Though they left the Class 5A North regional tournament without an individual champion, the Carson High School wrestling team will have a dozen representatives at the 2024 Class 5A state wrestling meet in Bullhead, Arizona.
Four Senator wrestlers made their way into the finals in their respective weight classes Saturday at Spanish Springs.
As a team, Carson took third place with 189.5 team points. Spanish Springs won the team title with 303.5 team points.
Carson head coach Nick Redwine was happy that 80 percent of the wrestlers they brought will go to state, but he was hoping to have more success in the championship rounds.
“We brought 15 and we qualified 12 so obviously that’s a success, but I think when you let down at the end and have the final round not go as well as you hoped. It just kind of leaves a bitter taste in your mouth,” said Redwine. “It’s a good place to be compared to some other teams.”
Jesse Oliva was the first to grapple for a regional title at 106 pounds where he fell by a 15-9 decision.
Oliva fell behind early, trailing 5-0 after the first 45 seconds of the first period, but battled his way back to end the opening two minutes.
Down 7-3 to start the second, Oliva secured two points with a reversal and then jumped in front, 8-7, with near fall points.
However, a reversal with 15 seconds left gave McQueen’s Cooper Sandoval a 9-8 advantage, which he held onto in the third period.
For Oliva, he qualifies for his second state wrestling tournament after taking fifth at regionals last season.
Lucas Wold was 3-0 at 132 pounds with a tech fall, pin and decision win to make the finals, but he was forced to scratch in the championship with an injury.
It will be Wold’s third straight appearance at the state wrestling tournament.
JT Heaton was the next Senator wrestler on the docket, running into Damonte Ranch’s Braelen Toles.
Heaton lost by pin, but will be the No. 2 seed out of the North heading into next weekend’s state meet.
“I wrestled all right coming up, but just got caught in the end,” said Heaton. “Hopefully I’ll improve on that and work this week to get better for state.”
Heaton was 2-0 with two pins at 175 pounds prior to his loss in the regional title bout.
Dominic Porter was the final Senator to have a chance at a regional title, but also fell by pin to Spanish Springs’ Cormac Anderson in 4:26.
The junior heavyweight had two pins to make the finals in 55 seconds and 3:09 over McQueen’s Trey Smith.
The Senators will start this week in practice with some intensity before tapering off as the team gets closer to Saturday’s state tournament.
Heaton felt that the team’s work ethic in the practice room this season was a major reason why a dozen wrestlers are in the state tournament.
“Work ethic. Coaches have really changed the vibe of practice. We’ve been grinding hard and really been improving as a team,” said Heaton.
At 120 pounds, Keona Basa qualified for his first state tournament after taking third place.
Basa went 2-1 prior to his third place match against Douglas’ Cody Highfill.
For the second time in less than two weeks, Basa and Highfill had their meeting decided by one point as Basa escaped with a 2-1 decision win for third.
Jett Rupert will be returning to his second state tournament at 138 pounds after taking third as well.
All four of Rupert’s regional matches ended in pin with the Senator junior going 3-1.
Konnor Crisp was also third on the podium, going 4-1 at 165 pounds to punch a ticket to state.
Crisp’s only loss in the tournament came to the eventual regional champ in Reno’s Breck Worthen.
Crisp’s win in the third place match came against teammate Ethan Linehan, who will also qualify for state after going 3-2.
AJ Marhevka was fourth at 157 pounds, going 3-2 on the day to earn a trip south.
Carson’s final three state qualifiers were Matthew Manley, who took fifth at 113 pounds; Ean Thomas, who was fifth at 150 and Izaiah Oliva, who was sixth at 190.
State wrestling gives the entire Senator wrestler crew one last chance to finish the season with a bang.
“It’ll be a fresh start. Forget about the season and wrestle everyone like it’s going to be my best match,” said Heaton.
(Senator senior wrestler AJ Marhevka looks to setup a shot, during a match at 157 pounds Saturday at the Class 5A North regional wrestling tournament. / Carter Eckl)