|Season Opening Remarks 2017-18|
Greetings wrestling fans, coaches and competitors. As has been a tradition in recent years, I begin the scholastic season of high school wrestling in Nebraska with some thoughts and comments related to the beginning of our annual season of coverage. Huskermat.com, started in 1999, is back for our 18th year of entertainment and analysis that carries us through the wild ride to the conclusion of the season in late February.
It's been less of an "offseason" for me personally, as I helped assemble teams of wrestlers that competed in the Rocky Mountain National Duals in Colorado in March and then immediately began a three-month process of writing a memoir of sorts. My book "Matsider," which was released in June of this year on Amazon.com, chronicles my own personal history with the sport and involvement as a wrestling analyst throughout the years, along with documenting some of the all-time great moments and wrestlers in our state's long history. It was a project I had wanted to complete for several years and it seemed like the opportune time to write about the history of our sport in Nebraska. If you haven't had a chance to purchase, you can find a link on the front page of the site at huskermat.com or go to Amazon and search for the title Matsider. I might be biased but I think it's a great read for anyone who wants to know what I do and also why I do what I do. Plus, it will give you a great appreciation of some of the best moments and competitors in Nebraska lore. The book is available in both paperback and e-book format and has gotten some very positive reviews from coaches and fans from across our state. I'll even sign your book if you request, as a few have asked!
I also started an offshoot platform (@nenexxt on Twitter) with more involvement in analysis of football in Nebraska, specifically the Jr High and freshmen levels of competition, where there really is an untapped market as far as any type of coverage or analysis. It's similar but different than wrestling but it is much like when I started Huskermat years ago, in terms of how it gets built. It's been a great fall and I am still finishing out the last few weeks of football while simultaneously kicking off Huskermat's month of preseason features. I have no idea where that venture will eventually lead me but it has opened up more contacts and allows me to network to a new fan base so stay tuned on that one. I will also have the 2nd annual Huskermat All State Football/Wrestler Team which will be released at the conclusion of the scholastic football season in a few weeks. If you want to nominate a wrestler, please send an email. At this time I have over 100 names that I've accumulated through my own involvement with football this fall.
I have also changed up my Twitter account headline, which used to use the term "coverage." Indeed, some of what I do might be considered coverage but I now believe that I'm more of a historian in regards to the sport, rather than an actual reporter, so hopefully it is a more accurate reflection of how my role with wrestling has changed. There's more coverage than we've ever seen with our sport before with social media dominance so I'll keep providing an entertainment outlet that promotes the wrestlers and celebrates their successes. And hopefully gives you some quality insight and predictions.
It was a great offseason of successes for many in Nebraska. The incomparable Jordan Burroughs captured another World Championship while former Husker James Green brought home a world silver medal in France. Former Skutt standout Thomas Gilman also earned a world runner-up, after an amazing run through the World Team Trials held in Lincoln in June. Kearney junior Phillip Moomey became the first native Nebraskan since 2009 to bring home a stop sign national title from Fargo, when he won the Cadet National Greco championships in July. Several other wrestlers earned placement at that prestigious event, including Burke sophomore-to-be Jakason Burks, who also placed at the Super 32 challenge last weekend.
It promises to be another fantastic season ahead from both individual and team race competition standpoints. As we finish up the last preseason competition this weekend with tournaments in Kearney and Colorado, it gives one last opportunity to analyze the competitors before the official season gets going exactly one month from today. Sidney senior Derek Robb will seek his fourth state championship, so will Max Hughes of Syracuse; while North Platte St. Pats senior Cameron Riggs will look to not only join the ranks of the elite 4x state champions, but become one of the few in Nebraska history that never lost a match during their high school careers. Pleasanton junior Tyler Pawloski will seek his 3rd state championship while Skutt sophomore Caleb Lazure looks to repeat and stay on track for four titles. A quick glance of where some top matches might happen in February, makes me look right in the lower and middle weights in Class A, where there could be some of the most memorable match-ups in recent years. Another strong group of freshmen across the state should make an immediate impact this season-especially in the lower weights where several made their mark with placements at the Cadet National championships in Fargo in July.
Powerhouse Gretna changes classes and with a dominant group of seniors, should be a serious challenger in Class A to the likes of Kearney, Lincoln East and Millard South. With the Dragons out of the mix, Omaha Skutt appears to be a strong favorite in Class B, while Valentine in Class C may actually be better than their record-setting squad they fielded a season ago. A change of the guard in Class D happened last season with Burwell eclipsing Amherst and the Longhorns and Broncos will both be contenders in a competitive Class D. The state dual championships will remain in Kearney one final year before they get a makeover in terms of format and locale in the 2018-19 season.
Of course, our college season officially gets kicked off this weekend with our represented schools at the University of Nebraska, UNK, Chadron, Hastings, York, Concordia and Midland all beginning the grind towards the national championships in March.
As usual, our premium content will focus largely on high school competition with the annual grade rankings and analysis, Huskermat Big Board, preseason previews and rankings, in-season rankings, Huskermat Power Ratings, weekly notebook, weekend previews and district and state tournament predictions. If the past is any indicator you can look for close to 50 premium-content features throughout the season and the enrollment/renewal price is still $24.95 for 12 months, as it has been since 2003. Renewals information can be found on www.huskermat.com under the Huskermat Headlines section. Also please make sure to check your spam filter for confirmation and password information!
If you aren't already, please follow my Twitter account @huskermat as it's my primary communication method for the next 4 months and as I post up new content on the site, I always send a link through Twitter. Our Twitter account has approximately 7000 followers and growing so it's an essential medium if you want to stay connected. Also, we will begin our weekly (or more) episodes of our wildly popular Big Mat Show within the next few weeks, as we get you ready for the season. Last year was full of great shows that featured various coaches and wrestlers throughout the state. Former Millard South Head Coach Doug Denson and I will again be co-hosting the show which you can find on our account at https://www.spreaker.com/user/huskermat. You can also download the Spreaker app so you can listen live or on-demand.
We'll kick off our coverage on Sunday of this week, with our annual Elite 30 Senior List (you won't want to miss this one) which I've pondered since the season ended last year.
Lastly, if you ever need to contact me, you can find me on Twitter or you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Ready. Set. Go. Welcome to the grind and we'll see you all on the mat in no time. I look forward to serving you throughout the exciting season ahead!
Blair, NE USA