Senators, Tigers to grapple for Sierra League title

The Carson and Douglas high school wrestling teams -- both undefeated in Sierra League dual meets -- will collide for the championship to close out the regular season today in Minden.

So, what more can you ask of a high school rivalry?

"If you like wrestling, this is definitely something you'd like to see," Carson coach Tim McCarthy said. "We're two very evenly matched teams. We'll be pumped and I know they'll be pumped, so it should be pretty exciting."

Douglas (5-0, 10-3) hosts Carson (5-0, 14-0) in the dual, which is scheduled to get under way at 5 p.m.

Interestingly enough, the two teams met on the first day of the regular season, when Carson won the championship of its own Capitol City Duals with a 57-14 victory against Douglas. The rematch promises to be much closer.

"They've got kids moved around, and the way they wrestled us in certain individual matches at Sparks, they've made up a lot of ground," McCarthy said, referring to the Sparks Invitational on Jan. 12.

Douglas coach Bill Nickerson believes the Tigers have made progress over the course of the season, but he was unwilling make any real predictions about this match.

"It's got the potential to be a real good one, but it's got the potential to be not so good," Nickerson said. "Carson's tough. They're solid in every weight class. That's why they're so good, that's why they're so special. But we'll be ready. we're just as good and we're just as deep. It's just going to come down to who has the better night."

Look for some tough individual matchups along the way, according to both Nickerson and McCarthy.

"We match up well," Nickerson said. "We both agree that we have eight matches that could go either way," Nickerson said.

"Looking at the 14 matchups, we should win three, they should win three, and the other eight should be tossups," McCarthy said.

For example, opposing 103-pounders Erica Aguilera of Carson and Ryan Martinez have split their two matches this season. D'Art Johnson of Douglas edged Carson's Chris Kotter in a 152-pound match at the Sparks Invitational.

One potential showdown looms at 189 pounds, where Carson sophomore Nick Shine (18-2) could face Douglas senior Nathan Bennett.

Bennett has wrestled at 171 pounds most of the season -- a weight class where he finished as the state runner-up last year -- but he was unbeaten this past Saturday in the 189-pound division during a four-way meet held at Carson.

"That would be a great high school match," McCarthy said. "You'd have a kid who was second at state last year and I believe the only loss he's had this year was to (Reno's) Travis Longobardo in overtime. And even though Nick is only a sophomore, he's establishing himself as one of the best wrestlers in the North."

If history holds true, this showdown could come down to the wire.

Last year, for example, Carson heavyweight Mike Moore came from behind and won by pin in the final minute of the third round to give the Senators a 33-27 victory in Minden. In 1989, Douglas was a 30-28 victor at home against Carson in a showdown of unbeaten teams to clinch the Northern 3A conference championship. In 1988, Carson's 32-match win streak was ended at home by Douglas, 28-27. Carson and Douglas also shared conference dual meet titles in 1980 and '81.

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