Brady Rivera made his intentions clear last weekend after winning his first regional title, and he is sticking to that statement.
“I’m going to state with the mindset of winning the title,” he said after beating Damonte’s Rory Anderson in overtime to win the 182-pound title. “I won’t be happy if I leave Las Vegas without a gold medal. In my mind if I don’t win I don’t even want to think about it. The trip would be a waste.
“I feel like I’m in great shape. I’ve been wrestling better than ever. I know what I want to do out there.”
Rivera, 33-8 overall, starts his title quest Saturday morning in Primm when he faces Centennial’s Julian Whitehead (5-3 in post-season) in the first round. On Rivera’s side of the bracket are Roosevelt Smith (9-0) of Canyon Springs and Cimarron Memorial’s Jessie Ramos (7-1). Elvin Cruz of Shadow Ridge (8-0) is on the other side of the bracket.
When told of Rivera’s comments, coach Paul Carter just smiled.
“I like to see that,” Carter said. “He’s not happy if he doesn’t win, and there is nothing wrong with that. He’s tough. Winning the tourney last week meant a lot to him.”
Rivera said he doesn’t know any of his competitors other than Anderson and Zach Singer of Douglas, and that’s fine with him.
“I’m indifferent about it,” Rivera said. “Knowing an opponent can be both an advantage and disadvantage. I’d rather just see a face and go out and wrestle. I might be able to see somebody (this weekend), it just depends on how things are set up. I have looked at Track Wrestling and Flo Wrestling, but nothing popped up.”
“Sometimes it hurts you and sometimes it helps you,” Carter said. “A few (Vegas) teams come to the Sierra Nevada Classic and TOC. In the past we’ve gone to Vegas tournaments. It makes it hard to predict, because you don’t know a whole lot about them.”
Rivera freely admits that he enjoys wrestling more than football because of the individuality of the sport.
“It’s just you,” he said. “There is nobody to blame if you lose or no one to give kudos if you win. I started to enjoy it (wrestling) more after my sophomore year. I was winning more often. There is no feeling like winning a match. It’s the best feeling.”
Rivera was fourth a year ago when the state tourney was in Reno.
Rivera is joined by teammates Nicholas Lani (138), Brady O’Keefe (145), Nolan Shine (152), Kyle Sharp (132) and Brandon Basa (106). Lani and Shine also were regional champions, O’Keefe was second, while Basa and Sharp qualified third.
Lani,37-7, was bothered by a knee injury, but gutted it out in the finals against Cole Drescher (10-0 win). He’ll face the winner of the pigtail match against Nick Klanian of Green Valley and Tyler Dinsmore of Palo Verde.
“That weight class is pretty wide open,” Carter said. “Nicholas is going to give it a go. It’s his senior year; his last tournament ever.”
Spring Valley’s Eduardo Penna (9-0) faces Drescher in he opening round, while Kenny Vandal of McQueen (6-2) faces Foothill’s Guillermo Rios (8-1) on the opposite side of the bracket. Lani would face Coronado’s Randle Crowley (7-1) or Gorman’s Garrett Wallace depending on whether he wins or loses.
Shine will be seeking to become the second member of his family to win a state title. Nick, a standout linebacker and wrestler and currently a firefighter in Las Vegas, won a state title as a member of the CHS team. Shine is 9-0 in the post-season. He’ll face Green Valley’s Jeremiah Brewer (7-1) in his opening match. He’ll face either Green Valley’s Jiar Meagher or Palo Verde’s David Geiger (6-2) in the second round.
O’Keefe enters the event with a 35-6 record. He lost to Reed’s Jake Otuafi in the regional finals last week. He will face Silverado’s Alex Aragon in his opening match. Cimarron’s Michael Barnson, 9-0, awaits the winner of the O’Keefe-Aragon match-up. Liberty’s Storm Roper, 8-0, Palo Verde’s Kayden Pierson, 7-1, Spring Valley’s Darrian Rodgers, 7-2, and Otuafi, 6-1, are on the other side.
“He is a wild card,” Carter said of O’Keefe. “He has a great move that if he can pull off can beat the best of the best. He has a chance to win his weight or he could go 0-2.”
Sharp posted more than 30 wins this year, and he has been bothered by a hip injury. He wrestles Arbor View’s Westyn Hamilton in the pigtail match. If he wins, he would face Green Valley standout Jared Brathor (9-0). Manogue’s Max McReynolds (7-2) and Jonah McKee (7-2) of Shadow Ridge are on the same side of the bracket. Defending champ Angel Laurente of Cimarron (9-0), Foothill’s Jacob Chavez (8-1), Liberty’s James Morimoto (5-2) and McQueen’s Auddie Sweet (9-0), who beat Sharp 9-7 in overtime, are on the other side of the bracket.
Basa has had a great freshman season (39-10), and he’d like nothing more than to get a couple of wins in his first state event. He faces Danny Diaz of Spring Valley (8-0) in the opening round. Depending on the result, he will get either Wally Zernich (9-0) of Green Valley or Manogue’s Bailey Bright (7-2). Wooster’s powerful Ian Timmins (6-1) waits on the other side.
“We knew he’d be good,” Carter said of Basa. “We didn’t how he would handle varsity. He’s done very well.”