KINGS of the MAT |

KINGS of the MAT

Thomas Ranson |

City police escort the Fallon wrestling team to the Venturraci Gym Monday afternoon.

The city added another chapter to its book of honoring successful Greenwave teams.

Fallon’s wrestling team, which won the school’s first-ever state team title last month in Primm, was honored by the city of Fallon after dying the downtown fountain green and riding a firetruck during an escort to the Venturacci Gym on Monday. Mayor Ken Tedford greeted members of the state championship team, handing each a commemorative pen along with personalized championship T-shirts.

“The first-ever state championship. I think that’s pretty special,” said Tedford, who was in high school when the wrestling program began.

The wrestling team’s state title was three months removed from the football team winning its first in almost 40 years, while the baseball team captured the crown last spring. A few members of the wrestling squad, including first-year coach Trevor de Braga, were also on the football and baseball teams.

“It’s very humbling,” de Braga said. “Seeing all the hard work put into the sport and to be No. 1 in these sports, it’s a phenomenal feeling.”

A third-place finish in the regional tournament didn’t foretell what the state championship would bring.

Fallon got hot at the right time, benefited from Spring Creek and Lowry dropping in the opening rounds, and crowned four individual champions in a runaway. Seniors Trae Workman (152 pounds) and Sam Goings (170), sophomore Matt Goings (152) and freshman Sean McCormick (138) each captured titles as the Greenwave had the tournament won before the championship round.

The mighty fall of the Spartans help create a path for the Greenwave. Spring Creek won the regional over Lowry and both squads had five to six more qualifying wrestlers than Fallon.

That didn’t matter.

In addition to the four champions, Mason Smith (113), Jack Swisher (145) and Juan Ledezma (182) took second, and Terry White (106) finished third.

“I couldn’t believe how many upsets happened in that round,” assistant coach Dan Shaw said.

For Shaw and the rest of the Greenwave wrestling program that had come close several times at winning the ultimate championship, the 2016 title has so much meaning. Switching gears to coaching gave Shaw a better understanding and more appreciation in chasing that once-elusive state title.

“It’s definitely a different feeling being a coach than an athlete,” said assistant coach Dan Shaw, who was a member of the 1999 squad that fell one match short of winning the team state title. “That year I didn’t know what it meant as a team. I didn’t know how much it meant as a team until I became a coach.”

Another person who had invested so much time into the program was still stunned how everything aligned for the Greenwave last month. Mitch Overlie took over for Louie Mori after the 1999 season and coached until 2014.

“That semifinal round was amazing,” said Overlie, who watched in person as Fallon advanced seven to the final round. “It was amazing couple of rounds. It was amazing day, really.”

And it was long overdue.

“I just left like, ‘finally,’” Overlie said. “We just never have been able to get over that hump.”

The hazing scandal prevented Overlie from coming back after the 2014 season that saw Fallon take second behind Lowry. Mori returned last year for a one-year term before his assistants – de Braga and Shaw – take over this season.

Ex-Greenwave wrestlers Ryan McCormick and Frank de Braga also coached this year, while Wade Workman continues to work with the youth wrestling program.

“I can’t say enough about these guys,” Overlie said about the coaching staff. “I feel like I’m a little bit responsible since I coached Trevor, Dan, Frank and Ryan. As a coaching staff, it’s nice to see these guys have a great year.”