Mike Denney's two-day trip down memory lane this week isn't without its share of business mixed in.
The former UNO wrestling coach brings his new team, Maryville University, to Omaha for a Thursday dual with the University of Nebraska at Kearney, which has been ranked No. 1 in the country.
That's after an event Wednesday night to honor and thank the accomplishments of Denney and former Mavs football coach Pat Behrns. The two had their respective sports cut when UNO moved up to Division I.
“We've never really gotten the chance to thank these guys,” former Denney assistant Ron Higdon said. “I know the football players are really excited about it and it's going to be really cool to have (Denney) back in Omaha.”
Wednesday's tribute begins at 6 p.m. at the Embassy Suites in La Vista with a cocktail and hors d'oeuvres hour before the presentation begins. Tickets remain and are $45 per person.
After all the catching up is done, Denney and his Saints get a crack at UNK. The Lopers picked up where three-time defending champion UNO left off, winning last year's Division II national title.
UNK is coached by Marc Bauer, who wrestled for Denney with the Mavericks. UNK had a pair of wrestlers who transferred from UNO as major contributors on last year's championship team.
“That was always a great rivalry for us up there,” Denney said of the UNO-UNK battles. “We're going to do that on an annual basis. We want to keep the fires burning up there.”
Also on Thursday night's slate are high school duals featuring Millard South against Lincoln Northeast and Omaha Skutt vs. Elkhorn South.
The two high school duals are at 5:30 p.m. The Maryville-UNK dual is at 7:30 p.m. All are at Millard South High School.
The highlight of the main event between Maryville and now No. 13 UNK figures to be a replay of last year's 149-pound national championship match.
UNK's Raufeon Stots takes on John Hagerty at 149 pounds. At last year's Division II tournament, Stots beat Hagerty 5-4 for the national title.
“That'll be a great matchup,” Denney said. “There will be some great matchups that night, but everybody's looking forward to that.”
Denney's team is coming off the first 16-team tournament title in the program's two-year history.
“It was big for us,” Denney said. “That's the best we've performed. We've been through some delightful challenges, so to speak. We're a little banged up. But the Maryville Saints will be there.”
Contact the writer: