Nothing like a test right out of the gate.
When the wrestling season kicks off Thursday, two of the top teams — one each in Class B and Class C — will square off.
Madison, last year's runner-up in Class C, visits an Omaha Skutt team coming off its 14th Class B title in 15 years in a 7 p.m. duel.
“We told our kids, 'There's going to be a lot of people wanting to know how this duel turns out. Be excited about that. Be excited that you get to wrestle the premier wrestling program in our state,'” Madison coach Ken Loosvelt said.
Since 2008, Madison has finished in the top three each season, including titles in 2008 and 2010. Loosvelt credits the grind his team goes through during the regular season for its postseason success.
“One of our reasons that we feel like we've been so successful is because of our schedule,” Loosvelt said. “That's really helped us with our kids when it comes to the end of the year.”
Both teams bring back three medalists from a season ago. The Dragons' Blake Eisenmann is the only champion in that group.
Skutt coach Brad Hildebrandt said his group, which lost two champions and a runner-up from last year's title team, is looking forward to the early challenge.
“I think we have everybody in place early here,” Hildebrandt said. “We should be well-balanced.”
Swarm set for debut
For the first time in more than four decades, there will be a new coach at the helm of Kearney wrestling.
New Bearcats head coach Ty Swarm takes over for the departing Tom McCann, the head coach at Kearney for the past 45 years.
Swarm is a 2001 graduate of UNK and was an assistant there for the past 10 years.
His first experience on the bench at the high school level will come at this weekend's Kearney Invitational.
“I'm excited to get things going,” Swarm said.
Swarm inherits one of the state's top programs. The Bearcats won the 1998 state team title and have been in the top three in four of the past five seasons.
With all of that success comes a bit of expectations, Swarm said.
“But to be honest,” Swarm said, “if I would have gone to a place where there wouldn't have been those expectations, I wouldn't have been in the right place.“
Swarm said Saturday's finals should kick off around 4 p.m. Every match will be webcast at www.kearneywrestling.com.
Tough bout looming?
The two biggest names at the biggest tournament in the Omaha area this weekend could end up in the same bracket.
Omaha North's JaVaughn Perkins and Loren Williams of Tri-Center, Iowa, will be the headliners at North's Vern Ekfelt Invitational.
Perkins is ranked nationally at 160 pounds. Williams is an Iowa State recruit. They wrestled at the tournament two seasons ago with Williams winning 4-3.
It isn't clear yet at which weight either will wrestle Saturday.
Perkins will be wrestling just 12 days after he and his Vikings teammates lost in the state championship football game.
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