SPARKS — Carson High didn’t have a individual champion, but the Senators still had a successful Saturday at the Northern Division 1 Wrestling Championships at Spanish Springs.
Nine Senators — Terin Keller (3rd, 106), Brandon Basa (2nd, 113), Kyle Rudy (3rd, 120), Nathan Mersino (2nd, 132), Brady O’Keefe (3rd, 138), Abel Carter (2nd, 170), Connor Sievers (3rd, 195), Corey Jasper (3rd, 220) and Sheldon Miller (3rd, heavyweight) — will make the trip to Primm for next Saturday’s state meet.
As a team, the Senators, who had a narrow lead after Friday’s action, finished second behind Spanish Springs. Spanish Springs finished with 203, Carson was at 171, McQueen at 143 and Reno was at 132.
“It was a good weekend,” said assistant coach Nick Redwine. “We’re sending nine down to state, so that’s pretty good. I’m happy. I don’t know if we expected to have any individual champions, but we had four or five guys that had good shots.
“There are a lot of good wrestlers here, and some of them wrestled out of their minds against us. I was hoping we would win the team title, but things didn’t go our way.”
Miller, O’Keefe and Basa have wrestled at state before, but it will be a new experience for others. For seniors like Sievers and Jasper, it’s a nice way to go out.
“I’ve never been to Las Vegas,” Jasper said. “I’ve never been to the southern part of the state.”
Basa came the closest to a title, and his championship loss was a heartbreaker.
After pinning Reno’s Frankie Giovanetti in the second round of their semifinal match, he went up against Spanish Springs’ Jacob Ruiz, a former teammate from his days with Damonte’s youth wrestling team.
Ruiz got a quick takedown for a 2-0 lead, but Basa scored a reversal to even the match. Little did anybody know that points would be at a premium the rest of the way.
Neither wrestler would score a point in the second and third periods, forcing an overtime. The duo battled through a 1-minute overtime and two 30-second overtimes before Ruiz scored for a 3-2 win. The takedown appeared to be out of bounds, and coach Justin Shine said he didn’t argue the call because the officials did confer before making a ruling.
“I wrestled 120s to get better competition,” Basa said.
Mersino also put up a good fight against Damonte’s Cameron Sandoval, who came away with a 7-3 victory in the title match. Mersino reached the finals by knocking off Dustin Congdon of Spanish Springs, 7-3.
After a scoreless first period, Mersino went ahead 1-0 with an escape in the second round, but Sandoval scored a three-point near fall to lead 3-1 after two. Sandoval tacked on two takedowns while yielding just two escape points in the final period.
Mersino led 2-0 with a late takedown against Congdon in the semis. Congdon went ahead briefly 3-2, but an escape and takedown gave Mersino a 5-3 lead which he protected well in the final period.
Mersino cut weight to get down to 132 which he believes is his best weight.
“I wrestled 38s so we could have a full roster,” Mersino said. “I figured I had a better chance to make state at 32s.”
Carter, on the strength of a third-period takedown, edged Sheldon Martin of North Valleys, 9-7 in the semis, and then lost by technical fall to Reno’s Andrew Berryessa in the championship match.
“It feels really nice (to make state),” Carter said after his semifinal win. “Hard work is paying off.”
Keller shook off a tough 12-11 loss in the semifinals to knock off McQueen’s Christian Mahler, 13-4, and then Reno’s Eric Lopez, 8-5, in the third-place match.
Against Lopez, he scored a takedown in the final minute to secure the win.
“I was hoping to take first because that’s where I was seeded,” Keller said. “I messed up in the semifinal. I just couldn’t do my stuff. The second match I was able to set up my shots.”
Rudy, a sophomore, lost 12-11 in the semis to McQueen’s Montana Puckett, but he bounced back with two straight pins to move on.
“It’s awesome (to qualify),” Rudy said. “One of my goals this year was to finish top-three. I had to go out and wrestle hard (today).”
Miller was the recipient of four stalling warnings, including one nine seconds into overtime, in his 6-5 loss to Tyler Barats of Spanish Springs. Miller had a 5-3 lead with 1:35 left, but Barats was awarded two penalty points, and then Miller got hit with another stalling call which ended the match. He came back strong with a 37-second pin and a 63-second pin.
“It was pretty tough (mentally) to come back,” Miller said. “I had to calm down. I never heard them call me for stalling until I looked up. It’s very rare (to get called for stalling) that early.”
Sievers, despite an elbow injury suffered at the Placer Tournament, pinned Damonte’s Richardo Garcia and Reno’s Austin Lemons to finish third. Lemons had pinned Sievers on Friday in the third round.
Jasper lost 7-2 in the semis to Bryce Cartlidge, but pinned Joey Arterburn and then knocked off Haight, 14-5, in the third-place match.
“That was emotional,” Jasper said. “We’re both seniors, and one of us gets to go (for the first time) and one of us doesn’t. I learned how to wrestle Arterburn from previous matches, and I got more confident after Sam beat him.”
The toughest road to qualify was by O’Keefe, who suffered a second-round loss on Friday, and had to win three straight on Saturday to advance. He recorded two straight pins before outlasting Reno’s Connor Pearson, 12-5, for third place.
“Connor is a good wrestler, and he should be going to state,” O’Keefe said. “Our side of the bracket was stacked.”