To the big time | NevadaAppeal.com

To the big time

Steve Puterski
sputerski@lahontanvalleynews.com

It is one of the toughest high school wrestling tournaments in the country.

Nationally ranked grapplers from the East Coast to the West Coast and everywhere between converge at 9 a.m. today and Saturday for the annual Reno Tournament of Champions at the Reno Events Center.

"The biggest reason I like to go to this tournament is to show the kids what they can be," Fallon coach Louie Mori said. "Our great wrestlers have always done well."

For Fallon, the tournament has seen its share of success with numerous wrestlers earning a medal and even winning their weight class.

Although it has been years since a Greenwave grappler was crowned at the TOC, the green and white will be on hand and give it their best shot at the two-day event.

Sam Goings (160 pounds) and David Hughes (182) are perhaps the Wave's best chance for a medal, while Trae Workman, who placed eighth last year with a 5-2 record, will miss the tournament due to a lingering knee injury.

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Last season, Fallon placed 56th with 36 points and was the ninth-highest placing Nevada school. Poway High School (Calif.) was crowned the team champion with 211 points.

Goings went 2-2 at last year's event and aims for a better showing this season.

Hughes, meanwhile, missed last season's tournament has he recovered from an injury. He also missed last week's Cody Louk Invitational in Winnemucca to take the ACT's.

Nevertheless, the two defending state champs are ready to go.

Joining them will be Terry White (106), who is coming off a solid performance last week with a second-place showing. In addition to White, Louie Mori Jr. placed fourth and will wrestle in Workman's stead at 152.

"David should be in the second if he wrestles well," coach Mori added. "Sam's coming off a bit of an injury, but he should be ready."

The tournament, though, is not for the faint of heart in the wrestling world. Grapplers must bring their best performance or be eliminated with haste.

With such a core of wrestlers, many of the Wave's wrestlers do not have the experience factor at such a big event heading into today's action.

Last week's tournament, though, gave many of the younger athletes their first taste of competing for a title or in a third-place match.

"There are a bunch of kids who've never been there before," coach Mori said of last week's effort. "Maybe make it to the end of the first day, or into the second day would be a great goal for most of those kids."

In addition to Goings and Workman's injuries, White suffered a mild back bruise and Jack Swisher, also coming off a second-place performance in Winnemucca, was hit with the flu this week.

While injuries and illnesses are taking an early season toll, Mori is optimistic his club will be ready to compete.

Perhaps the toughest obstacle, though, is the mental aspect of the tournament. With so many top grapplers battling for a title, the psychological tools becomes just as important as the athletic skill set.

"I think the biggest thing, is we go to these big tournament to see what it's like," Mori said.

"You really never know. You go up sometimes with expectations and things don't they don't pan out, or you don't have expectations and those kids do great and it springboards them."