising to their third individual championships.
8.) Burroughs and Dlagnev at the Olympics
Jordan Burroughs and Tervel Dlagnev once again represented Nebraska at the 2016 Rio Olympics. It was a definite disappointment for Burroughs who lost to Russia's Geduev and then to Abdurahkmanov of Uzbekistan in the repechage to remove him from medal contention. Former UNK Loper Dlagnev reached the Olympic semifinals before losing to Ghasemi of Iran and eventually finished 5th. It was the final match of a great career for Dlagnev who wrestled through the Olympic Trials and the Olympics with a back injury.
7.) State Team Titles Captured
Millard South claimed their 2nd straight Class A state title. Skutt edged Plattsmouth to win it's 18th Class B championship in the last 19 years. David City captured their 2nd state title in the last three years and Amherst continued their dominant record-setting run in Class D by winning their 7th straight championship. Millard South, David City and Amherst also followed up Individual team titles with state dual championships the following week in Kearney, while Plattsmouth turned the tables on Omaha Skutt to become the first Class B team other than the Skyhawks to win a state duals crown. It was the swan song for Amherst Head Coach Tyler Herman who stepped down as Head Coach to take an administrative job at Kearney High School.
6.) Harrison places at Super 32
Burke's Joey Harrison followed up a runner-up performance in the Junior Greco Nationals in Fargo with a 6th place finish at the Super 32 tournament in the fall. Harrison became the first Nebraska wrestler to reach the semifinals of what is the toughest in or out of season high school wrestling tournament in the nation. He also became just the 2nd Nebraska wrestler to place at the S32, following Colton Adams of Scottsbluff in 2013. Harrison dropped a semifinal match to national #1 Adam Busiello of New York and then defaulted out of the tournament due to injury. Skutt's Korbin Meink fell just short of a placement, missing the medal round by one match at 120.
5.) Huskers in the NCAA
Nebraska finished 8th in the NCAA championships in St. Louis in March and had 3 individual All-Americans with national runner-up TJ Dudley at 184; 5th place finisher Eric Montoya at 133; and Nebraska native Austin Wilson 7th at 165. Wilson, formerly of Hastings St. Cecilia, was a four-year starter for Nebraska and qualified for the NCAA tournament every year of his career.
4.) Former Bennington Badgers Fly High
Former Bennington standouts Steve Costanzo and Brett Velasquez propelled St. Cloud State to an NCAA DII championship in March in Sioux Falls SD. Head Coach Costanzo led the Huskies to their second consecutive national title and second NCAA championship in any sport for St. Cloud. He was also named the NWCA Coach of the Year for 2016. Redshirt freshman Brett Velasquez capped off a storybook season ending run, becoming the school's sixth NCAA individual champion and 16th overall (NCAA and NAIA combined). Velasquez had to beat teammate Tim Prescott, the defending national champion, just to crack the lineup. UNK finished 3rd while Maryville, led by former UNO Head Coach Mike Denney, finished 5th.
3.) Zach Borer
North Bend freshman Zach Borer put together one of the most remarkable seasons in state history, winning an individual state title for the Tigers at 160 in Class C and finishing a remarkable 60-1 during his 9th grade year. Borer's only loss on the season was a late season setback to eventual Class B state champion Marcus Dodson of Columbus Scotus. Borer's 60 wins set a new all-class single season record. He joined Omaha Burke's James Burks and Pleasanton's Tyler Pawloski as freshmen state champions in Nebraska.
2.) Match of the Year
It was a typical mid-January Saturday morning when I got an unexpected message that Omaha Burke standout freshman James Burks was going to bump up weight classes at the Burke Invite to challenge Millard South's standout Isaac Deloa at 138. The match immediately became the talk of all-Nebraska and it more than lived up the hype. The match was a testament to the power of the new and popular live video streaming capability of Periscope. More than 500 live viewers tuned in my Periscope feed to watch one of the wildest and most bizarre matches in recent history. The match saw a back and forth exchange of points throughout with Deloa taking numerous injury timeouts before eventually holding on to defeat the talented freshman. It was one of the most supercharged fan environments I can remember and I walked out of the gym wondering what the heck I just witnessed.
1.) Bauer Steps Down
Marc Bauer, who had been Head Coach at UNK since the 1999-2000 season, announced he was stepping down in April to pursue a doctorate degree at Creighton. Bauer had led the Lopers to three NCAA national championships, five runner-up finishes and 14 regional and conference championships. Assistant coach Dalton Jensen, a native of Missouri Valley IA, was named Head Coach for UNK.
Hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year and a blessed 2017!