>> State wrestling: Millard South’s DeLoa is the first to 200, but he’s just that — the first
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Good, not great.
That was the best way to describe the challengers to the Class A crown behind its reigning owner.
Class A No. 1 Millard South went 11-1 in the first round and put five through to Friday’s semifinals to build a 21½-point lead in the team race Thursday at the state tournament at the CenturyLink Center.
But behind the Patriots were a pair of familiar faces.
Seventh-ranked Grand Island finished the opening day second with 47 points, second behind Millard South’s 68.5. The Islanders advanced five to the semifinals.
“We’re competing each and every match,” Grand Island coach Joey Morrison said.
Islanders who won a pair of matches Thursday were Skylar Schmidt (126), Blake Coen (145), Chris Doty (152), Tim Reis (160) and Gage Grinnell (285).
A point behind Grand Island is fourth-ranked Kearney, which advanced four to Friday’s semis.
After starting Thursday 1-3, the Bearcats ran off wins in eight of their next nine matches to stay in contention. They were one of five teams that took turns in second place Thursday.
But a pair of first-round losses by ranked wrestlers at 120 and 138 pounds were part of the sluggish start that had Kearney coach Ty Swarm wanting more in Friday’s consolation and semifinal rounds.
“We told them they were going to find their battle tomorrow, those two,” Swarm said, “because they need to come back and battle for it.”
Two other losses Thursday came to returning state champions. Kearney went 4-4 in the quarterfinal round.
Swarm’s team will have semifinalists in Nick James at 132, Trey Grube at 160, Leo Palomo at 182 and Lee Herrington at heavyweight. James is the only one of Kearney’s five ranked wrestlers to reach the semis.
“At the end of the day, not everything went right,” Swarm said. “We were good, not great, today. We have to be great tomorrow and the rest of the weekend.”
The defending champions will be tough — but not impossible — to run down after an impressive opening round.
Millard South followed the impressive first round by going 5-6 in the quarterfinals.
“To beat a team like (Millard South), you have to do great things. You have to do unexpected things,” Swarm said. “That’s really what it’s all about tomorrow. We have to come back and have that great day tomorrow.”
Friday’s consolation rounds begin at 11 a.m., with the semifinals set for 5 p.m.