Pole position allowed Millard South a victory lap Saturday, and finally one that the Patriots could spend looking through the windshield rather than in the rearview mirror.
Class A No. 1 Millard South finished with eight medalists, including two state champions, on its way to back-to-back state team titles at the individual tournament.
After splitting close races the last two seasons — losing the team lead in the final match in 2014 and holding on for a win last year — the Patriots were able to wrestle loose after a morning showing in the consolation round that longtime coach Doug Denson said he had “not been a part of before.”
The Patriots outscored runner-up Kearney by 38.5 points.
“We just nailed it,” Denson said of the consolation medal round. “All of a sudden the pressure is off the guys in the finals. And that’s exactly what we needed. You don’t want to wrestle not to lose, you have to wrestle to win. You can’t be tight on this stage.”
Millard South’s two biggest horses wrestled like it.
Top-ranked 220-pounder Alex Cloyd added to the single-season pin record he set in Friday’s semifinals with a 68-second fall over Omaha Creighton Prep’s Nick Pray.
Cloyd’s brother was on the mat for the final match when the team title slipped away two years ago,
Cloyd’s win set the stage for teammate Isaac DeLoa — the previous pin record holder — in the evening’s final match.
DeLoa, who Denson said had asked all day if the team title was clinched, went out and beat Lincoln Southeast senior Jonathan Killingsworth 4-0 to become the 26th wrestler in state history to win four state titles.
“I just let it go,” DeLoa said of his win. “There was no pressure.”
In between, 106-pounder Blake Jackson was pinned by nationally ranked Joey Harrison of Omaha Burke in the first period.
Still, Denson said the tournament exceeded his expectations.
“I think I came in with more modest thoughts,” he said. “I thought if we could stay ahead of the pack and let them beat each other up, then we’re going to be in decent shape. And then all of a sudden, our guys were like, ‘We’re taking the reins, we’re going to run with it.’”
It was the 23rd straight tournament, a Class A record, for Millard South.
A Saturday challenger never seemed to materialize.
Kearney matched Millard South with eight medals, but had no finalists. Second-ranked Columbus had six medalists, including 195-pound champion Colton Wolfe.
Grand Island (103 points) and Omaha Burke (97.5) rounded out the top five.
DeLoa soaked in the spotlight after his win, saying he was happy about another state team title and the spoils that go to the victors.
“Getting another ring,” DeLoa said. “I had a good feeling we were going to.”
Contact the writer: