RENO – The Greenwave wrestling team qualified seven, including one champion and three runners-up, to this weekend’s 3A state tournament in Winnemucca.
Fallon sprung a couple of upsets in the semifinal round of the 3A Northern regional tournament at Wooster High School to surpass Fernley in the standings as the team finished third behind Elko and Lowry. The defending state champion Indians won the tournament with 302 points followed by Lowy with 222 and Fallon with 178, three points ahead of Fernley.
The state tournament starts at 12:40 p.m. on Friday at the Winnemucca Event Center with the championship quarterfinals and matches will continue based on available mats. The 5A, 3A and 2A/1A, and all-girls state tournaments are running together. Saturday’s action starts at 9 a.m.
Freshman Carson Melendy won the 120-pound division while junior Jaiden McFadden (126), sophomore Colton Blankenship (165) and senior Thayne Hatch (157) each finished second. Blankenship and Hatch scored upsets over Fernley opponents to send them into the finals. Sophomore Lonnie Adams (132), and seniors Jeramiah Prinz (138) and Isiah Diaz (144) each finished fourth.
Although they didn’t place in the top four to qualify for state, freshman Andre Green (113) finished fifth, and freshman Manny Barros (106), junior Caden McKnight (144) and senior Lucas Costagliola (175) each took sixth.
Melendy scored falls in his first three bouts before a narrow 6-2 decision over Fernley’s Nathan Pritchard in the championship. Melendy is looking to become the first Greenwave freshman to win state since Sean McCormick in 2016.
“Carson had another dominating weekend being our only champion for the Greenwave,” Fallon coach Trevor deBraga said. “Carson has really started to peak these last few weeks, losing only two matches since Jan. 6. His goal is to be a freshman state champion and if he continues the hard work this week at practice, I have no doubt he will achieve that.”
McFadden qualified for state last year and is looking to reach the podium this weekend. He decisioned South Tahoe’s Brady Higgins, 9-5, and pinned Fernley’s Brody Jones in the first period to reach the semifinals. He advanced by injury default before losing to Elko’s Titan Kennedy, 15-5, in the finals.
“Jaiden is a returning state qualifier and knows how tough it is to place at state,” deBraga said. “Jaiden had a few mistakes at regionals costing him a championship but there is no doubt in my mind he can be a state champion. Cut the mistakes and keep focused, and I know Jaiden has the capability to be a state champion.”
In his first year of wrestling at the high school level after going out for basketball as a freshman, Hatch upset the No. 2 seed, pinning Fernley’s Marciano Montano in the second period. He fell to Lowry’s Jhett Harber with three seconds left in the first period of the finals. Hatch’s older brother, Wyatt, lost his senior season due to the pandemic.
“With the help of his older brother Wyatt and his family, he came out and It's been rewarding for him,” deBraga said. “He is sitting in a great spot and after this weekend I know he can be a state champion.”
In one of the biggest upsets of the weekend, Blankenship pinned the No. 1 seed in the semifinals when he rolled Fernley’s Brandon McCullar for the fall in the second period after almost being pinned in the opening period. Blankenship, though, lost by fall with 21 seconds left in the finals when Lowry’s Luke Fentress recorded the pin.
“It had me jumping off my feet and our Fallon fans were jumping out of the bleachers,” deBraga said about the upset win. “I knew Colton had the potential to be at the top of his class and make it to the big show. Colton is a strong kid who relies on his strength but if he uses his technique as well, he's scary if you’re his opponent. I have high hopes for Colton and there's no doubt in my mind he can be on the podium.”
A pair of seniors lived to wrestle another day when Prinz and Diaz battled through the consolation bracket.
Prinz, who missed last year to a knee injury and the year before to the pandemic, scored three consecutive wins in the consolation bracket to qualify for state. He pinned South Tahoe’s Jeffery Chavarria and Spring Creek’s Braxton Hansen before taking down Fernley’s Braeden Garrett in the second period to advance to the third-place match. South Tahoe’s Kash Hendrick won by major decision to finish third over Prinz.
“Jeramiah was fourth after a long tough journey to get back on the mat since his freshman year,” deBraga said. “The time off set Jeramiah back but he's been tough as nails this year. He's been robbed the last few years and now he's a senior on a mission to get on that podium at state.”
Diaz fell short of reaching state last year and he initially didn’t come out this year but returned midseason. He was able to get back to the state tournament for his second trip after advancing as a freshman. After falling in the semifinals, Diaz recorded a technical fall over Elko’s Treagan Hansen to punch his ticket to state before falling to South Tahoe’s Patrick Webster in the last bout.
“After a heartbreaking loss last year costing him a shot at state, I feel it mentally took a toll on him,” deBraga said. “Initially, Isiah didn't want to wrestle and then we finally got him out for the team and into shape. Isiah is a guy that can also change the outcome of a match with one move. He needs to stay focused and mentally lock in, and he could be on the podium this week at state.”
The last qualifier – Adams – won three in a row in consolation, all by fall, including a second-period pin over Lowry’s Erick Valencia to qualify for state. Fernley’s Riley McCullar defeated Adams, 15-2, in the third-place bout.
“Lonnie has made huge strides in only his second year on the mat,” deBraga said. “Lonnie has the ability to catch some of the top guys at state and cause some upsets. It's been rewarding as a coach watching him grow and he won't stop pushing until he's on top.”
Nearly making it to state were Green, Barros, McKnight and Costaglio. Green lost by technical fall, Barros and McKnight were pinned, and Costagliola lost by major decision to drop into the fifth-place match.
Junior Quentin Hornbeak (150) finished 2-2 and freshman Joseph Romero (190) was 1-2. Freshman Evan Mackuliak (106), sophomore Nathaniel Zackery (126), senior Michele Grossi (215) and junior Sean Reeder (285) each finished 0-2.