Districts of death.
All four classes in the state have one, and each could affect team races at next week’s state wrestling tournament.
The one with perhaps the most firepower will be District B-1 at Norris, a field that includes the top three — and four of the top five — teams in Class B.
And all three have an argument as the favorite.
Top-ranked Plattsmouth and No. 2 Omaha Skutt each has eight wrestlers in the final ratings released this week, the most of any team in the class.
Gretna, ranked third, beat both in head-to-head meetings and won the Eastern Midlands Conference individual and dual tournaments, besting Plattsmouth each time. Fifth-ranked Nebraska City and No. 8 Ashland-Greenwood are also in the district.
“We know there are some really good teams,” Skutt coach Chas DeVetter said. “We’re ready for the challenge.”
DeVetter is in his first year at the helm for the SkyHawks, winners of 17 out of the last 18 Class B state titles. The former Skutt wrestler said his team battled injuries throughout the course of the season, but looked good last week in two showings with its full lineup.
The SkyHawks beat Class A No. 7 Grand Island 45-18 in a dual and then crowned individual champions in 11 of 14 weight classes at last weekend’s River Cities Conference tournament.
That after a regular-season schedule that may be the toughest of any team in the state.
“We’re getting better every week because of that,” DeVetter said. “At a lot of these (tournaments), it’s one of those things where we have to get up for the first match, not just the finals. Just like the next three weeks, it’s a thing where last week was a tough one and next week isn’t a letup.”
Skutt has gotten a lift from junior Korbin Meink and senior Bailey Vanderpool late in the season. Vanderpool won a state title in 2014 and is ranked second at 138.
Meink, a two-time champion, is still ranked No. 1 at 120 despite missing a significant part of the season due to injury.
Add those two back into a lineup that has five others ranked either first or second at their respective weight classes, and you get an idea of what gives DeVetter confidence entering the postseason.
“I feel really good about our team,” DeVetter said. “We’ve got a powerful lineup. I think we have the horses that can do some major damage.”
Class A’s loaded field is the A-1 district at Millard South, which features the top-ranked hosts — Class A’s defending champion — as well as No. 3 Millard West and fourth-ranked Kearney.
In Class C, it will be No. 1 David City, third-ranked Wilber-Clatonia and No. 5 David City Aquinas in the C-1 field at Syracuse.
Only Amherst, which has won the last six Class D crowns, is missing from the top six in Class D’s toughest district. Burwell, Creighton, Elkhorn Valley, Plainview and Winside are ranked second through sixth, respectively, and will face off in the D-2 field at Elkhorn Valley.
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