Second best in the Silver State doesn’t have a bad ring to it.
The Greenwave wrestling team converted three of four into state champions on Saturday as they finished with a second-place team finish, tied for the highest finish in school history. Fallon also led the field with the most pins (12) in the 2014 NIAA Division I-A State High School Wrestling Championships at the Primm Valley Resort’s Star of the Desert Arena.
“Taking four kids into the finals was great. I wish that we got a couple of seniors in there but it didn’t happen,” said sophomore Trae Workman, who won the 145-pound weight class title. “But overall, the team did great. It’s just all the losses we had in the (consolation and championship) finals is what I think really set us back and took that first place trophy away from us.”
Lowry successfully defended last year’s state title by winning the 2014 tournament with 155 points, while Fallon easily took second with 117.5. Pahrump Valley and Virgin Valley tied for third and Spring Creek rounded out the top five with 75.
“To beat Lowry, we needed help in the first two rounds,” Fallon coach Mitch Overlie said. “We also needed to get a few upsets of our own, which we didn’t get. It feels great to get some champions and climb the standings, but we left some matches out there.”
With his team wrestling under increased awareness because of the school district’s decision not to allow Overlie to coach in the spring, and possibly next season, he felt the team rose to the challenge but felt Fallon didn’t duplicate the regional performance.
“We ended the season on a high, and I can’t express with words how well the athletes wrestled under the circumstances surrounding the team,” Overlie said. “I think all of the buzz going on added some extra umph in some cases and pressure in others. It just seemed like we were missing some of the magic from the week prior.”
Greenwave sophomores Sam Goings (138) and Workman (145) and junior David Hughes (160) each capped off an undefeated run against the Division I-A by winning the team’s first individual championship since Colin Merkley in 2010, Fallon’s last year in Division I.
Goings pinned his first two opponents – Desert Pines’ Eric Awa-Moppert and Lowry’s Gabe Molina – to advance to the title match against Faith Lutheran’s Trenton Dolby. Goings, though, needed all three periods to outlast Dolby as he won, 7-3, to give Fallon its first state champ of the afternoon and first in four years.
“It feels right to be a champion. I’ve worked really this year and it paid off,” Goings said. “State champion has been my goal since freshman year and this year nobody was going to take it from me.”
But the Greenwave were just getting started.
Fallon’s only wrestler to place in one of the toughest tournaments in the country, the Reno Tournament of Champions in December, continued his dominating streak. But Workman, knowing that Overlie’s future is uncertain, wanted to win one for coach.
“I knew this might be coach Overlie’s last year coaching wrestling so I defiantly wanted to win him a state title,” Workman said. “There was no way we could (for the team title), so we just had to get individual state titles and settle for that.”
Workman, like Goings, pinned his first two opponents before a technical fall in the championship gave him his first state title. Workman pinned Moapa Valley’s Jake Repp 51 seconds into the second period, and took down Western’s Daniel Zelaya with 1:29 left in the third period of the semifinal round. Workman didn’t let up in the title bout as he raced to a 16-0 lead early in the third period to win by technical fall.
Hughes continued his comeback story, wrestling in only his second tournament of the season.
The junior grappler said watching Goings and Workman win their titles before his match gave him extra motivation and confidence.
“I was really excited about my win and I believe when Sam and Trae won their state titles, it helped energize and motivate me,” Hughes said.
Workman, though, said watching Hughes come back at last week’s regional to qualify for state helped the team realize its potential in Primm. Workman said a short conversation between medal presentations at last year’s state tournament appeared to set Hughes on a one-way route to winning state.
“He said ‘I’m tired of getting second,’ so I knew he wanted it bad and the injury made it even a stronger want to win,” Workman recalled. “It definitely gave some inspiration to me and I think to the younger guys that just because you’re hurt it doesn’t mean you can’t win. If you have the will to win, anything is possible.”
Hughes alternated pins on Saturday as he pinned Mojave’s Anthony Tario in the second period of the quarterfinal round and then beat Pahrump Valley’s Jon Corrow, 7-1. Hughes met Moapa Valley’s Jared Repp in the championship as he pinned the Southern Nevada opponent at the 1:07 mark in the final period. “I couldn’t ask for any other coaches as they pushed me on and if the mat,” Hughes said about his recovery. “The state title has been my goal for years now and after I hurt my knee in July, I didn’t think I would accomplish my goal this year. But with the help of physical therapy, the school trainer and Coach O, I was able to wrestle and capture a state title. I do not believe I would have been able to wrestle this year if Coach O didn’t push me to get me on the mat when he did.”
Fallon placed four additional wrestlers in the top four.
Seniors Anthony Sabatino (126) advanced to the championship match but fell to finish second, Ricky Rogers (220) took third and Jesse Francki (182) and senior Dakota Schelling (195) each finished fourth to give Fallon seven medalists out of 10 wrestlers.
Sabatino pinned Desert Pines’ Ramon Verduzco with 17 seconds left in the second period and then beat Chaparral’s Miguel Guerra, 7-6, to advance to the championship. Faith Lutheran’s Owen Lawrie, though, ended Sabatino’s chances at a state title early, pinning him 43 seconds into the match.
Rogers began the day on the right foot, pinning Boulder City’s William Dunagan in the second period, but he fell to Clark’s Edwin Centeno in the first period of the semifinal. Rogers, though, battled back to pin Cheyenne’s Guillermo Prieto in the second period before pinning Pahrump Valley’s Jeremy Coats in the second period of the third-place match.
Schelling opened the tournament with a third-period pin over Clark’s Paul Menard but fell to Menard’s teammate, Michel Hervis, in the first period of the semifinal. Schelling scored a major decision (8-0) over Elko’s Angel Lievanos but fell to Pahrump Valley’s Jaxon Clayton in the second period of the third-place battle.
Francki had to battle from behind after losing his first bout to Western’s Andrew Solis, 8-6. Francki, dropped Spring Creek’s Brennan Reese, 13-9, and then pinned Boulder City’s Nelson VanDiest with 18 seconds left in the match. Francki, though, ran out of luck, losing to Desert Pines’ Allan Isaguirre, 9-4, in the third-place match.
Freshman Jack Swisher (132) came one win away from placing while freshman Dylan McAfee (113) and junior Jordan Schultz (145) each lost their two matches.
Swisher was pinned by Virgin Valley’s Hunter Woods 14 seconds into the second period of the quarterfinal but scored a 3-1 win over Pahrump Valley’s Nick Nelson to advance to the consolation semifinal against Western’s Alex Richardson. Swisher, though, was pinned in the second period.
McAfee was pinned in his only two bouts against Western’s Erik Gonzalez and Virgin Valley’s Ty Rappleye, while Schultz lost to Western’s Daniel Zelaya in a high scoring affair (16-11) to open the tournament. Moapa Valley’s Jake Repp pinned Schultz in the second period to end his run at state.
“The Greenwave parents, wrestlers and coaches were terrific. It was a great experience,” Overlie said.