RANDOLPH — Drew Loberg, a 160-pound Class D wrestler from Randolph, was attempting to join a very small and very elite group of Four-Time State Finalists last week at the Nebraska State Wrestling Championships, searching for his second state title to go along with two other state runner-up finishes.
Loberg was second as a freshman at 132, losing in the finals to a wrestler he had pinned all three previous meetings during the year, while going 42-6 on the 2014 season.
He placed second as a sophomore to Jayden Elge at 138, the only wrestler to defeat Loberg that year in a 39-3 season.
As a junior, Loberg won gold at 152 with a 48-1 record, losing only to Garret Allemang of Neligh in the first tournament of the year.
Loberg avenged that loss by beating Allemang three more times during the season, including in the district finals and the state final match.
Four weeks ago, Loberg fractured his thumb 10 seconds into his finals match at Battle Creek, but finished wrestling the last 5:50 of the match, not knowing it was fractured for sure until later, still winning 6-1 over a rated Class C wrestler.
Loberg was unable to wrestle, practice or even work out for three straight weeks. Before fracturing his right thumb, he was on pace to break several Class D State records, including his older brother Dylan’s Class D Single Season Pin Record of 42 and the State’s Class D Career Wins Record.
Loberg was 30-0 coming into the state tournament and had been ranked #1 or #2 every week during the last three years and 158-10 for his career, would have been among the state leaders for career wins had he not suffered the injury.
He missed 19 matches, which could have pushed his record to 177-10 before state.
Loberg beat many other decorated wrestlers this year to 150 wins in his career, such as Korbin Meink (4 Time Champ), Christian Miller (4 Time Champ), Brody Lewis, Colton Wolfe (4 Time Finalist) and Joey Harrison to name a few.
Loberg comes from a long history of successful family wrestlers, but he’s the only one that had a shot at becoming a four-time State Finalist.
His father, Darin Loberg, was a 30-5 155 lb. Class C State Champion in 1985 at Randolph.
His older brother Dylan was a two-time state finalist, placing 5th as a 29-9 freshman (losing a match to a senior and eventual state champion Brett Ryan of Cedar Valley in the district final in 4 OT) at 170 in Class D 2012. He was fourth in the state as a 31-6 sophomore at 182 in Class D. In 2013 he was second as a 41-2 junior at 195 in Class D 2014 and won a state title as a 48-0 senior at 195 pounds in Class D for Randolph in 2015, to close out a successful 149-17 career record.
He was considered one of the top 195-pound wrestlers that year regardless of class, having pinned or tech-falled every foe that year but one.
Both Dylan and Drew missed multiple tournaments over their four-year careers due to sickness’ and injuries, which kept them from climbing the career wins leader list.
Bill Gubbels (Drew’s uncle) was a 26-4 state champion for Randolph in 1977 at 138 in Class C and his boys (Drew’s first cousins) Kyle Gubbels was a two-time state champion in ‘01 (28-2 at Class D 152) and ‘02 (38-0 at Class D 160) and 5th (34-9 at Class D 145) as a sophomore in ‘00, finishing his career 132-21.
Casey Gubbels was a two-time state champion in ‘05 (40-0 at Class C 135) and ‘06 (40-0 at Class C 140) and 4th as both a freshman (26-11 at Class C 119 in ‘03) and sophomore (32-3 at Class C 125 in ‘04) and finishing his career at 138-14.
Jerad Gubbels was a two-time finalist in ‘08 (37-1 at Class D 145) and ‘09, winning gold in ‘09 (39-0 at Class D 160) and 3rd as both a freshman (25-4 at Class C 125) and sophomore (34-3 at Class C 130), finishing his career at 135-8.
Zachary Loberg of North Bend was a three-time state finalist (‘02,’03,’04) garnering second as a sophomore in ‘02 (33-5 at 171 Class C) and winning state titles his junior (38-0 at 189 Class C in ‘03) and senior (37-1 at 189 Class C in ‘04) seasons, finishing his career at 125-12.
Nathaniel Loberg, also of North Bend, was a three-time state qualifier in ‘04,’05 (24-15 at 275 Class C) and ‘06, finishing as the state runner-up as a senior (30-5 at 275 Class C) in ‘06 and 86-56 for his career (Drew’s first cousins).
Drew Loberg won his first two matches at state this year and advanced to the semifinals against Chandler Doncheski of Palmer, a wrestler Loberg had led 4-1 before pinning him in the second period in December. Loberg was upset 2-1 in the semifinals, in a match that was aided by a very controversial two-point near fall in the second period, all the while wrestling without the use of his right (dominant) thumb and unable to be in wrestling shape due to the long layoff. Loberg also owned a 13-4 win over runner-up Preston Walker of Elm Creek the previous week in the district finals.
Being the competitor he is, Loberg battled back to finish third on Saturday and cap off his season at 34-1 and his career at 162-11, which could have easily and ultimately been 181-10, without suffering the unfortunate injury.
That would have made him the Class D State Record holder for Career Wins and the #5 all time wins leader, regardless of class.
Ross Halford of HuskerMat tweeted about Loberg’s career as “One of the better Class D wrestlers in recent times.”
His season and the end of his career did not end as Loberg had hoped on top of the medal stand after a fourth state final appearance, but he walked off the mat with a win and a smile, ending an era of family wrestling dominance.