OMAHA — Korbin Meink was there watching in 2012 when Thomas Gilman became a four-time Nebraska state wrestling champion.
Meink liked what he saw. Flash forward a few years, and Meink joined that awesome club on Saturday when he won this fourth state title with a 3-2 decision against Devontae Gutierrez of Scottsbluff in the Class B 126-pound championship match.
“I watched Thomas Gilman,” Meink said. “That’s when I was like, 'Wow, I want to go to Skutt, I want to be like Thomas Gilman.' And I’m one step closer.”
Gilman wrestles at Iowa, where he was national runner-up last season. Meink is going to wrestle at Campbell University in North Carolina.
Meink became the 27th to join the group of four-time state champions. A little later that group got No. 28 when Christian Miller of Plainview won his fourth.
Meink's fourth title was in doubt until the final seconds of the match, but he held on. After the match was over Gutierrez helped Meink get up, and raised his arm along with the official.
Once Meink was announced as the newest four-time champ, he got a standing ovation. First he hugged his coaches, and then he jumped over a railing that separates the crowd from the mats so he could hug his family.
“I was thinking, 'Holy crap, 12 years paid off,'" Meink said. "But then I saw my coach and I saw all my family and a small little hurdle to get over. I did hurdles in junior high, so that was fine."
Meink says his family has been a big part of this.
"I hope they know how thankful I am for them being here and supporting me through the years and putting up with my cutting-weight attitude," Meink said.
Meink won his first title at 106 pounds, and then the whispers began about the possibilities, except for some weren’t even whispers.
“Especially after my first one when everyone was like, 'Oh, you won as a freshman, so does that mean you’re going to be a four-timer?'" Meink said. "That wasn’t even in my head at the time. I was like, 'I just want to be a two-timer now.'"
Meink won again as a sophomore at 113 pounds, and then at 120 last year, setting up the pressure-packed finish to his prep career.
“That’s hard to do four years in a row for sure,” said Omaha Skutt coach Chas DeVeter. “There is a lot of good kids out there. You might get one year where your bracket is not as tough, but there is no way you’ll get four years. You’re going to have to beat a lot of really, really good kids to become a four-time state champ.”
Meink had a 38-3 record this year and was 161-10 for his career. His losses this year were when he moved up a class to wrestle Nick James from Kearney, and against two out-of-state wrestlers at a big national meet.
There is a whole lot of work and sacrifice that goes into what Meink just did, DeVeter said.
“Since he was 4 years old he’s been working on that dream,” he said. “That’s not a start when you get to high school thing.”