Merely winning would get JaVaughn Perkins his fourth gold, but not the Class A championship for Omaha North.
Perkins, who had urged two teammates onto victory to keep the Vikings' hopes alive, now needed to win his 182-pound final against Anthony Cloyd of Millard South by at least eight points.
Anything closer, and Millard South would be Class A wrestling champion.
Perkins produced. His 13-1 win, worth five points after the Vikings were trailing by 4.5, lifted them to their first title since 1998 while becoming the fifth four-time champion of the meet and the 24th all time.
As the CenturyLink Center spotlights brought him onto the mat, Perkins said plenty was running through his mind.
“At that point I was thinking more about my team than winning a fourth title,'' the senior said. “I just had to get the whole team involved.”
North finished with 156 points to 155.5 for the Patriots in what might have been the closest team race in Class A since a tie in 1947.
Perkins received the last of five standing ovations from what remained of a finals crowd of 10,344.
Brett Velasquez of Bennington at Class B 126 got the first one, followed by Jacob Sebade of Pender at Class D 138, Colton Adams of Scottsbluff at Class B 145 and Will Schany of Blair at Class B 189 moments before Perkins' time to shine.
Omaha Skutt celebrated its third Class B title in a row and 16th in 17 years, David City won Class C by one point and Amherst completed its record-setting romp through Class D.
Millard South started the finals with a 6.5-point lead on North and Marc Tompsett at 220 boosted it to 12.5 with a first-period pin of Chase Reis, a returning champion who was undefeated in 43 matches this season.
After the Patriots' Nathan Rodriguez was pinned by Lincoln High's undefeated Wesley Dawkins at 106, North's Otis Rollins at 113 fought back from a 9-2 deficit against Brandon Kile of Hastings before losing 12-10. A takedown by Rollins, which would have forced extra time, was ruled too late.
Isaac DeLoa's 7-4 win over another previously unbeaten Islander, Andrew Rojas at 138, restored a 12.5-point lead and put North into a must-win situation with its final three.
Tyler Jackson got the first one. The junior beat Jared Green of Omaha Burke 7-4 at 145 pounds to take it back to an 8.5-point difference.
“After DeLoa won, my heart started beating,'' Perkins said. “After Ty won, it calmed down a little bit. It was up to me and Jacobi (Jones).”
Before Jones wrestled his 170-pound match against Shanon Jackson of Omaha Central, Perkins took his teammate aside.
“I said we have to get it done for our team,'' Perkins said. “It's our senior year and we don't get these moments back.”
Jones won 2-0, bringing North to within 4.5 points.
Perkins-Cloyd was the last match of the finals. Meet Director Ron Higdon, in a tourney first, broke from the traditional order of matches — lightest first — and started with the 195-pounders so the meet could end with Perkins and Schany in pursuit of their fourth golds.
Perkins led Cloyd 2-0 after one period and 6-0 after two. He said he thought Cloyd was “kind of stalling on the bottom, but you have to work through that. I just knew I couldn't get a little frustrated.”
Perkins got a takedown, then Cloyd scored on an escape. Another takedown made it 10-1 with 50 seconds left and the clinching points came on a three-point near-fall with 2 seconds left.
North also got a third from DeValon Whitcomb at 220 and Byron Vaughn at 138.
Skutt had four champions, bringing its Class B record total to 62. The SkyHawks finished with 179 points to 105.5 for runner-up Beatrice.
Korbin Meink at 103 and Jeff Heinz at 112 each won overtime matches against brothers Riley and Joe Berg, respectively, of West Point-Beemer.
Brian Peska made it three straight nail-biters for the SkyHawks with a 9-8 decision over Devin Ushio of Alliance at 120. Jake Walker beat Marcus Dawson at 152 while Bailey Vanderpool lost to Joseph Hayek of Seward on a second-period pin.
David City held on for a 125-124 win over O'Neill. The Scouts, Class C champions for the first time since 1984, went 1-3 in finals with Martin Phillips a champion at 145.
They led O'Neill by five before O'Neill's last wrestler, David Fox, won 3-1 over Battle Creek's Nate Gray at 170. That clinched the team title, with the Scouts' Joseph Verala having to injury default during his 182 final against Nebraska football walk-on Thomas Connely of Kearney Catholic.
Amherst had three champions — unbeatens Bryan Wietjes at 120, Mason Klingelhoefer at 160 and Kris Rasmussen at 182.
The Broncos' 241.5 points, 12 medal winners and 28 pins in the tournament were Class D records, with the pins good for an all-class mark. Their eighth team title leads Class D.
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Video: Sights and sounds at the state wrestling meet, Feb. 22
Video: Sights and sounds at the state wrestling meet, Feb. 21
Video: Sights and sounds at the state wrestling meet, Feb. 20