For years in the old 4A, the Greenwave wrestling program was one of the best in the region and contended nearly every season in being the Silver State’s top dog.
But since moving down to the former 3A (now Division I-A) four years ago, Mitch Overlie’s club is still trying to find its place among the elite in the state’s second-largest class. Turning in its best season in the new division last season, the Greenwave sent four to the state finals but came up empty handed as Fallon went from second to fourth in the final tournament of the year.
Although no wrestler has won a state championship since Colin Merkley, it hasn’t stopped the Greenwave from showing up before sunrise every morning and coming back after class in the afternoon to accomplish the ultimate goal every wrestler dreams of achieving. For this year’s grapplers, four state medalists return along with 13 freshmen as Fallon tries again — like the rest of the division — to dethrone powerhouse Lowry for state supremacy.
“This year looks very promising,” Fallon coach Mitch Overlie said. “We have several returning wrestlers and all but one of last year’s state qualifiers are back including runner-up Sam Goings, third-place Nate Heck and runner-up Dakota Schelling.”
Fallon returns experience from last year’s squad after the Greenwave inched closer to battling Lowry for state bragging rights. Forfeits during the regular-season duals continued to haunt Fallon. If Fallon fielded all 14 classes, the Greenwave could have won the dual as most of Lowry’s points came off forfeits.
Thirty-seven wrestlers turned out for the Greenwave this season, including 17 upperclassmen (10 seniors and seven juniors). The large turnout could make it easier for Overlie to fill each of the weight classes, which include 106 pounds, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285. But the problem each season has been fielding multiple wrestlers in most classes, leaving a handful empty.
This month’s schedule, however, gives Overlie and assistant coaches Dan Shaw, Trevor de Braga and Ryan McCormick time to assess each wrestler and which weight class he will help the team out the best.
Fallon opens the season today with a non-league dual before the annual Earl Wilkens/Lee Riggins Memorial Tournament on Friday and Saturday at the Elmo Dericco Gym. The Greenwave travel to Lowry, Pershing County and Reno for tournaments this month. The Reno Tournament of Champions showcases the best wrestlers in the region, while the Sierra Nevada Classic offers a glimpse of what to expect during the postseason with most Northern Nevada and California, Oregon and Idaho schools competing.
League duals are in two months at Fernley with the top qualifiers advancing to the regional tournament at Sparks. State is Feb. 21-22 and will be held at a southern Nevada high school.
The Greenwave will rely on a mixture of upper and underclassmen this season, including four state medalists.
Senior Dakota Schelling, juniors David Hughes and Nathan Heck, and sophomore Sam Goings each medaled in last season’s state tournament at the Reno Livestock Events Center. Schelling, Hughes and Goings, though, each lost in their championship matches while Heck won his final bout to take third.
Goings ran into a brick wall facing Lowry’s Daniel Pollock in the finals after cruising through the bracket with a pin and decision. Elko’s multiple-state champ prevented Hughes from winning the crown in his second championship appearance. Schelling also ran into bad luck as Lowry’s Michael Billingsley capped off a perfect career winning four-straight state titles.
But that bitter taste of falling short in the finals and ending the season with a second-place team finish has left the Greenwave hungry for more this season and another opportunity to build off improvement.
Along with the four medalists, Fallon returns four wrestlers who qualified for the state tournament.
Senior Anthony Sabatino was one win away from advancing to the medal round, while seniors Ricky Rodgers and Robert White and sophomore Wyatt Hampton each wrestled in two matches.
The rest of the senior class includes Michael Abe, Jesse Francki, Clay Amezquita, Ryan Merkley, Aramando Venegas and Orion Wolf, while Jacob Benson, Kyle Grimes, Louie Mori, Jordan Schultz and Talon Uptain make up the juniors. The sophomore class also includes Bryson Abe, Cameron Matzen, Mason Morrison, Edsel Porto and Justin Scroggin.
New to the team are freshmen Kobe Abe, Adran Chambers, Chandler Clevenger, Billy Coleman, Isaac Kelsey, Justin Marlin, Chad Martyn, Dylan McAfee, Kendall Rogers, Tucker Stritenberger, Jack Swisher, Brock Uptain and Terry White.