OMAHA — Doug Denson is headed to the bike shop. Korbin Meink is headed to Campbell University, Christian Miller is headed to Northern Illinois, Chance Fry is going to prepare for his senior season and Connor Clanton is likely headed to medical school.
"You put in all that time, and boom, it's over before you know it," said Fry, the Lincoln Southeast Class A champion at 132 pounds.
He avenged two losses to Nick James of Kearney with a 10-5 victory in the championship match Saturday at CenturyLink Center Omaha.
"I can't wait to try this again," Fry said. "Maybe I won't have a sore knee, a sore shoulder and whatever else hurts right now."
For the others, this was the last state wrestling tournament.
Meink of Omaha Skutt and Miller of Plainview each won their fourth state titles — expanding the all-time list to 28 wrestlers since 1947.
For Denson, who coached Millard South to seven state Class A titles — including Saturday's — this climb to the medal stand with his team was the last time before giving up teaching English to run a bicycle shop in west Omaha.
Denson never thought he'd ever coach a state championship wrestling team.
The 35-year coaching veteran had coached in all four classes and finally started making the trips up the championship stand.
"The whole purpose of coaching is to give kids the opportunity to achieve and get the best they can," he said. "I always hoped we all made a difference in coaching and you hope some kids make it to the top. But even if they don't win, it's great to see they have hope and they are willing to work and put in the time."
Now, he's going to run a bicycle shop, Bike Motion, where he's spent part of the last 10 summers.
"It's a nice break and it's fun," he said. "And, you can bet I'll stick around the kids wrestling program at Millard South."
For Clanton, the 220-pound champion from Lincoln Southwest, there may be wrestling in college, but more likely pre-med school at TCU or Creighton.
"I can't believe I got here but coach (Aaron) Finley had us work on conditioning so hard, I was ready," said Clanton. "Even the nights to 11 p.m. when we'd be working on some moves or running. I never thought I'd get here and now, I'm not sure I want to leave."
Meink said the long haul worked for him, too.
"Twelve years of this has paid off," said the four-time champ, who won at 126 pounds this year. "I hung on to my dreams and to Devontae (Gutierrez of Scottsbluff) those last seconds. I always wanted to be like Thomas Gilman (a four-time champ from Skutt, who is now No.1-ranked at Iowa.)"