One more win and David Hughes would have been a high school All-American.
Instead, the Fallon wrestler fell short in his third-place bout and took fourth — missing the All-American honor by one spot — at the annual Reno Tournament of Champions on Saturday.
Still, taking fourth in the 180-pound weight class is no easy feat, considering Hughes has wrestled only about 20 matches in the past year.
He missed nearly all of last season with an injury but rebounded to win state at 160, and he has continued his growth with an impressive start to this season.
“That first match … my conditioning wasn’t there,” Hughes said. “After that match, I got some chocolate milk in me and started feeling a lot better. You just got to know you got to keep going.”
Joining Hughes in making waves at the TOC was junior Sam Goings, who placed sixth at 160. As a team, the Greenwave placed 42nd with 51 points out of 117 teams, while Poway (Calif.) won the team title with 209.
“They were incredible,” Fallon coach Louie Mori said. “Sam had some back spasms last week and missed the whole week of practice, and you could tell. David … you could really see the progression.”
Both said they started slow, but once they established their rhythm, no opponent was safe.
Hughes entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed and promptly pinned his first-round opponent before losing to North Medford’s (Ore.) Wyatt Westfall, 10-4, in the second round.
In the consolation bracket, Hughes ripped through the competition at will. He pinned his first two opponents, scored a 10-2 win over Jared Temple of Green Valley, then added another two pins to set up a rematch with Westfall.
Hughes prevailed with an 8-2 win then slipped past Clark Woodward of Crook County (Ore.), 8-7, in the consolation semifinal.
Hughes lost 16-7 to Jacob Armstrong of Salem Hills (Utah) in the third-place match.
“I lost early … but I got my energy back and felt it going,” Hughes said. “Sam was wrestling before me and kept winning, so I knew I had to keep winning to keep up with him. I couldn’t let him stay by himself in the tournament.”
Goings, meanwhile, struggled in his first bout with Reno’s Deyvn Cox. Cox nearly piined Goings in the first period, but the Fallon standout was able to avoid the loss and exit the first period in tact.
Goings then turned the tables and pinned Cox in the second period to advance. From there, he pinned Jon Paulk of McQueen, but was pinned by Reese Neville of Yerington for the second time in consecutive weeks.
In the consolation bracket, Goings beat Jesse Johnson of Vacaville (Calif.), 11-3, dropped Tyler Turco of Ponderosa (Colo.), 6-0, got past seventh-seeded John Leal of Chico (Calif.), 5-1, and Spencer Heywood of Wasatch (Utah), 3-2.
Goings, though, lost to Roseburg’s (Ore.) David Harker, 7-3, and third-seeded Taylor Owens of Borah (Idaho) in the fifth-place bout.
“The first match I didn’t wrestle well at all,” Goings said. “After the loss, I just told myself to wrestle. If you can get your rhythm going and kick the crap out of some kids, it really helps.”
As for the rest of the team, the Wave struggled to find its footing.
Senior Jordan Schultz (145) scored an opening round win with a pin in 15 seconds over Bishop Manogue’s Bryce Atkins, but Schultz was pinned in his second bout to eventual champ Bryce Parson of Lewiston (Idaho) and followed with another loss in the consolation bracket.
Daylan McAfee (120) was the only other Fallon grappler to earn a win, when he won his first-round bout by pin.
“The young kids panicked, I think,” Mori said. “There were a couple kids who wrestled OK. Jordan, he just ran into a couple tough kids.”