Class A No. 5 Columbus High wrestling has built an impressive resume this season.
The Discoverers hope to continue their run on Saturday at the A-3 District Tournament at Papillion-La Vista with a spot at the state championships on the line.
CHS appears to be in position to qualify several wrestlers with NEwrestle.com predicting 10 out of 14 members of the lineup placing top four.
Though the brackets and the seeds won't be released until Saturday morning, most Columbus wrestlers have done enough throughout the season to earn a favorable start to the competition.
NEWrestle had Columbus as the highest ranked team in the A3 District with Omaha Central and Papillion-LaVista rounding out the top three.
"I don't really like to make predictions, but based on the past few years we've averaged 10 or 11. Based on that, I would say something like that," head coach Adam Keiswetter said. "But, you never know. A lot of times you think there's someone you think for sure will qualify for state and they don't. Anything is possible."
As is generally his approach to tournaments, Keiswetter won't get bogged down in analyzing the bracket or considering matchups before hand. Under his leadership, Columbus High has always focused inward. That won't change now at the most important part of the season.
"I probably won't look at the brackets all day," he said. "Usually they have that big screen on the wall of who goes to what mat. I don't really care if they're seeded or not, or where they're at in the bracket. It's an eight-man bracket. You win three matches you win the bracket. It doesn't really matter who you beat or what the order is."
Out of the 14 wrestlers in the Columbus lineup, eight are either new or failed to qualify to Omaha last year. Six others are returning qualifiers, medalists, or in the case of Kasten Grape, a returning state champ.
That mix makes the Discoverers one of the most experienced groups in Papillion. What follows is a breakdown of path to Omaha for those Columbus wrestlers who have never been there.
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106: Freshman Adrian Bice has compiled a record of 42-4 this season is and is ranked No. 3 in Class A, the highest in the district. He is the No. 1 pre-seed and looks to be in strong position to win the district. No. 6 Mohamud Abdi of Omaha Bryan, Dominic Martinez of Papillion-LaVista and Avery Russel of Millard West look to be his biggest competition.
113: Sophomore Blake Cerny has gone 36-13 this season earning himself a No. 8 ranking in Class A. He is the No. 2 pre-seed behind No. 6 Noor Salat of Bryan. Jacob Williams of LaVista and Calvin Empkey of Norfolk will also be in the mix.
126: Sophomore Andon Stenger will face an uphill battle to qualify for state. His record stands at 26-17 and he comes in as the expected No. 6. No. 5 Ryan Turner of Omaha Central, No. 6 Ian Rudner of LaVista, No. 7 Abdi Mohamed of Bryan and No. 8 Weston Godfrey of Norfolk are also in the division.
132: Freshman Cayden Kucera has gone 11-5 this season, but still hopes to clinch a ticket to the state tournament. He comes in as the No. 7 pre-seed, but is expected to have a chance for at least fourth. No. 4 Gabe Grice of Omaha Central, No. 7 Aaron Dittmer of Norfolk and Josh Richardson of LaVista look to be the toughest competition.
152: Sophomore Rylee Iburg went 21-7 thus far earning a No. 4 pre-seed. He'll see some top level competition, but looks to be in position to make a push to qualify. No. 1 Cole Price of LaVista, No. 2 Deon Davis on Omaha Central and No. 5 Josh Licking of Norfolk make up his potential foes.
160: Senior Mac Shevlin has a record of 25-23 placing him as the No. 6 pres-eed. NEWrestle.com has him placing fourth behind No. 4 Ethan Valencia of Millard West, No. 5 Tommy Wentz of Fremont and No. 8 Brayden Splater of Norfolk.
220: Junior Justin Gaston has a 10-5 record, earning the No. 5 pre-eed. He will have an uphill battle to qualify for state against No. 2 Jaylon Walker of Bryan, No. 6 Garrett Moser of Fremont, No. 8 Brayden Heffner of Norfolk and Ryan Kocovsky of Millard West.
285: Freshman Sam Beyer has had an up and down season, going 5-15, but despite the adversity is one tournament away from going to state. He'll only see one ranked wrestler in his bracket - No. 2 Jacob Frezell-McClinton of Omaha Central. Jake Jensen of Norfolk, Kade Richardson of Fremont and Fabian Reed of Bryan look to be the toughest competition.
Senior Clay Cerny at 120 pounds was a fifth-place medalist last year at 113, junior Tanner Kobza, a fourth-place medalist in 2019, is still out with an injury, sophomore Levi Bloomquist qualified last season at 126, junior Alex Korte made it on the 138 bracket, junior Blayze Standley was fourth at 170, senior Anthony DeAnda was fourth at 195 and senior Kasten Grape won gold at 220.
"There's kids that are coming back from injuries, there's flu going around, so there's going to be upsets," Keiswetter said. "I'd like to be the underdog in those, making the upset, not receiving. But you never know what's going to happen."
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org