Fallon nabs 10 state bids
SPARKS — With another cloud of uncertainty returning to the wrestling program, Mitch Overlie’s grapplers paid no attention and just wrestled.
The Greenwave sent seven to their respective title bouts, converting four into winners, as they came back on the second day of the Northern Division I-A Championships to take second at Sparks High School. Anthony Sabatino (126 pounds), Sam Goings (138), Trae Workman (145) and David Hughes (160) each won their division to lead Fallon, which will be taking 10 of its 14 wrestlers to this week’s state tournament in Primm.
“It would be nice to take everyone and that’s the goal. We had a great second day,” said Overlie, whose future is in jeopardy after the school district initially ruled that he was banned from coaching after the wrestling season. “It’s special for those four. I can’t say enough about them.”
Lowry won the two-day tournament with 277.5 points while Fallon battled back from fourth place Saturday morning to finish second with 183, two points ahead of third-place Spring Creek. Elko finished fourth with 181 points and Fernley scored 136 to round out the top five.
Sabatino’s overtime win in the finals was arguably the most dramatic of the afternoon after he trailed Lowry’s Nate Nelson by three points with 15 seconds left. After a quick escape and takedown to tie the match to force overtime, Sabatino pinned Nelson for the title.
“That was probably the best match of the night,” Overlie said. “Down by three points with just seconds left and to come back and win like he did that was just phenomenal wrestling.”
Goings won a close 2-0 battle over Spring Creek’s Sheldon Davis while Workman stayed hot with a second-period pin over Spring Creek’s Anthony Barrington. After missing the regular season due to injury, Hughes made a giant return to win his first three matches of the year, including the regional crown.
“What can you say about David? He’s a two-time finalist,” Overlie said. “We’re slowly working with him, slowly working with the doctor and doing everything right by David. He comes out as a champ. The mentality that you have to have when you come back from an injury and back on the mat is something that a lot of people don’t do. He wrestled with a lot of heart and wrestled like a champion.”
Overlie felt before the tournament that his team was in position to score a couple upsets and he was right. Two junior varsity wrestlers — Jack Swisher (132) and Jordan Schultz (145) — qualified for the state tournament after Swisher beat teammate Robert White in the consolation semifinals and Schultz rebounded with three-straight wins after an opening loss.
“We had a couple wrestlers who were going to upset or rock the boat,” Overlie said. “Jack Swisher happened to be our own boat that we rocked but he upset Robert and had a great tournament.”
Like Hughes returning from an injury to compete for the first time this season at the regional tournament, Schultz had to battle through some adversity to finish as the third-best wrestler in the region.
“Jordan wrestled out of his mind. He’s the most dangerous guy on the team,” Overlie said. “He can end matches so fast and he proved that. He’s very dangerous. He comes in and gets third. Who would have thought it? He’s a junior who didn’t get an entire year (last year) after he broke his ankle in pole vault. He got it done.”
In addition to the four champions, Jesse Francki (182), Dakota Schelling (195) and Ricky Rogers (220) each punched their ticket to the state tournament after advancing to the finals and placing second.
“Two of those guys in the finals could have wrestled better than that,” Overlie said. “I felt like we should have had six, maybe seven champions. Could we wrestle much better? I hope it happens this weekend.”
Dylan McAfee (113, fourth), Swisher (132, fourth) and Schultz (145, third) each battled through the consolation bracket to place in the top four and qualify for state. Tucker Stritenberger (106, didn’t place), Terry White (106, fifth), White (132, sixth) and Brock Uptain (152, didn’t place), though, came up empty.
“Terry wrestled lights out,” Overlie said. “It’s sad that (Robert) didn’t have the best of days but he’s had a good career for us. Those are the guys who make some of the celebration more sad.”