It was an impressive start to open the season.
The Fallon wrestling team showed its potential with a 7-1 record at the annual Earl Wilkens/Lee Riggins Memorial Tournament at the Elmo Dericco Gym last weekend.
Although impressive, the Greenwave faltered against Division I-A rival and five-time defending state champion Lowry in the teams’ head-to-head dual match.
Fallon raced out to an early lead with wins by Trae Workman, Cameron Matzen and Sam Goings, but the Buckaroos ripped off six straight wins to secure the win. Clay Amezquita also picked up a victory, but Lowry had already established too big of a lead.
“We did crumble and couldn’t stop the bleeding,” Fallon coach Mitch Overlie said. “That was pretty tough. I know they are not happy that some of their big dogs went down. They are big dogs, but I think my dogs a little bigger.”
Despite the loss, and only five days of practice under their belt, Overlie said he is pleased with the potential shown at the tournament. Returning numerous state qualifiers including Goings, Amezquita, Workman, Richard Rogers, Dakota Schelling, Nathan Heck and Anthony Sabatino.
Adding depth to a stacked roster is Matzen, who did not wrestle last season. He was nationally ranked as a youth grappler and joins a lineup with potential to win a state title.
“We got to learn, we got a long season ahead of us,” Overlie said. “We should be a force.”
Most teams including Fallon, though, are still juggling the weight classes. Many of Fallon’s grapplers competed in classes above their normal weights, but by the end of the month Overlie expects to have solidified his roster.
One wrestler the long-time coach said he must find a spot is Heck, who competed with the JV team during the tournament. The issue, like last season, is to find a weight class due to a logjam in the 138- to 152-pound range.
“We’ve got to find a way to get Heck in the lineup,” Overlie added. “I got guys on the bench who shouldn’t be second string. Those guys will get in the lineup somehow, I’m sure.”
Despite the early-season loss to Lowry, Overlie said it was a good learning experience for his club. A win may have brewed an air of overconfidence, while the reality is Fallon must become more gritty to unseat the champs.
“They are the state champs,” Overlie said. “They don’t defend it, we have to earn it. We’ve got a ways to go and we have to fight through that adversity. I’m glad we lost … hopefully we can take it to the next level.”
The Wave was scheduled to compete at a tournament in Lowry, but Overlie was able to secure a five-match tournament in Sacramento on Saturday.
“It’s a five-match guarantee and I like that,” he added. “Lowry is only an individual tournament, so some kids may only get two matches.”