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Rubek: Unbeaten Knight stands between Patriot, perfection

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There is a big ol’ wrestling match Saturday at the CenturyLink Center.

One of those old-school classics. A battle.

Two unbeaten, returning state champs, one with a shot at a fourth gold and a place in history.

Two seniors who won at different weights last year but have been on a collision course this year.

And two dudes who will swear to you they want it more than the other.

Talent, intrigue and just enough bad blood to keep fans in their seats until the end of show.

Oh, and a state title on the line, too.

Wrestling fans got their wish Friday night when Millard South’s Isaac DeLoa and Lincoln Southeast’s Jonathan Killingsworth disposed of their semifinal opponents.

On to the next one.

“I was born ready for this,” DeLoa said. “I’m ready to go get it.”

He looked that way after pinning third-ranked Jake Oltman of Lincoln Southwest in the third period of the first semifinal.

DeLoa sprung up and appeared to give a long look at Killingsworth, who was standing nearby getting ready for his match.

Both admitted afterward that there’s a little extra juice for Saturday’s championship, which will be the final Class A match of the day.

“I stayed at this weight, knowing I was going to get him,” Killingsworth said.

You read that right. Killingworth, who improved to 46-0 on the season with a third-period pin of sixth-ranked Alec Welch of Elkhorn South, remained at 138 pounds knowing full well that DeLoa was dropping from 145 with a shot to become the state’s 26th four-time champion.

“I’m pumped and excited,” Killingsworth said. “I get to show how good I really am. I get the chance to prove people wrong.”

And he gets to do so with a whole lot less pressure than DeLoa.

Win or lose, Killingsworth will finish off a nice career — one with four state medals — before moving on to Division II power St. Cloud State.

The guy who took a nap before his title match last season said he might do the same Saturday.

DeLoa is a little more high-wired. He’d rather do backflips off the walls of the practice room than condition for six-minute affairs.

“I don’t like them,” he said of three-period battles, “but I like them, you know?”

After being pushed in a win over freshman James Burks of Omaha Burke earlier in the year — in a match that was tied in the third period — DeLoa has been under strict instruction to extend matches to help build his conditioning.

He’s the record-holder for career falls in the state, and it’s absolutely killing him.

“I just love pinning kids,” he said.

The reins will be off Saturday. The two have never met, but seem to know quite a bit about each other.

The edge in experience has to go to DeLoa, who picked up his 200th career win in Thursday’s quarterfinals, and has been in a big-time scrap or two.

He’s lost once in the last three seasons.

“I’ve had plenty of matches like this with a lot of pressure on,” DeLoa said. “I always feel like I wrestle better under pressure.”

But wrestling pedigree and past wins won’t mean much when the two step in the circle Saturday. Especially if it goes the distance.

I’d give DeLoa a slight edge. He’s as talented as anyone in the field and should have every reason to be up for his last high school match.

If Killingsworth can drag him out into the deep waters that are the third period, all bets are off.

A true main event awaits.


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