Syracuse junior Matt Clark pinned his two Class B opponents Thursday during the opening rounds of the state wrestling championships.
Nothing new there.
Clark has pinned every opponent he's faced this season as he goes for a second straight state heavyweight title. The only time Clark's matches haven't ended in pins is when he's won by forfeit.
“I've had kids who have been good pinners, but never had anyone who's pinned everyone in a season. It's pretty rare for that to take place,” Syracuse coach Chad Fuller said. “It would be a cool thing if he can (pin his last two opponents), but we'll take a one-point win, too.”
Clark improved his season record to 43-0 Thursday as he spent a total of four minutes on the mat.
After pinning Nicholas Weber of Aurora with 88 seconds in the first round, Clark led Lexington's Luis Nunez 2-0 after the first period in the quarterfinals. Starting the second period in the down position, Clark quickly got Nunez on his back and recorded the pin 33 seconds into the period.
“You don't see a lot of heavyweights who move like he does. We're pretty good on our feet, but probably we're even better on top,” Fuller said. “Overall, he's just a pretty good wrestler. I think he gets better every time out.”
After going 0-2 at state as a freshman heavyweight, Clark said he worked to become better on his feet. Clark won last year's title with a 42-2 record, pinning three opponents before earning a 3-0 decision over Trenton Kasbohm of Nebraska City in the final.
“I really worked on that last year because my freshman year I didn't shoot much,” Clark said. “Last year, I started moving more on my feet and this year I've gotten a lot better on my feet.”
His movement, along with his size, helped Clark become an All-Nebraska football lineman last season — he was listed at 6-foot-5, 290 pounds during football. He's getting interest from Nebraska and Wisconsin in football, and UNK is watching him closely in wrestling.
“Matt's a pretty special wrestler,” Fuller said. “He just goes out and wrestles his style. He doesn't get overly excited or panic when a kid tries a big move against him. He goes out and wrestles within himself, and that's what kind of kid he is.”
Clark will be tested in Friday's semifinals as he faces York senior Ronaldo Trevino, who placed sixth at state last year and is 46-1 this season. The other semifinal features Boys Town's Luis Pena and Scottsbluff's Andrew Aratani, whom Clark pinned in the state semifinals last season.
Clark knows repeating as champion won't be easy.
“Everyone is gunning for me. No one is going to let me win, they're going to fight hard,” Clark said. “That's the toughest part this year, everyone just comes out and hammers at me.”
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Video: Sights and sounds from Thursday at Nebraska State Wrestling