Competing in Class A's toughest district field didn't seem to phase Papillion-La Vista.
The Monarchs earned a runner-up finish and qualified 10 individuals for this weekend's State Wrestling Tournament during the A-1 District Tournament in Norfolk.
Top-ranked Grand Island won the team event with 191 points as the Monarchs racked up 159.5 to outdistance Norfolk for second place. Papio's runner-up finish also secured a spot in the State Dual Tournament Feb. 28 in Grand Island.
“I thought we had a chance to be a little closer to Grand Island so I was a little disappointed that we didn't, but we were in a very competitive district and came through OK,” P-LV coach Mike Braun said.
With 10 qualifiers, the Monarchs appear to be set up to make a run at strong finish this weekend.
“I want our kids to have the attitude that it doesn't matter who we have to wrestle, I just want us to go out there and get after it,” Braun said. “We certainly have our challenges, but we don't have any control over the draws. We just have to give our best effort.”
Papio finished with two champions on the day and had four other runner-up showings.
Joey Perez improved to 45-2 with his title at 126 pounds. The senior ended his title run with a 4-0 victory over Aaron Houser of North Platte in the final match.
Brandon Sorgenfrei rolled through the 160-pound bracket, capturing the crown with an 18-2 technical fall victory over Connor Neal of Norfolk.
Michael Conley, 43-6 on the year, was edged by Skylar Schmidt of Grand Island in the 113 final while Reilly Carlow dropped a narrow decision to Thomas Dalton of Lincoln Pius X in the 145 finale.
Preston Kelly was topped by Grand Island's Billy Thompson in the 170 finals while Kyle Emerick dropped the 220 title bout to unbeaten Chase Reis of G.I.
Brendan Crews came in third at 138, as did Gabe Patras at 195. Thomas Cahill (120) and Austin McDonald (132) each finished fourth.
After failing to land a qualifier a year ago, Bryan will be represented at state thanks to junior Zach Gates.
The 182-pounder took third place to earn his first state trip.
He clinched the berth with a 5-1 win over Marcus Cisneros of Lincoln Pius X, then earned third when he outlasted Norfolk's Dominic Carr 2-1 in a tiebreaker.
Bellevue East and Bellevue West send five wrestlers apiece to state after the District A-3 meet at Creighton Prep Saturday.
The Chieftains edged out West in the team standings by taking fifth with 96 points and the T-birds claimed sixth with 73 points. Burke won the team event with 206 points.
East was led by Gunnar Byous (113) and Johnny Porter (160), who each went 3-0 to win their respective weight class.
Porter, after winning on two decision in his first two matches, topped Tim Burbach of Lincoln Southwest in the championship match with a pin 1 minute and 16 seconds in to improve to 34-0. Porter's dominate win has him entering state with a high note.
“If Johnny just takes care of business like he showed he can in the last match, he should be fine at state,” East coach Todd Porter said.
Gunnar Byous notched three pins on his way to his district title.
“Gunnar looks much better than he did 10 weeks ago,” Todd Porter said. “He's going into state on the top of his game.”
Jake Wild finished with a runner-up finish in the 285-pound bracket. Oscar Baird (106) and Kyntral Watkins (220) also clinched tickets to state with third place finishes.
While the Chieftains only have five going, the wrestlers going are all strong.
“I'm fairly disappointed because this is the fewest wrestlers East has sent in a long time,” Todd Porter said. “But these five can all get stuff done and our goal is still to finish in the top 10 like it is every year.”
Russ Barber took home the only title for Bellevue West, winning the 138-pound crown with a 13-5 major decision over Edward Merrill of Lincoln East and improving to 19-4 on the year.
“Rusty wrestled really good to win districts coming back this week off an elbow injury,” West coach Jerry Schumacher said.
Jake Garner (145) and Dillan DeRosier (132) both fell in their championship match for runner-up finishes. Garner and DeRosier have both been battling injuries coming into districts.
“Dillon was cleared just Monday off a concussion that he got at metro.“ Schumacher said. “Jake has had knee injuries for the last three weeks and still gutted out a runner up.”
The other two qualifiers for the T-birds were Ryan Smales, who finished third at 120, and Colten McCauley, who took fourth at 152.
“The team did well considering we had to fight through all the injuries we had,” Schumacher said. “They showed mental toughness and true guts on Saturday.”
Papillion-La Vista doubled its state qualifying total from a season ago as six wrestlers punched their tickets to the postseason at Saturday's A-2 event at Millard South.
The Titans finished fifth with 83 points as Kearney edged the host Patriots for the team title.
“There were a couple of things we could have done better, but it was a good meet,” P-LS coach Jason Branigan said. “We've got a chance to make some noise next week.”
Leading the way for the Titans was 195-pounder Collin Stock as he improved to 38-4 with his championship.
Stock outlasted Millard West's Zach Sorich 9-3 in the finals.
“I'd like to see Collin be a little more aggressive in some of these matches, but he knows what he can do and he knows he's got a shot to win next week,” Branigan said.
Chance Adolf was the only other Titan to reach the finals as he was runner-up at 160. Adolf had a late lead over Central's Korbin Foster in the finals before Foster recovered for a pin with 13 seconds left.
Spencer Petersen (182), Nate Morris (106) and Hunter Taylor (138) all finished third for the Titans while Jeremy Kowalski was fourth in the heavyweight division.