METRO CONFERENCE WRESTLING TOURNAMENT
Dual tournament begins at 3 p.m. Friday • Individual tournament begins at 8 a.m. Saturday (finals at 5 p.m.) • Omaha North
Jake Stogdill has kept a steady diet of tough opponents.
"Pretty much every week, I've had at least one ranked guy," he said.
But the Millard North senior will likely get a second — and maybe third — helping this weekend at the Metro Conference championships at Omaha North.
Stogdill, ranked No. 1 in Class A at 113 pounds, is expected to be joined by four of the other five ranked wrestlers at his weight. The defending champ is seeking his third Metro crown.
"It's a tough bracket for sure," Stogdill said. "You've just got to think one match at a time."
He's entering Metro coming off a 7-2 win over second-ranked Eron Haynes of Omaha Central in the Lincoln North Star Invitational finals. Stogdill beat No. 4 Phillip Moomey of Kearney 5-1 earlier that day.
"He's getting to his finishes a little quicker on his shots," Millard North coach Scott Loveless said. "We've been working a lot on getting more shots going. Shots and re-shots, not being reliant on getting just one shot."
At 21-2, Stogdill should be the top seed in a bracket that includes Haynes, Millard West's Jack Huffman (ranked No. 3), Reid Dasher (No. 5) of Papillion-La Vista and Omaha Burke's Michael Bridgeford (No. 6).
Stogdill pinned Bridgeford in the semifinals at state last season before a 1-0 win over Kobe Paczosa-Hall of Columbus gave him the title. Paczosa-Hall is ranked fifth at 120, but wrestled down a weight class last weekend. A drop by him would make a grinder weight class even tougher at next month's state tournament.
Stogdill won't be the only one in the class riding high, though. Huffman beat McGwire Midkiff of Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson — ranked No. 3 in Iowa's biggest class — for the title at Omaha Creighton Prep's TomDineen Invitational earlier this month.
Midkiff owns a win over Stogdill, one of two losses this season to ranked out-of-state opponents that Stogdill said should pay dividends down the stretch.
"Everyone is going to give me their best shot," Stogdill said. "I think this (regular) season is going to prepare me for state."
Both he and Loveless describe his style as simple. There's not a whole lot of flash, just solid fundamentals.
"He just stays in good position and controls things," Loveless said. "A lot of people don't realize how good he is because all he does is the right thing. There's some guys, even a couple in his weight class, that when they go out there and wrestle you're like, 'Wow.' Jake just wins. He just shows up. He's the type of kid you build programs around."
Stogdill added: "It might be a little boring, but the fundamentals are what win you big matches."
It's exactly what he'll have on his hands this weekend. Friday's dual tournament begins at 3 p.m. The finals for Saturday's individual tournament are set for 5 p.m.
What would winning a third Metro title mean to Stogdill?
"A lot," he said. "My first Metro tournament was kind of an eye-opener. To finish on top would be satisfying."