He knows it sounds cliché.
But Tyler Herman has the last three Class D state tournament trophies to prove he means it when he says he takes these weekends in Omaha match by match.
“I tell our kids every year,” the Amherst wrestling coach said, “if you take care of your business, the team race will take of itself.”
They have and it did each of the last three seasons. Herman and company look to make that four in row at the state wrestling tournament Thursday through Saturday at CenturyLink Center.
The Broncos, who finished as the team runner-up the three seasons before starting their run, qualified 12 for this year's tournament, tied for the most in Herman's nine years with the program.
It will be that kind of depth that again will be important. The last two seasons, top-ranked Amherst has nipped No. 2 Pender at the end in large part because of the points from multiple contributors.
Last year, Herman's crew had half as many state champions as the Pendragons, but its nine medalists were two more than Pender's. The Broncos also have three more qualifiers this season.
“With 12 kids down there we need everyone scoring points for us,” Herman said. “That's what it takes. That's why it's called a team state championship.”
But the Broncos aren't heading into state thinking about the team race.
“We never really worry about team scores,” senior Stuart Hircock said. “Everyone knows that if you go out there and do the best you can the team points will come.”
Hircock, a 170-pounder, and junior Mason Klingelhoefer at 145 are the returning finalists for the Broncos. Each is ranked first at his respective weight class, as is teammate Devin Dibbern (138).
Hircock has had more motivation than most this season. He was beaten in last year's state championship at 170 on a takedown with one second left. To say the two-time medalist (once as a sophomore at Ansley) uses it to push him is an understatement.
“It was pretty heartbreaking,” Hircock said. “It just kept fuel in the fire. It motivated me to want to finish on top in my last year.”
Other Amherst qualifiers are Dawson Trampe (106), Bryan Wietjes (113), Colton Bergt (120), Brandt Florell (126), Logan Dibbern (132), Eric Rasmussen (152), Kris Rasmussen (182), Payton Schake (195) and Tanner Hircock (285).
It's a group that Herman said has made it through a tough schedule and wrestled a pretty high level much of the season. He's confident that the challenges they got throughout the season will pay off this weekend.
“We've definitely been battle tested,” Herman said. “I think that's important. It gets us ready for the state tournament.”
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State wrestling tournament: Class D
120: Mark Dunn, Pender, 106
126: Benny Oliver, Pender, 113
132: Garrett Bowder, Pender, 126;
Corby Forbes, Plainview, 112 ('11)
138: Jacob Sebade, Pender, 103 ('11), 120
182: Ben Burmester, Pender, 171 ('11)
126: Oliver, Pender, 37-0
132: Bowder, Pender, 37-0
160: Jake Wells, Anselmo-Merna, 32-0
170: Stuart Hircock, Amherst, 34-0
182: Burmester, Pender, 34-0
220: Rulon Taylor, Medicine Valley, 33-0
285: Nathan Bazata, Howells-Dodge, 39-0