WINNEMUCCA — For the first time in seven years, a Fallon freshman is on top of the podium in the Silver State’s championship wrestling tournament.
Carson Melendy captured the 3A state championship after coming from behind to defeat his cross-valley rival for the fifth time this year as the Greenwave placed four, the most since 2018, when Fallon crowned four state champions. Melendy is the first Fallon freshman since Sean McCormick to win an individual state championship after he claimed the 120-pound title on Saturday at the Winnemucca Events Center.
“In the past decade coaching Greenwave wrestling, we have had a few very exciting state tournaments,” Fallon coach Trevor deBraga said. “We won a state title and two times we have crowned four state champions in one weekend. This weekend had to have been up toward the top. I think it's because it was a year when we are so young. We had a huge team, and we're super young. And my young guys really wrestled well and earned state placings. It was really an exciting finish with each of those guys winning their final matches of the year and seeing hard work pay off.”
Senior Thayne Hatch, junior Jaiden McFadden and sophomore Colton Blankenship powered through the consolation bracket to finish third. As a team, Fallon finished seventh with 73 points. Ex-Fallon coach Mitch Overlie’s Elko squad captured its second consecutive state championship with 118.5 points.
After pinning Virgin Valley’s Davian Bills and Lowry’s Marcas Ricci in the second period of his Friday matches, Melendy found himself trailing for most of Saturday’s championship against Fernley’s Nathan Pritchard. The Vaquero was in control of most of the match until the third period, when Melendy reversed his fortune. With time ticking within the final minute of his bout, Melendy rolled Pritchard onto his back in front of the Fallon coaching staff and with 44 seconds left, Melendy became a state champion with his third fall of the tournament.
“It's tough to beat someone twice in a year but to do it five times is unreal,” deBraga said. “Carson has a shot to do what Sean McCormick did being Fallon’s only four-time state champion. He looked solid all weekend and hit a throw at the end when it was needed. I tell my kids over and over each week that, ‘We do not look to throw opponents.’ I try to keep them focused on taking good shots and dominating on our feet. But this was a time a throw opened up for Carson and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.”
Hatch (157), after falling in Friday’s semifinal, won his next two, beginning with a fall over Virgin Valley’s Dominic Piazza one minute into the second period. Hatch proceeded to outlast cross-valley rival Fernley’s Marciano Montano with a 9-3 decision to finish third in the state.
“It was great to see Thayne finish the year on the podium after taking years off from wrestling, and he absolutely earned that spot this weekend,” deBraga said.
McFadden (126) pinned Boulder City’s Logan Goode in the second period of the consolation semifinals, extending his winning streak to two after decisioning Sparks’ Travis Solis, 9-0, on Friday. McFadden rolled Elko’s Titan Kennedy with 1:21 left in the first period to win the third-place match.
“It's tough to come back from a loss like that, especially when he was winning and then got caught,” deBraga said. “I truly believe if Jaiden finishes on top of that first match, he is a state champion. But that's the nature of the sport. Anything can happen at any time. He defeated the Elko kid he lost to the week before. It was a great finish to his season and now the only goal for next year is to win it all.”
After falling in the semifinals, Blankenship (165) was dominant in his final two bouts. He pinned Moapa Valley’s Gary Leavitt with 19 seconds left in the second period before pinning Desert Oasis’ Logan Ogle one minute into the third-place battle.
“Colton was by far my most improved wrestler on the team. Once we got past some bad habits, Colton became an all-around wrestler,” deBraga said. “His technique has always been great, but he was relying too much on his strength. Once he relied on his technique the strength only aided in his success. He is a sophomore with a bright future and can’t wait to see what he does these next two seasons.”
Senior Jeramiah Prinz (138) scored a late takedown in the final period of the consolation semifinals and tried to roll Elko’s Cael Sellers but was a couple seconds too late as he came up short (6-5) of wrestling for third place. Sophomore Lonnie Adams (132) was pinned by Fernley’s Riley McCullar with 43 seconds left in the second period of the consolation semifinals.