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Carson wrestlers ready for Sierra Nevada Classic

BY MIKE HOUSER

Nevada Appeal Sports Writer

Although its early-season success has come as no surprise to anyone on the Carson wrestling team, the Senators’ 6-1 start (2-0 in the Sierra League) has taken aback many in the local wrestling community.

Carson will try to continue its run in the 34th annual Asics Sierra Nevada Classic, a 96-team, 64-man bracket tournament, which begins today at the Reno Livestock Events Center.

Doors open at 8 a.m., with competition beginning at 9 a.m. The SNC concludes Tuesday, with the championship round beginning at 5 p.m.

As with the annual Reno Tournament of Champions, the Sierra Nevada Classic is so competitive that individuals do well to make it to the second day.

Carson coach Tim McCarthy said one of the advantages of competing in such a difficult event is that he and his team gets an early look at the rest of the local competition.

“It will be good to see how we do,” said McCarthy, who will field a 13-man squad, good enough to fill all but one of the 14 weight classifications. “We’ve been going to some mid-level type tournaments, with 24-27 teams in them. It will be interesting to see how we do in this arena.”

SNC director Jeff Tomac, who was an assistant at Carson under McCarthy from 1996-98 and is currently the head coach for the Reno Huskies, said there could be a lot of parity in this year’s tournament.

Los Gatos (Calif.) claimed last year’s team title when Caldwell (Idaho) was disqualified.

Tomac, who won the SNC’s 155-pound title as a senior in 1984, said he expected Caldwell, Flathead (Kalispell, Mont., Thurston (Springfield, Ore.), and Sedro Wooley (Wash.) to be the top teams.

Tomac, who along with Don Manoukian (177) and Joe Rissone (190) were the last Huskies to win the tournament, said Spring Creek could be Northern Nevada’s top-scoring squad ” “They have three hammers on their team,” he said of the Spartans, speaking of Cameron Hopper (119), Nick Wooden (140) and Briar Saddoris (160).

The North will be well-represented with such teams as Fallon, Douglas, Galena, Damonte Ranch, Yerington, Reed, Spanish Springs, McQueen, Reno, North Valleys and Yerington, among others.

Tomac also said the match of the tournament could be a meeting between Bishop Gorman’s Steven Hernandez (ranked No.1 nationally at 145 pounds) and Caldwell’s Colby Kloetzere.

“(Kloetzere) is a funky kid,” Tomac said. “He has some goofy stuff, and sometimes funky and goofy can neutralize talented stuff. He has Jedi stuff.”

Carson heavyweight Chuck Gupthill, a 1987 state champion, was the last Senator to win the tournament (in 1986) before Todd Banko claimed the 130-pound title in 2005.

McCarthy said he expects 160-pounder Junior Valladares to have a solid performance after making it to the second day of the tournament last year.

“I think Junior has the best shot (on the team) to place in the top eight,” he said. “To make the second day you have to have to win four matches on day one.

“I hope he improves (on last year’s performance). He’s been wrestling tough the last couple of weeks.”

McCarthy said “some of the other kids have wrestled awesome at times.”

“Adam Welch (at 125) is kind of hot and cold ” mainly hot,” McCarthy said. “When he’s on, he’s on. He’s got real moments of greatness. He could be dangerous in the tournament.”

McCarthy said 145-pound freshman Nicholas Garcia may be young, but he has a lot of Sierra Wrestling Association (SWA) experience.

“He hasn’t been on the mat much as a freshman, but he has a couple hundred matches under his belt,” McCarthy said.

Then there’s senior Bret Allen, at 152 pounds.

“Hopefully, he’ll have a good tournament,” McCarthy said. “Like Adam, he doesn’t look good at times. But a lot of times in practice, we coaches will say, ‘Hey, this kid is the best we’ve got in the room.'”

At 285 pounds, senior Max Schadeck is Carson’s heaviest wrestler.

“He won two matches here last year,” McCarthy said. “He’s got a good shot to make it to day two. He’s a gentle giant, but he finds a way to win.”

So does 119-pound junior Ricky Ugarte.

“He tries to stay in very match, even when he’s out-techniqued,” McCarthy said. “That’s what we need. You never know what happens in a match when a guy gets (hot).”

McCarthy will be looking to his upperclassmen for some leadership.

“We’d really like to see our juniors and seniors do well. (Senior) Chris Steele can beat some people (at 189),” he said. “It’s good to see when you get a younger guy win some matches. He can get a good spot in the bracket and find a way through it.”

All-session passes are $20 for adults and $10 for seniors and children.

First-and second-day tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and children. Finals tickets are $5 and $3, respectively.