Wave grapplers open season with annual Earl Wilkens tournament

Fallon’s Isiah Diaz is the only wrestler returning with state experience after competing in the 3A state meet in Mesquite in February 2020.

Fallon’s Isiah Diaz is the only wrestler returning with state experience after competing in the 3A state meet in Mesquite in February 2020.

A state champ was crowned the last time Fallon hit the mat almost 18 months ago.
After the pandemic canceled the 2020-21 season, the Greenwave wrestling team is back as it opens the season Saturday with the annual Earl Wilkens Memorial Tournament.
“We’re fortunate to finally get back onto the mats after the season was stripped from the kids last season,” Fallon coach Trevor de Braga said. “Wrestling isn’t a sport you can just take a year off and come back and be ready to go. The year off for most of the returners hurts a lot because we needed that year of growth because we had kids in 2020 who were just one match away from making it to state. But we’re taking advantage of being back, and the kids and myself are excited to get to compete again.”
This year’s team includes Misael Vera, Colton Blankenship, Isiah Diaz, Andrew Douglas, Troy Shelton, Cody Shelton, Xavier Capton, Lucas and Jeremiah Prinz, Everdmar Garcia, Manny Karaway, Jaden McFadden, Caden McKnight, Lonnie Adams, Steven Moon, Macray O’Neill and Sean Reeder. Diaz is the only wrestler with state experience.
De Braga expects 12 teams at this Saturday’s Earl Wilkens tournament, including Yerington, Fernley, Lowry, Truckee, Tonopah, Wells, Reno, Carson, Sparks/Excel Christian Academy, Douglas and Elko. After this weekend, the grind continues with tournaments every weekend, including the Reno Tournament of Champions and Sierra Nevada Classic – two main staples in December. Even with the realignment that brought more schools into the 3A, the schedule will look similar to previous seasons: all tournaments and no duals until just before the 3A regional meet.
The goal is for the team to get better each week and be ready to peak in February when it’s time to punch tickets to the state meet in Las Vegas.
“Each week, we see the same Northern Nevada 3A teams at tournaments,” de Braga said. “If there’s one thing coaches can agree on, it’s having duals reinstated. I feel it was a good break in the week to travel and dual a team rather than hold all duals within two days at the end of the season prior to regionals. When it all comes down to it, each weekend is practice for the boys. Whether you wrestle Nevada kids, California kids, whoever it may be, we just need to get better no matter where the results of the match end up. It’s all preparation to get to state.”
Along with the opponent on the mat, Fallon — and the rest of the wrestling community — may have its hands full with COVID and its required protocols. Like football, wrestling is classified as a high-risk sport and requires weekly testing.
“I believe weekly testing in general is going to cause problems throughout the year,” de Braga said. “We do our best to clean mats daily but it’s just that time of year with lots of sickness so I feel the tests won’t be on our side.”
The Nevada teams could also be at a disadvantage during the tournaments.
“Other states don’t test and we wrestle out of state teams, which could be another factor in positive tests for us,” de Braga added. “I’m hoping we get through the season COVID-free but we dealt a lot with it during football season. With the colder season coming, it could affect our team. We are hoping for the best and will continue to get through it.” 


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