Carson High’s Ariel Vega wrestles at Cimarron-Memorial High School last February during the 2020 NIAA Class 4A State Wrestling Tournament. Vega, along with six other Senator wrestling teammates, won’t get a senior season due to the ongoing pandemic.
Carson High wrestling head coach Nick Redwine was left in a position only a few coaches across the country faced after winter sports were officially called off.
The four-year head coach was tasked with addressing his seven seniors about their final season getting called off in the wake of ongoing pandemic.
It was the first group of freshman to learn the sport under Redwine and his assistant coaches Nick Schlager and Justin Barlow.
“They kind of hold a special place in my heart because I’ve been with them since they were freshman and kind of seen them go through the whole high school process,” Redwine said. “It was a great group of kids. That’s what makes it so hard the way this worked out this year because they were a pleasure to coach, everyone of them.”
The outgoing class
There’s disappointment from all sides, but Ariel Vega, Thomas Legott, Izayah Pando, Max Harris, Edwin Vasquez, Gabe Madera and manager Alicia Evans get to leave knowing they kept the Senators at the top of the area wrestling competition.
Of the six senior wrestlers, four will end their careers with at least one state tournament appearance.
Though the Sierra and High Desert leagues were combined into one because of NIAA realignment for this school year, all seven seniors will graduate without having finished anywhere other than first in the Sierra League.
For Pando, the loss of his senior season didn’t come as a surprise, but that didn’t necessarily cushion the blow.
“I expected it, but I was still very upset when I got the news. It’s like when your dog dies, when your dog is getting old, you expect it to happen, but then it happens and you’re still sad,” said Pando.
All heart, no brakes
When it comes to his first four-year class, Redwine doesn’t have much in the way of negatives.
In fact, the athlete’s competitive spirits carried his optimism from last season into this year as he expected the Senators to once again send a handful of wrestlers to that state tournament.
Redwine took the time to share his thoughts about each senior, and is quoted below.
• On Ariel Vega: “He would have been a four-year varsity wrestler. He was very consistent, always showed up. He was very easy to coach. You taught him something at practice and he would work on it and use it in a match. … He was accessible. He wouldn’t close himself off when you tried to coach him.”
• On Thomas Legott: “He was definitely a challenge to coach because it took us a couple years to figure out his puzzle pieces. … We taught him one move in practice and it was like the light switch came on. … It was great. It was almost comical. Coming into this year, he was going to be one of our top guys.”
• On Izayah Pando: “We called him the virus last year, which is going to be a little insensitive this year. He would just eat away at people. He would be down five, six, seven points at the end of the first period, but he would not go away. … There was a sense that Pando was going to be a leader this year. … It’s almost like that whole metaphor of him being a virus transformed into his captainship on the team because he just grew on everybody.”
• On Max Harris: “He was the guy we were expecting a pin in a dual and expecting him in the finals of every tournament we went too. Max definitely had that potential. He was a very, very dynamic wrestler. He was strong as an ox, very fast footwork and good technique.”
• On Edwin Vasquez: “Edwin didn’t start wrestling until he was a sophomore. He didn’t really get it until last year. Edwin didn’t have any bad habits. … He was real slow to start, but once he got into matches and did things we worked on with him – and had success with them – you could see this fire.”
• On Gabe Madera: “Gabe is all heart. He shows up to every practice. Works his tail off. Always ready to do anything extra. Stay after practice, a fundraiser, he’d be there. … I think out of all these kids, Gabe has the best path for early success in life. He has a really solid work ethic. He understands how to work hard and he’s not afraid too.”
• On four-year manager Alicia Evans: “It’s gotten to the point where managing for a wrestling team is different than everything else. … You travel with the team, even if you’re not in the van with them. It takes a very strong-willed person. She was definitely a part of the team, and she definitely helped out a lot.”
Editor’s note: Due to the loss of basketball and wrestling seasons, the Nevada Appeal and Record-Courier will be doing a series of stories on the seniors, who missed out on their final season.