LAS VEGAS — It’s only fitting that Bob Costas’ “Miracle on Ice” call happened 38 years ago this month during the Winter Olympics.
Marcel Poracky, a senior transfer student, in true underdog fashion, upset all three opponents in Friday’s 3A state wrestling tournament to win the crown at 170 pounds as Fallon placed fifth at the Orleans Arena.
“All year I knew he had what it takes to be a state champion but I’m not sure if he really believed it,” Fallon coach Trevor de Braga said. “The potential (assistant coach) Dan (Shaw) and I saw in Marcel was incredible but he struggled here and there throughout the season.”
Poracky had to fight for his season in the regional tournament when he lost in the championship bracket. Every bout afterward was do-or-die and Poracky survived by winning the third-place round, securing the final state berth in the division.
In the state tournament, Poracky wrestled the way de Braga wanted. He saw a dominating wrestler in practice and knew a state title was obtainable.
“I was deviating a little bit. I was having a hard time getting used to it. I got used to it at the right time,” Poracky said.
Poracky opened with a pin in the quarterfinals over Moapa Valley’s Gavin Henrie. He followed with his second upset victory, a 4-3 decision over Elko’s Carl Hansen, the north’s regional champion, before defeating second-seed Cade Billingsley of Lowry, 4-3, in the championship.
“Marcel had a different spark in his eye at state, and after he took down Hansen, I couldn’t catch my breath out of excitement for a good half hour,” de Braga said. “He finally got over that hump and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Poracky’s title gave Fallon its third of the tournament after the McCormick brothers, Tommy and Sean, won earlier. His first championship in his final and only season with the Greenwave set up the stage for junior Ben Dooley in the 285-pound division.
Dooley avenged a loss in last year’s state final after suffering an injury. He was determined to come back stronger and better this year. And it showed by winning the Douglas tournament and placing second in the Sierra Nevada Classic in December. He was one win away from wrestling for All-American honors in the Reno Tournament of Champions.
“Ben has had a big junior season and was impressive at state,” de Braga said. “He’s a great kid and one who you always look forward to seeing when you go to practice because he’s such a character. But when it’s time to wrestle, he means business.”
Dooley pinned his first two opponents on Friday, including a second-period victory over Pahrump Valley’s Armani McGhee and first-period fall over Mojave’s Ivan Parra in the semifinals. Dooley encountered a familiar foe in the final, Fernley’s Lonnie Slapinski. After winning the previous two bouts, including last week’s regional championship, Dooley scored a major-decision victory, 12-0, to win his first state championship.
“It does help you because it’s in my head that I’ve beaten him before,” Dooley said about facing Slapinski for the third time. “I won’t get psyched out and I know I’m in his head so it helps out.”
The only one not to medal for Fallon was Mason Smith, a senior who placed second and third in the previous two state tournaments.
Smith was in a battle from the start at 120 pounds, losing to Desert Pines’ Xavier Gonzalez by pin fall at the 4:00 mark in the quarterfinals. Smith, though, stayed alive in the consolation first round by pinning Pahrump Valley’s Donnie Miller, in the second period. Boulder City’s Garrett Leavitt ended the Fallon senior’s season with a 12-5 decision in the consolation semifinal.
“He had a tough bracket with some great kids in the weight class, but he should have been on that podium,” de Braga said. “It’s going to be hard not having Mason in the room anymore and I know he’s disappointed in the outcome, but he still had a tremendous career at CCHS.”