On paper, he’s listed as a freshman. But on the mat, it’s another story.
With many years of club tournaments under his belt, Sean McCormick continued his unbeaten streak against the Division I-A, winning Fallon’s first championship of the regional tournament as the Greenwave finished third as a team and qualified 10 for this week’s state tournament in Primm.
“Qualifying 10 for state is phenomenal, and it was the minimum number I was expecting,” first-year coach Trevor de Braga said. “We had a couple matches not go our way and that’s wrestling.”
McCormick (138 pounds), junior Jack Swisher (145), and seniors Trae Workman (160) and Sam Goings (170) each captured their weight class championship, while junior Terry White (106) and sophomore Matt Goings (152) each took second during the Northern Division I-A Regional Wrestling Tournament at the Elmo Dericco Gym on Saturday. Sophomore Mason Smith (113) and senior Juan Ledezma (182) each took third, and juniors Dylan McAfee (126) and Kobe Abe (285) finished fourth.
Fallon didn’t have the numbers to score enough points to overtake Spring Creek, which won the event with 225.5 points over Lowry’s 219.5 as the Spartans qualified 15 for the state tournament, while the Buckaroos will bring 13. The Greenwave finished third with 193.5 points, while Elko (151) and Fernley (129) rounded out the top five.
“I have big expectations despite going into state with lower seeds,” de Braga said. “I’m hoping for some big upsets and hoping the boys will rise to the challenge. We still have a shot at a state championship and the boys are bought in. I’m very excited for this weekend. We need to wrestle with confidence.”
It was McCormick’s bout that proved to be one of the most nail-biting of the championship round after he cruised through the bracket, and it got Fallon on the board with its first champion after White opened the round with a close loss in Fallon’s first attempt at an individual champion.
“He kind of practiced and tried to prevent me from taking him down,” McCormick said of Lowry’s Nate Nelson. “He wrestled more defensive and closer to get it into overtime and try to take the win. I knew he was going to have to start taking some shots.”
McCormick tangled with Nelson for their second meeting of the year, defeating the Buckaroo, 3-1, in overtime after both wrestlers only managed to score an escape each during regulation. Seconds after the extra period opened, McCormick’s quick maneuver landed him a takedown in the center of the mat. After a lengthy review between the officials, McCormick’s arm was raised.
“I wasn’t too nervous. I felt confident I was going to be able to take him down,” McCormick said. “As long as I can take him down next week (at state), that’s all that matters.”
Like with the rest of the team competing in their home gym, McCormick said the crowd was a great bonus and was encouraging throughout the tournament, especially during his match with Nelson.
“It was amazing,” McCormick added. “Having never experienced that before and having it in Fallon, it helped a ton. Everyone kept feeling that energy.”
The energy continued in the next championship bout, which found Swisher decisioning Lowry’s Quint Bell, 9-5, after beating his teammate, Ryan Johnson, 5-4, to open the tournament.
Matt Goings, though, fell short but wrestled down a weight class after being in the 160 class during the season. Goings opened the tournament with a pin over South Tahoe’s Bow Griffis before beating Fernley’s Cameron Bowman, 5-1. Lowry’s Cade Billingsley nearly had Goings pinned in the opening minute of the championship bout but Goings battled back, losing 8-4.
“Matt has been a non-scorer all year at 160 behind his brother, and Matt has placed at all tournaments, so getting him to a weight he could get us team points was huge,” de Braga said about the strategy. “The move was not expected by any of the teams and it’ll help going into state. Matt has looked great all year but has to stay consistent.”
Goings’ older brother, Sam, and Workman continued their dominance over the Division I-A.
Workman had little trouble after pinning Elko’s Eugene Golez and bouncing Spring Creek’s Bayley Porreca, 15-0. Workman locked Fernley’s Brennen Gatlin late in the first period of the championship, pinning the Vaquero with 23 seconds left.
Goings, like Workman, had a strong hold on the weight class, opening with back-to-back pins over Dayton’s Mitchell Fialkowski and Spring Creek’s K-Ci Slade. Goings scored a major decision (16-4) over Lowry’s Shaun Mentaberry to win the title.
Barring any mistakes, de Braga strongly feels his four regional champions will find the same success at state.
“They have been dominant all year and need to be that way one last time this season,” de Braga said. “We have to continue this week to wrestle smart and the outcome should be rewarding for them.”
White opened his championship bout on the wrong foot and couldn’t recover against Spring Creek’s Josh Tripp, losing 9-3. White, though, breezed through the first two rounds with a first-period pin over Lowry’s James Rackley and second-period pin over Elko’s Brandon Mariluch.
Although they didn’t capture a title, Smith, Ledezma and senior Bryson Abe (170) each won their final match.
Smith fell in the semifinal to Elko’s Kevin Villegas, 3-2, but battled back in the consolation, defeating Lowry’s Matthew Souza by pin to take third. Ledezma also dropped into the consolation after losing in the semifinals but bounced back with an 8-7 win over Joe Peterson, whom he lost to earlier in the month. Abe lost in the consolation semifinal to miss out on qualifying for state but still took fifth with an injury default victory over Dayton’s Fialkowski.
McAfee, with his state ticket punched, opted to not wrestle in the third-place battle because of hip injury sustained during the league duals. McAfee lost to Lowry’s Trase Bell in the semifinals but decisioned his teammate, Bryan Day, 7-6, to qualify for state.
“We just have to work past the pain at this point because it’s the big stage now,” de Braga said of McAfee. “He’s a tough kid and will work through the pain.”
Kobe Abe also took fourth to qualify for state after defeating Fernley’s Thomas Foss by pin. Abe lost to Sparks’ Hunter Nobbs by pin in the battle for third.
“Kobe Abe wrestled awesome, and he placing was huge for himself and the team,” de Braga said.
Junior Kendall Rogers (152) and sophomore Mark Moyle (220) fell short in qualifying for state as both fell by pin in both rounds.