For South Sioux first-year wrestling coach Evan Bohnet, it's been a successful season.
The season hasn't concluded, though, and South Sioux is sending five wrestlers to the Class A Nebraska state tournament in Lincoln. The tournament starts on Thursday.
Peyton Martinez (120 pounds), Axel Hernandez (132), Adan Curiel (170), Luis Quezada (220) and Jacob Ngeleka (285) all qualified for state for the Cardinals, and Bohnet wants them all to just enjoy themselves at the state tournament.
"I think the expectations are what they have been all year long. Have fun and do your best," Bohnet said. "I don't put a numerical value on it. If we wrestle well and go 0-2, that's okay. If we wrestle well and get gold, that's great. I am really proud of these kids. Our whole team is full of really good kids. Qualifying for state is not easy."
Quezada goes in as a district champ, giving him a high seed. Quezada, a senior, is 27-6 on the season. His first round match is against Mikey Vasquez (30-10) and a win could put Quezada against Kasten Grape, who is 48-2. But that would be Quezada's toughest match on his side of the bracket.
"Luis can win the state championship. He's shown that over the last week when he beat the Creighton Prep kid who was in the top three. There's no doubt in my mind that he can come away with a gold medal," Bohnet said. "He is very dominant in all of his wins. He needs to wrestle a six-minute match and not just rely on a pin and has to be in good position. If he does that, he can beat anyone in the state, no doubt in my mind."
Martinez is a freshman and is 22-6 on the season at 120. He faces Jaxon Morrow (26-13) in the first round and Martinez has a favorable draw. Bohnet isn't worried about any nerves with Martinez because even though he's a freshman, Martinez has been wrestling for about 10 years now.
"He's in a real tough weight class. He just needs to wrestle his match. He's a freshman but he has plenty of wrestling experience," Bohnet said. "He's wrestled in big tournaments so this won't seem any bigger than normal. He has to just stay on his offensive attacks. When he does that, he will do just fine. He's wrestled so much where this isn't anything new to him. he will be just fine."
Hernandez is a senior and it's his first trip to the state tournament. Hernandez is 20-16 on the season and faces Kolby Lukasiewicz (23-11) in the first round of the 132-pound bracket.
"Axel is a great kid. Not qualifying last year left a bitter taste and he came back this year with a new attitude," Bohnet said. "He really works hard in practice and is always giving 100 percent. I will put him against anyone in the state and he will give everything he has."
Ngeleka is a returning state qualifier at 285 pounds. The junior is 26-13 on the season and he faces Conner Cowling (39-0) in the first round.
"He has a tough opening round match and if this kid isn't ready for Jacob, it's a big upset," Bohnet said. "Jacob has been in and out of the rankings. He pace can't be matched by other heavyweights with his high tempo. As long as he stays aggressive, he will do great."
Junior Adan Curiel is 21-10 on the season and has Gus Franzen (29-8) in the first round at 170 pounds.
"He's adapted to my coaching style. He's taken it to heart and put that into his wrestling. He's gotten better by doing the basics right," Bohnet said. "His draw is as good as anyone else's. Adan can wrestle with the best of them. He just has to focus and wrestle hard for six minutes."