Fallon brings home state wrestling title
Many decades of shortcomings at capturing a state title, the hazing scandal that shook the region followed by an unfavorable coaching shake-up left the Greenwave wrestling team searching for a new hope, a new purpose.
Insert an energetic coaching staff who grew through those pains on the mat, watching Fallon fall short time and again at winning the ultimate prize, and introducing a new philosophy to a team that believes anything is possible.
And for the first time in school history, Fallon is bringing a state wrestling championship trophy home to the Lahontan Valley.
“Knowing what Lowry and Spring Creek had, I wasn’t satisfied,” first-year coach Trevor de Braga said about his team having a strong hold on the title heading into the finals. “I knew in the back of my mind that we had locked it up at that point. I had a good feeling and didn’t want to jinx it or let the kids overthink it. It’s an individual sport, and I’m about the kids first and then the team title.”
After taking third in the Feb. 13 regional tournament, the Greenwave stormed back on Saturday to win the Division I-A state title at the Desert Arena in Primm. The tournament was almost won before the medal round after Fallon powered through the championship bracket. The Greenwave’s 145.5 points nearly doubled regional champ Spring Creek (82), while Lowry finished second with 88. Virgin Valley took fourth with 76 points, and Elko amassed 66 to round out the top five.
“It’s something everybody has been talking about in my family that we never, ever won a state wrestling title,” said senior Trae Workman, who won his second individual state title on Saturday. “My dad always pushed for this in high school. I’ve kept it in my mind. It was definitely exciting coming back to Fallon )on Sunday) and showing them the trophy we won.”
De Braga and his Fallon grapplers sent seven to the state finals, crowning four champs and placing an additional four in the top five after qualifying 10 from the regional. Lowry, which had 13 wrestlers, had only one champ while Spring Creek, which had 15 wrestlers, came up empty.
“Being the first to do something for your town that no one hasn’t done, all the kids who came before us, it kind of honored them and what they put into this program,” senior grappler Sam Goings said. “Finally, it brings it home to them to Fallon. I don’t know if I’ll feel like this again.”
Freshman Sean McCormick (138 pounds), sophomore Matt Goings (152), and seniors Workman (160) and Sam Goings (170) each won his division, while sophomore Mason Smith (113), junior Jack Swisher (145) and senior Juan Ledezma (182) took second. Junior Terry White (106) placed third. Juniors Dylan McAfee (126) and Kobe Abe (285) came up short but will have a second chance in 2017.
“It was just amazing,” McCormick said. “Everyone showed up and wrestled his best. It was perfect timing, too. Everyone’s going to remember the state tournament. It’s great we got this team victory.”
The team win helped heal some wounds that have incurred since the 1999 team lost on the final match in the Super State against Cimarron-Memorial. Several second-place finishes and the hazing scandal that eventually removed Mitch Overlie from coaching after the 2014 season added more heartache for one of Fallon’s most successful boys programs. A coaching staff who endured those pains either as a coach or former wrestler helped motivate the current club to strive toward righting the ship.
“They deserve it,” Sam Goings said of Trevor and Frank de Braga, Dan Shaw and Ryan McCormick. “Trevor, Frank and Ryan have been wrestling since kindergarten. They grew up in the culture and brought it back to the room this year. It’s really rewarding for them to get the state title for the team.
“(Dan) was there with Coach Overlie. We struggled. He stayed with us the whole time. The coaching change, but he stayed there. Another coaching change, and he stayed there. He’s committed to this team as much as anybody.”
Fallon took care of business sending eight wrestlers to the championship semifinals before White ran into the top seed. Coupled with Lowry and Spring Creek’s wrestlers bouncing out early, Fallon had all but won the state championship without having to wrestle in the medal round.
“We got the matches we needed. We needed those upsets,” de Braga said. “Spring Creek was falling one after the next, and Lowry was falling one after the next.”
The Greenwave was in strong position to seal the team title before the finals but unfinished business still needed some attention.
As soon as McCormick scored a reversal 30 seconds into the second period of the finals against Boulder City senior Tyler Rushworth, it was only a matter of time before the freshman would end the match. McCormick caught Russworth off guard at the 1:10 mark, locking his legs before pinning his back against the edge of the match for the victory with 56 seconds left in the period.
“I was hoping to take him down and then get to work,” McCormick said. “When he took me down, I wasn’t too nervous. I caught him on the back and that was it.”
The Goings family received a triple dose of championships with the team title and then the brothers each capturing his own title.
Sam Goings won his third title after being the only victor in last year’s state championship. Goings pinned Lowry senior Shaun Mentaberry in the third period.
“It’s totally different than my last two,” Goings said. “There are a lot of good wrestlers down there. It was great. Compared to the other ones, it’s a good feeling to win it by yourself, but when you have a team with you to win it, it’s a tremendous feeling.”
What made this year’s more special besides the team title was watching his younger brother avenge last week’s second-place finish.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Goings said. “I was more excited for his match than mine. After he won, I concentrated on mine. It’s a great feeling. I can’t explain it.”
Matt Goings met Lowry sophomore Cade Billingsley in a rematch of last week’s regional championship and overtime was needed. After both tussled throughout the scoreless first period with neither getting a good look at a takedown, Billingsley escaped Goings’ grasp at the 1:25 mark of the second period for the match’s first point (1-0). With 1:03 left in the third, Goings’ perseverance paid off with a quick escape, tying the match at 1. Goings jumped out in the overtime period with a takedown for a 3-1 win.
Goings, who began the season at 170 pounds, wrestled in various classes – sometimes as a non-scorer – but a drop down to 152 paid off.
“I was all for it. When I was cutting weight, it was tough,” he said. “I had lot of weight to drop. It finally paid off. In retrospect, it’s not that bad being that I have a state title.”
Workman wasted no time winning his second state title to cap off his wrestling career. The senior grappler grabbed Clark senior Stefan McLin’s leg 20 seconds into the match and quickly rolled him on his back. Workman’s pin ended the bout with 1:12 left in the opening period.
“Going into every match, I knew it was my last shot at a state title,” Workman said. “I knew it was all or nothing. I just went out there and did what I do best.”
Smith, Swisher and Ledezma fell short in their championship bouts but managed to come out as second-best in the state.
Smith and Elko’s Kevin Villegas went scoreless in the first period but Villegas escaped to open the second period. Villegas scored a takedown with 30 seconds left in the third period and won 3-0.
Western senior Luis Lopez’s quickness led to taking Swisher down 49 seconds into the match. Five seconds later, though, Lopez quickly flipped and pinned Swisher.
Ledezma and Del Sol junior Victor Torres-Parra battled back and forth in the first two periods before the Fallon grappler jumped to an 8-5 lead. Torres-Parra, though, nearly pinned Ledezma in the third period as his near fall ultimately decided the match, 13-10.
In the battle for third, White opened with a takedown and after giving up an escape to open the second period, he recorded another takedown to go up 4-1. A reversal from Boulder City’s Garrett Leavitt cut the lead by two but White scored his third takedown of the match to go up 6-3. An illegal hold upped the score to 7-3 late in the third period before a takedown made it 7-5.
“He got through the consolation,” de Braga said of White. “Once you lose a match, it shows what kind of wrestler you are. You’re still wrestling hard enough to come back and take third. He stepped it up and showed his true colors today and I’m looking forward to next year from him.”