Amherst became the first team to win four straight Class D state titles when it took the 2013 championship.
But the best may still be ahead for the Broncos.
Amherst comes to CenturyLink Center this week with a full squad after dominating its district over the weekend.
“It was the best district performance I've been a part of as a coach, and I've been at Amherst 10 years,” Broncos coach Tyler Herman said. “We got all 14 boys qualified. That was the goal. Every day at practice we have a word of the day and every day this past week it was '14.' Our goal was to get all 14 there, and we got 13 of them in the finals. It's something I hadn't experienced before. It's hard to describe how proud I was of the kids.”
Ten of those Broncos were district champions, and Amherst finished with 313.5 points. No other team in any of the Class D districts compiled more than 139 points.
“(The team) losing only four matches the whole weekend was exciting for all of us,” said Bryan Wietjes, who won the 120-pound weight class.
Wietjes is a defending state champion, winning last year's 113-pound title. But he was one of the few Broncos to make it unscathed to last season's finals as Amherst went 2-6 in the semifinals. That round has had a lasting effect.
“I think the difference this year is this team is very hungry,” Herman said.” We lost a lot of matches in the state semifinals. A lot of those guys wrestled their tails off Saturday morning and got third to help us win the team title. But those semifinal losses left a bad taste in their mouths.”
So this year's team prepared for the postseason with a tough schedule, competing against quite a few Class B and C teams. The Broncos traveled to invitationals in Sutherland, Neligh and Ainsworth, winning every one.
But Herman said the victory that stands out came at the Cross County Invitational last month when the Broncos defeated Class C state contender David City by 12 points.
“That was a pretty important win for us. It kind of let us know where we were at,” Herman said. “We just made sure our kids see a lot of different competitions, a lot of different styles. The schedule makes sure we're ready to go when districts and state hits.”
Even with a tough schedule, Amherst brings seven wrestlers to state who have five or fewer losses. Three of them — seniors Wietjes, Mason Klingelhoefer (160) and Kris Rasmussen (182) — are unbeaten.
“We've all wrestled together since we were 4 years old, so it's fun to see everyone getting where they want to be and all the years of work is paying off,” Wietjes said.
Amherst won its first state title with Herman as coach in 2006. The Broncos were runners-up to Howells the next three years before winning the past four titles. Herman said that 2006 title was a turning point.
“The good thing is the guys on varsity now were young when we won that (2006) title and saw that progression and wanted to be a part of it,” said Herman, who has four seniors and seven juniors competing at state. “To their credit, they've carried on that tradition and kept this thing rolling.”