For more than 40 years, the Earl Wilkens/Lee Riggins Memorial Tournament has been a staple for the Fallon wrestling program.
The tradition continues today and Saturday when 11 Northern Nevada schools converge on the Elmo Dericco Gym for the season’s first tournament.
Today’s wrestling begins at 2 p.m. Saturday’s action starts at 8:30 a.m. Each school is scheduled for nine dual matches.
Schools participating are Fallon, Elko, Lowry, Dayton, Incline, Silver Stage, Spanish Springs, Truckee, Rite of Passage, Yerington and South Tahoe (Saturday only).
“There are going to be some tough teams,” Fallon coach Mitch Overlie said.
For Overlie, though, the main goal of the two-day event is to get his grapplers on the mat. Nine matches over two days provides the opportunity to evaluate where each athlete stands early in the season.
In addition, it also allows Overlie and his staff to get a look at some Northern Division I-A opponents such as Lowry and Elko.
“I want to see them aggressive and trying to work their position,” he said. “Some of these young kids are trying to do too much. We want the kids to understand who they are.”
One positive for the program, though, is depth. More than 25 athletes packed the wrestling room for practice on Tuesday, an encouraging sign for Overlie.
Last year’s club battled with numbers, especially at the heavier weights. But like last year’s team, this season’s squad is loaded from 138- to 152-pounds.
“It looks like we will have close to a full (varsity) roster,” Overlie said. “I’ve got three or four kids (between 138 and 152) that I want in my lineup. Some will have to go up (in weight) and some down. We are going to be strong and deep, and that’s something we haven’t had in awhile.”
Overlie has a goal of creating one of the toughest tournaments in the North but must first create the reputation and secure the squads. A helpful addition to the tournament, though, has been the addition of a second day.
Last year marked the first time for a two-day event, which added another four matches early in the season. Mat time is a key component for wrestlers, especially for the newcomers, and Overlie is using that aspect to draw teams.
“What’s great about Fallon is the community support,” Overlie said. “We got the Chamber of Commerce … and the parent support has been great. I would like it to get a little bigger.”
His idea for additional teams also stems from relationships with other coaches in California, Idaho and Southern Nevada. Future dates of the tournament, however, may have to be altered as to draw some of the out-of-state clubs and also to avoid going against the Capitol City Duals in Carson City.
“We want to be able to invite teams up here and say ‘We can get you nine, 10 matches,’” he said. “We want to make this one of the toughest first-of-the-year tournaments. It’s got to be word of mouth, for one, and that 10 match thing is huge. We have to do well in tournaments.”