Isaac DeLoa has opened a new frontier in Nebraska high school wrestling by collecting his 200th win.
DeLoa got there Thursday as the three-time champion from Millard South won his first two matches of the Class A state championship at the CenturyLink Center.
“When I got to the 100 range, I never could have imagined getting my 200th,” DeLoa said.
The race to the top is just beginning, coach Doug Denson said. Scheduling limits have been relaxed, and with more dual tournaments, some wrestlers will finish this season with more than 60 matches.
“It’s neat to be the first one, but more people are going to be going that way,” Denson said. “One hundred was the benchmark, then 150. With the new rules, you’re going to see 200 be like those.
“You get so many more matches than you used to, too. It’s crazy. Sometimes I’d argue, ‘Is that really a good thing?’ because kids could be wrestling, like, every day.”
DeLoa had 46 wins as a freshman, 52 as a sophomore, 52 as a junior and is 50-0 this year. Of his 200 wins, 149 have been by pin. Thursday, he had a 16-0 technical fall over Grand Island’s Tyler Longland in the 138-pound first round and won a 13-2 major decision over Nate Kathol of Norfolk for the milestone in the quarterfinals. He faces Jake Oltman of Lincoln Southwest in the semifinal.
Millard South was one of three defending team champions to take first-day leads. Omaha Skutt in Class B and Amherst in Class D were the others. David City moved out to a small lead over Valentine in Class C.
The tournament, which has two daytime rounds of consolations Friday, will begin its semifinals and third-round consolations at 5 p.m. Saturday’s finals, televised on NET1, start at 3 p.m.
Millard South is more than 20 points ahead of a tightly bunched pack of Grand Island, Kearney and Columbus. Five of the Patriots’ 11 first-round winners advanced to the semifinals and are assured of medaling.
Denson said he thought the quarterfinals went about to form for his team. It has two semifinals against other contenders, one each against Grand Island and Columbus.
Skutt and Plattsmouth each sent seven to the semifinals as the SkyHawks, bidding for their 18th Class B title in 19 years, opened an 82.5-70 lead on Plattsmouth. Gretna also had a good day and was in third with 56 points.
“There are some other good teams out there, Plattsmouth and Gretna and Scottsbluff and other teams that can score points, but it’s kind of in our hands, which is great,” new Skutt coach Chas DeVetter said. “If we perform, we can take over and win this thing.”
Skutt and Plattsmouth won’t wrestle head-to-head in the semifinals.
“The kids and coaches tend to look at other matches going on,” Blue Devils coach Curtis Gocke said. “We’ll take some help from our friends, but we have to focus on wrestling our six minutes and then the results will take care of themselves.”
Class B’s top upset was by sophomore Mario Ybarra of Scottsbluff, who defeated top-ranked Skutt junior Jeff Heinz 2-0 at 126. Heinz was seeking his second state title in three years. Ybarra was fifth last year at 113.
Another Skutt setback was at 170, where No. 5 Gerald Kenkel of Ogallala beat No. 2 Curt Randall 4-2.
In Class C, David City took a 63-55 lead on Valentine and has six in the semifinals to five for the Badgers.
“We’re going to have our hands full out there,” David City coach Tahner Thiem said. “There were a couple of classes where we could have done better.”
The only head-to-head is at 170, when Morgen Valentine of David City faces JP Stephen of Valentine.
Amherst is bidding for a Class D-record seventh consecutive title. The Broncos put five in the semifinals while scoring 57 points, with Elkhorn Valley second with 36.5.
A key bout will be at 160 pounds, where No. 2 Noah Rutjens of Elkhorn Valley meets No. 3 Kalin Klingelhoefer of Amherst.
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