SPARKS — Don’t tell David Hughes that nothing is impossible.
After a knee injury sidelined the junior wrestler since the summer, Hughes made his season debut for the Greenwave at the Northern Division I-A wrestling championships in Sparks. Despite his conditioning not being at the same level as his teammates, Hughes didn’t let the odds continue to stack up against him as he took matters into his own hands and won the 160-pound weight class championship.
“At first I was happy for the state berth,” said Hughes, whose first two wins in the tournament extended his season into state. “As the tournament went on, I knew that I would be in the finals. I was hoping I could sweep.”
Hughes beat Fernley’s Anfernee Sloan, 11-4, as the Greenwave won four individual championships and will send an additional six to the state tournament. Fallon finished second with 183 points while Lowry easily won with 277.5.
“I just went out there and wanted to finish the match,” Hughes said. “I’m not in the best condition.”
Hughes breezed through the bracket on Friday and Saturday morning to punch his ticket to the state championships this week in the Las Vegas area. But that wasn’t good enough after Hughes realized that he could win the whole thing.
Hughes didn’t start off well, trailing by two points after Sloan took him down in the first period. Hughes, though, scored a reversal before the end of the period to tie the score. After both wrestlers didn’t score in the second round, Hughes snagged a takedown and nearly pinned Sloan as he racked up six points.
Hughes’ fatigue started to creep in toward the end of the match as Sloan scored a reversal to trail 9-4. Hughes’ takedown with five seconds left sealed the win to give him a perfect 3-0 record on the season.
“As the match goes on, I kept turning and turning,” Hughes said. “Coach (Mitch) Overlie tried to get me in good shape for this tournament.”
Hughes won his first two matches by pin after taking out Dayton’s Mitchell Fialkowski in the quarterfinals before pinning Elko’s Gage Castagnetti with six seconds left in the second period.
“I wanted to take each match one by one,” Hughes said when he opened the tournament.
With one more week to prepare for his second and last tournament of the year, Hughes is looking to be in better shape with the 160-pound division title on the line.
“No matter how much conditioning you do in practice, the live matches are tougher,” he said.
Hughes’ regional title capped off the fourth for the Greenwave, who scored championships in the 126-, 138- and 145-pound divisions.
Anthony Sabatino (126) came from behind to win the title in overtime, Sam Goings (138) won a nail-bitter and Trae Workman (145) recorded a pin in the second period to win his crown.
Sabatino trailed for most of his bout against Lowry’s Nate Nelson until scoring an escape to cut the deficit to 4-2 with 15 seconds remaining. Sabatino quickly pounced on Nelson 10 seconds later to score a match-tying takedown and force overtime.
With both wrestlers fighting for possession in the opening of the overtime period, Sabatino was nearly caught before taking down and pinning Nelson with 12 seconds left. Sabatino won his first two matches by pin, scoring an opening-round win over Sparks’ Parker Kivett and then pinning Dayton’s Ryan Greenwalt in the second period of the semifinals.
“I have to keep going,” the senior said about the waning seconds of the third period against Nelson. “I was trying to get the regional win. I was lucky to get the takedown late and force overtime and get the win.”
Goings’ battle had as much drama as his teammate’s.
Both Goings and Spring Creek’s Sheldon Davis battled to a scoreless tie in the first two periods. With Davis on top to begin the final period, Goings muscled his way for a two-point reversal with 1:28 left in the match, holding on to win 2-0.
“It was very fun,” Goings said. “There was no quick way out. You have to battle through, fight and not give up.”
Unlike the championship, Goings’ first two matches were over in a hurry. Goings defeated South Tahoe’s Dakota Moss by a 16-1 technical fall and then scored a major decision over Elko’s Jared Pawlik, 14-3.
Workman had a smooth road to the finals, capped off by a second-period pin over Spring Creek’s Anthony Barrington for the title.
Workman jumped to a 5-0 lead in the first period after a nearfall with 9 seconds left. He led off the second period with a reversal and another nearfall before pinning Barrington with 59 seconds remaining. Workman won his quarterfinal match against Fernley’s Arsenio Reyes II by a first-period pin before scoring a technical fall over Fernley’s Giovanni Piroddi, 16-0.
“I was kind of surprised,” Workman said about his championship pin. “You have to go one match at a time and can never look ahead. It’s worked out.”