44 wrestlers from 15 area high schools will be competing Thursday through Saturday at the NSAA State Wrestling Championships at the CHI Health Center in Omaha.
The first session begins at 9:30 a.m. Thursday with first-round matches for Classes A and D. Quarterfinals will follow.
In Classes B and C, first-round action begins at 4 p.m. with quarterfinals to follow. Semifinals are Friday, with the championship matches beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday. A full schedule can be viewed here.
Here’s a quick glance at the top wrestlers I’m watching closely from the Ol’ Red 99.5 listening area:
In Class B at 120 pounds, Beatrice sophomore Drew Arnold. Ranked No. 2 in the state in his weight class, he faces Brock Little of North Platte to lead things off. Arnold is 33-4 on the year and placed 5th at state last year.
Staying in Class B at 170 pounds, Fairbury’s Ace York. Ranked No. 3 in the state in weight class, the senior has a tough task to lead things off, going up against Seward’s Brogan Fehlhafer, who’s ranked No. 4 in the state. York is 42-8 on the season. Fehlhaferis 28-12.
Staying in Class B and staying in Fairbury, senior Seth Firmanik has been dominant this season. Ranked No. 3 in the state at 182 pounds, and with a record of 38-6, Firmanik faces Isaac Martinez of Omaha Gross Catholic (18-17) in the first round. Firmanik medaled 5th last year – the only returning Jeff who medaled at state in 2018.
Moving onto Class C in the 285 pound class, Fillmore Central’s Riley Moses is the odds-on favorite to win this year. Ranked No. 1 in his weight class through most of the season, the Husker Football walk-on is 40-2 on the year. If Moses beats Keegan Weiss of Mitchell (23-10) in the first round, there’s a good chance he’ll face No. 2 ranked Justyn Hale of Oakland-Craig (39-8()in the quarterfinals. Moses medaled third last year.
In Class D at 113 pounds, watch for Thayer Central’s Brenner McLaughlin. Ranked No. 4 in his weight class, the freshman took 2nd at districts last weekend and boasts a 30-5 record. He’ll face Kaiden Mrsny of Pender (34-7) to lead off.
Staying in Class D and staying with Thayer Central, senior Keegan Casey is primed to take home the gold at 126 pounds after finishing runner-up at state last year. Ranking No. 4 in his weight class and boasting a 32-5 record, Casey faces Hunter Deeds of North Platte St. Patrick’s (29-11) to lead off.
The Titans placed runner-up at districts last Saturday and qualified seven wrestlers for state – the most of any school in our listening area.
Moving on in Class D to 182 pounds, Friend’s lone qualifier is a good one. Edwen Baptista is back after placing 3rd a year ago. Ranked No. 3 in his weight class, Baptista goes up against sophomore Brandon Beeson of Tri County (33-14) to lead off.
Ol’ Red 99.5 and KWBE will air full updates every hour from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.
Full results from Thursday will be posted once all area athletes have competed.
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @Tommy_NCN.