Since 2013, Nebraska has held the state duals championship the week after the individual state tournament championships. But that’s going to change this season, as the state duals tournament will now be Feb. 8 — the week before district tournaments.
Only eight teams per class will qualify for the duals tournament, and teams must compete in at least six duals throughout the season to be eligible. Adams Central is hoping to be one of those eight teams that make it to Kearney for the state duals.
“We still have some guys trying to make their hydrations tests, and if we can get people down to the right weights, we’ll be able to fill out our lineup and we’ll have a really good dual team,” said AC head coach Dan Lonowski.
The Patriots coach said it’s always a goal to get to the duals tournament, and he likes his team’s chances this season. Lonowski estimated his squad will go into the season in the top 10 or 11 teams, but he’s confident the Patriots can pull of some big wins and earn valuable wild card points, hopefully climbing the standings to get into the top eight.
“But we feel we can pull some upsets and get in there and maybe even do some damage when we get there,” he said.
Adams Central brings back three state qualifiers, including two-time medalist and three-time qualifier Triston Obermiller. The senior has placed sixth each of the last two years and will try to go for another medal in the 106-pound weight class.
“Triston eats and breathes wrestling. He’s wrestling year round. Of course, he signed with Hastings College, so that’s good to get that out of the way; now he doesn’t have to worry about that and he can just wrestle,” Lonowski said. “Triston will be fine. He’s wrestling at a high ability. He’s got kids around him — Devon Ackles and Braiden Kort, who’s a freshman. They’re all pretty much at a higher ability, so it’s good competition in the wrestling room.”
AC’s Cameron Kort won 40 matches last year and went 2-2 in the state tournament. Lonowski said Kort, a senior, is wrestling well going into the season and is still trying to figure out if he’s going to stay at 138 pounds or go up to 145. Devon Ackles, a junior, is also coming off a state tournament berth, where he went 1-2. He’s expected to wrestle at 120 pounds.
The Patriots are projecting to have two freshmen and five sophomores in their lineup. Lonowski said freshman Braiden Kort (113) could have a big season and will make those wrestlers near his weight class better during practice. Kaleb Saurer (132) is the other freshman expected to contribute.
The sophomores in line for varsity spots are Konnor Howard (126), Jeret Frerichs (138), Oaklyn Smith (182), Jacob Deckert (195), and Tyler Pavelka (285). Lonowski said last season was a growing experience for many of the sophomores that were on varsity.
“We have a lot of sophomores that wrestled varsity last year, and maybe they weren’t as successful as I would have liked them to be, but now they have a year under their belts. We feel good about that,” he said. “We feel like we’re a little bit better of a team this year than we were last year, as far as being a dual team.”
Jackson Johnson, a 152-pounder, and Blake Bonifas (160) join Kort and Obermiller as seniors expected to start in the lineup. Junior Sam Hamberger has improved and will look to make an impact at 220 pounds. Wyatt Janssen, also a junior, rounds out the projected lineup at 170 pounds.