PLAINVIEW — The Plainview Pirates left little doubt in anyone's mind who would be the Class D favorite in next weekend's Nebraska State Wrestling Championships in Omaha with a convincing win here in the Class D-1 district wrestling meet Friday and Saturday.
The Pirates outdistanced runner-up Neligh-Oakdale 230.5-147.5, gaining the respect of longtime Warrior coach Gary Davis.
"They were the team to beat all year long and last year," Davis said. "They prove it week in and week out and they just seem to get better — I'm afraid they might be better next year."
Recent history confirms what the veteran coach was saying.
Plainview won the Class D Nebraska State Duals championship in Kearney last weekend and in 2018 — and is also the reigning Class D state team champ in last year's state individual championships in Omaha.
"We know we have a target on our back, and we get everyone's best shot," Pirate coach Dean Boyer said. "We look at it as another challenge — something we work hard to earn every single day. We've raised the bar around here and challenge each member of the team to get better and better — then the kids challenge the kids."
Plainview earned individual titles in the D-1 meet from Eli Lanham (106); Scout Ashburn (113); Nate Christensen (138); Alizae Mejia (170) and Collin Gale at (220).
The Pirates went 5-4 in the finals with four additional wrestlers receiving silver at the end of the meet.
"We wanted to come out and wrestle strong the entire tournament," Boyer said. "I think we did that here, and the score reflected it."
Lanham and Ashburn set the tone early in the finals round with their golds at 106 and 113.
"It's important for me to get out early in these tournaments and set us up with some momentum" Ashburn said. "We aren't really motivated by people giving us their best shot. We're ready for it, we practice for it and we motivate each other."
"I just go out on the mat and try to keep scoring. We all do that," Christensen said. "We definitely push each other to get better."
Boyer likes what he sees in practice, possibly more than what he sees in the meets.
"You don't teach hard work, kids learn that from coaching and each other," he said. "Some of our kids' toughest matches are in practice."
That was proven at 106, where the Pirates earned a first from Lanham and Ashton Dane took third with a major decision over a Twin Loup wrestler.
Mejia's run through the 170-pound weight class helped him to remain undefeated in his junior campaign.
"I wanted to make sure I helped keep the momentum heading into next weekend," Mejia said. "I just take things one match at a time."
Although the Warriors finished more than 80 points behind Plainview, Davis couldn't be happier with his team's performance.
"I don't think we left one team point out there on the mat," Davis said. "I don't see how we could have wrestled any better."
Davis' 195-pound wrestler, Kaleb Pofahl, was the only champion for Neligh-Oakdale, and he won his title with a career milestone.
Pofahl reached 150 wins over his career on the mat with a pin over Summerland's Colton Thiele, a fitting outcome as Pofahl reached the 100-pin plateau earlier this season.
"Winning here today is most important right now," Pofahl said. "I wanted to make sure we had enough team points to stay in second place. I just keep wrestling."
The Warriors did have five wrestlers finish in the top three in their respective weight classes with a pair of runners-up and three third-place finishes.
Tilden-Elkhorn Valley got a championship from Adam Miller at 126 pounds.
The Falcon junior wrestled Thayer Central's Brock McLaughlin to a 15-4 major decision.
"I am really excited to win here. This is a tough district," Miller said. "I had never wrestled this kid before so you don't know what to expect. You just go out there and wrestle your match."
Miller got a takedown early, then gained confidence from there.
"I like to wrestle from my feet," Miller said. "Once I got the first takedown, I was ready to go."
Elkhorn Valley finished sixth in the team race with 95 points while Pender was ninth with 61.
Class D-1 team results
1. Plainview 230.5; 2. Neligh-Oakdale 147.5; 3. Burwell 124; 4. Twin Loup 107.5; 5. Thayer Central 96; 6. Tilden-Elkhorn Valley 95; 7. Meridian 67.5; 8. Arapahoe 62; 9. Pender 61; 10. Cambridge 52; 11. Summerland 45; 12. Brady 42; 13. Creighton 38; 14. Fullerton 28; 15. Elgin Public/Pope John 22; 16. Osmond 16; 17. Niobrara/Verdigre 11; 18. Scribner-Snyder 6; 19. Clarkson-Leigh 5; 20. O'Neill St. Mary's 4.
Individual state qualifiers
106 — 1. Eli Lanham (PLA) won by decision over Hunter Bennett (EV); 5-0. 3. Ashton Dane (PLA) won by major decision over Nolan Osborn (TL); 11-2.
113 — 1. Scout Ashburn (PLA) won by fall over Zach Hartl (EV); 5:05. 3. Braxton Volk (PEN) won by decision over Ethan Kipp (TL); 9-4.
120 — 1. Tate Phillips (BUR) won by decision over Brock Kester (NO); 8-5. 3. Tristan Smith (EV) won by fall over Tristan White (ARAP); 1:35.
126 — 1. Adam Miller (EV) won by major decision over Brenner McLaughlin (TC); 15-4. 3. Lane Barton (MER) won by fall over Rafe Grebin (SUM); 1:52.
132 — 1. Jeremy Larson (BRA) won by major decision over Keagan Mosel (PLA); 12-4. 3. Archer Grint (TL) won by fall over John Tenbensel (CAM); 1:48.
138 — 1. Nate Chrstensen (PLA) won by major decision over Connor Sunderup (FUL); 12-4. 3. Austin Rudolph (NO) won by fall over Luke Henn (EPPJ); 4:04.
145 — 1. Dominic Stewart (TC) won by fall over Bode Wortman (PLA); 1:29. 3. Cooper Coons (TL) won by major decision over Cody Hanvey (CRE); 12-4.
152 — 1. Colby Coons (TL) won by major decision over Will Gunning (PLA); 13-3. 3. Aiden Kuester (NO) won by fall over Zachary Randall (PEN); 1:34.
160 — 1. Jackson Feulner (TC) won by decision over Matt Christensen (PLA); 6-4. 3. Josh Paisley (CAM) won by decision over Sam Vortherms (CRE); 14-8.
170 — 1. Alizae Mejia (PLA) won by decision over Alex Gideon (BUR); 6-1. 3. Conor Dempsey (NO) won by decision over Hunter Green (MER); 6-2.
182 — 1. Corey Dawe (BUR) won by fall over Dawson Kaup (NO); 2:31. 3. Bobby Evans (CAM) won by major decision over Lucas Hammer (PLA); 10-2.
195 — 1. Kaleb Pofahl (NO) won by fall over Colton Thiele (SUM); :57. 3. Wyatt Haverluck (MER) won by decision over Gavyn Clause (EV); 11-5.
220 — 1. Collin Gale (PLA) won by medical forfeit over Colton Klabenes (NO); 3. Jacob Busch (BUR) won by fall over Kaden Dady (BRA); 3:23.
285 — 1. Levi Kerner (ARAP) won by fall over Zacharia Kerwood (MER); 1:40. 3. Eric Hathaway (PEN) won by decision over Hunter Mayfield (BUR).