Homecoming for wrestling ref Clendon Snipes

Some fond, memories were rekindled when Clendon Snipes walked into Morse Burley Gymnasium at Carson High School on Saturday morning to work as a mat official for the Capitol City Duals wrestling tournament.

Nearly 13 years have passed since Snipes secured a Nevada large schools state championship as a senior 145-pound wrestler, but it really doesn't seem so long ago.

"This is kind of a homecoming," said Snipes, 30, who now lives in Las Vegas. "I haven't been here in, shoot, 13 years. It's great to come back and see how the school has changed and how it's grown. It's neat."

There were obviously many memories from the 1987-88 season when he compiled a 42-1 record, the lone loss coming at the high-powered Sierra Nevada Classic in Reno.

"Absolutely," he said. "The very mat that I wrestled on is still here, it has the same CC logo on the front. And to walk up the stairs and have those memories, with my name on the wall and all those before me, it's really a nice tradition to see."

An even dozen Carson wrestlers have won individual state championships, but Snipes is the last to accomplish the feat. He was also part of a Carson program that won four consecutive Northern zone championships between 1986 and '89. Carson's 1986 team finished as a state runner-up behind Eldorado - the first in a string of seven straight state team championships for the Eldorado Sundevils.

"We only lost by two points to nemesis Eldorado," Snipes said. "It was exciting to be part of that program in '86. The tradition continued in '87 and '88, we had some great kids, and then the year after I left, we had a couple of guys shooting for the state title.

"To not have a state champion for 13 years is really surprising, but I think we've got a good shot this year," Snipes said. "I see two wrestlers, (Justin) Sarnowski took second at state last year and (Doug) Brooks took zone. I really perceive both of those wrestlers having a state at state titles this year."

Ironically, Doug Brooks is the grandson of Bud Brooks, who coached the Carson teams that Snipes wrestled for.

"It sure is neat," Snipes said of the connection. "The family ties, the roots go deep here in Carson City, so it's nice to see two quality kids here who have a shot at the state title."

After graduating from high school, Snipes decided to concentrate on academics as opposed to wrestling.

"I actually had an offer to go wrestle for Lassen Junior College, and I had an academic scholarship to UNLV," he said. "I wish I could have done it over? Maybe, maybe not, but I'm happy where I'm at now."

Snipes, who now works for the Regent Las Vegas, was able to visit family this weekend with his wife, Renee, and 10-month-old daughter Makena. He was also up as part of an exchange program involving the Northern and Southern Nevada officials associations.

"Lenny Padilla and I volunteered to come up here. It's kind of an exchange we do every year," Snipes said. "It's a nice way to see the guys from the North and feel out the way they referee."

Even though he is just starting his third season as a high school referee, Snipes performed well enough last winter to receive an assignment to the Southern 4A zone tournament.

"It's not often a second-year official does zone, so I felt really privileged to be out on the mat in such a prestigious atmosphere," he said. "It'll be some time before I get to state, but it sure is nice to be able to come up here to officiate in Carson City.

"This is a lot of of fun for me. I like to give back what the sport gave to me. It's exciting. You wouldn't even have to pay me; I'd do this for free."

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