When Fallon lines up outside the school this morning to board the bus to Sparks, it will be carrying one less wrestler than last year’s state championship team.
The 2016 team brought home the school’s first-ever wrestling title after it seemed like nothing could stop the Greenwave. Fallon was nearly unstoppable in the early rounds, building a sizeable lead after sending seven to the championship round. The trophy was coming home before Fallon sent its first wrestler to the mat in that round.
This year’s team has many similarities, including sending nine to this weekend’s state tournament after finishing second in last week’s regional. Of the nine, four won titles and four had their shot but settled for second, while one who took third deserved to be wrestling for first. Any of these nine wrestlers can win a state title this weekend and they want to prove it, especially in front of their fans.
Trevor de Braga’s team doesn’t need any additional motivation aside from Fallon having one of the smallest lineups compared to Lowry, Spring Creek, Fernley and Elko, which can not only fill each of the 14 weight classes but they have wrestlers to spare.
“Even returning five of my eight state placers from last year, we have still been predicted to be behind Lowry and Spring Creek,” de Braga said. “I use that as a challenge each week to prove everyone wrong. And each tournament we have competed in all year, we have finished above those two teams so that’s been huge for the team’s confidence. We have one goal on our mind and it’s to be the best. I hope each kid wins individual state titles and the team title will take care of itself.”
De Braga and his team continue to defy the odds that it’s not about quantity. It’s about quality. The Greenwave showed last year that with 10 wrestlers, which ranked third from the north.
It’s the battle for quality versus quantity.
“The quality of wrestlers we have definitely outweighs the quantity of other teams,” de Braga said. “In tournaments, you can have all the kids in the lineup but if the quality isn’t there, they will lose out in the tournament one by one.”
Boulder City brings the most wrestlers (16) to the state tournament while 3A North champ Spring Creek has 11. Boulder City, though, possesses the same number of regional champions (four) as Fallon while Virgin Valley has five regional champs but nine total wrestlers.
“These teams have large numbers of kids who qualified but I don’t see most of them being on top of the podium,” de Braga said. “I may be biased for my own team but I’ve been around the sport long enough. I can see quality good from bad.”
Tommy McCormick (113 pounds) is a freshman in his first state tournament but he hasn’t been shy with the big stage. McCormick wrestled many youth tournaments, regionally and nationally, and knows what it takes to come out on top this weekend. His brother, Sean, a two-time regional and state champ wrestling in the 145 class, knows no different. It’s in their DNA.
The same holds true for Matt Goings (160) who didn’t win the regional title last season but overcame the odds to hold up the state championship plaque after his older brother, Sam, won a state title in his final season. And then there’s the workhorse, Ben Dooley (220), who represented the team well in the Reno Tournament of Champions in December and pinned all of his opponents to win the regional title.
Even the four runner-ups have the potential to win state, just like Goings last year. Terry White (120), Jack Swisher (152), Chase Hyde (182) and Kobe Abe (285) can help Fallon soar to another team championship, along with Mason Smith (126), who battled adversity to take third. Smith and Swisher took second at last year’s state, while White was third and Abe missed the cut.
Three wins separate each of Fallon’s nine wrestlers from becoming state champions. It’s not an impossible feat as the 2016 team proved. It comes down to focus, determination, grit, endurance and the desire to be the last one standing. It’s 18 minutes that will last a lifetime.
“If you wrestle 18 minutes as intense, physical and dominant as you can, you will be a state champion,” de Braga said.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at email@example.com