PRIMM — Underclassmen stole the show for Carson High’s wrestling team at Saturday’s NIAA State Wrestling Championships at Star of the Desert Arena.
Junior Nolan Shine and sophomore Brady O’Keefe both finished in second place, while senior Nicholas Lani concluded his CHS career with a third-place finish.
The news wasn’t quite as good for the other CHS participants. Junior Brady Rivera (182) went 1-2, losing two straight after winning his opener, 11-8, over Centennial’s Julian Whitehead.
Senior Kyle Sharp went 1-2 at 132, and freshman Brandon Basa went 0-2 at 106.
Carson reached its goal of going undefeated and winning its sixth consecutive Sierra League title, and placed second at regionals under first-year head coach Paul Carter.
“I’m pleased with what we did this year,” Carter said moments after Shine’s championship match. “I wish we had won regionals and had a state champion. We lost some good kids, but we have some good kids coming back,”
Shine won two close matches to reach the finals, knocking off Green Valley’s Jeremiah Brewer, 5-4, and Palo Verde’s David Geiger, 5-3, in the semifinals. He lost 12-4 in the finals.
“I knew he was coming on at the end of the season,” Carter said. “He had a good regional tournament. I don’t know if I expected him to make the state finals. I’m very, very pleased. I’m excited for him next year.”
In the finals against Las Vegas’ Antonio Jauregui, the pair were scoreless after the first period. Shine started on the bottom in the second period and went ahead 1-0 on an escape. Jauregui reeled off five straight points on a takedown and three-point near fall for a 5-1 lead before Shine scored on an escape to make it 5-2 after two period.
Jauregui had an escape to start the third period, and then worked a takedown to make it 8-2. After an escape by Shine, Jaurgeui had a takedown and two-point near fall, while allowing just two escape points in the fianl two minutes.
O’Keefe opened his tournament with a 7-4 win over Alec Aragon of Silverado, and then edged Cimarron’s Michael Brnson in the semis, 3-2, setting up a championship battle against Storm Roper of Liberty.
O’Keefe fell behind 2-0 in the first period, and following an escape, gave up a late takedown in the second period to fall behind 4-1. He managed only an escape in the final period and lost 7-2.
“Unfortunately he got controlled in the final match,” Carter said. “He had some opportunities to make things happen. For a sophomore to make it to the state finals is great.”
Lani lost his opener 8-3, but came back to beat Garrett Wallace of Gorman, 2-0, and then McQueen’s Kenny Vandal, 15-3, and Guillermo Rios, 14-2. Lani had been bothered by a knee injury heading into the event.
“The guy he wrestled in the first round (Green Valley’s Nick Klanian) was tough,” Carter said. “After that, he came out and beat some pretty good kids decisively. I’m very happy with the way he finished.”
Rivera had championship on his mind, but after beating Whitehead 11-8, he lost 5-1 to Roosevelt Smith of Canyon Springs in the semis. That sent him into an elimination match against Damonte’s Rory Anderson.
Rivera had won a controversial 6-4 overtime decision in the regional finals, and beat him in the regular-season dual. The third time was the charm for Anderson, who grabbed a 3-2 win and eventually went on to finish third.
“Brady had beaten Anderson twice,” Carter said. “It’s tough to beat somebody three times. I don’t know whether he was prepared or not for this time, He had a tough go.”
Basa lost 7-2 and suffered a second-round pin.
“The only thing with Brandon is that he’s undersized,” Carter said. “He’s always giving up weight. He’s barely 100 pounds. Hopefully he’ll grow into that weight class. He had a good season.”
Sharp, who had a hip injury, won his opening match 5-1, but was pinned by Green Valley’s Jared Brathor in the third round and then lost to Manogue’s Max McReynolds, 9-5.
“His weight class was loaded,” Carter said. “It had two state champs in it. I thought he would have wrestled a little better (against McReynolds). I felt he was better than anybody he faced in the north this year.”