Carson wrestlers look to zone |

Carson wrestlers look to zone

Dave Price

Today marks the start of the Northern 4A zone wrestling tournament, a date Carson Branden Lamborn has had marked in his own mind for quite some time.

Even as far back as last summer when he spent 28 days at Jay Robinson’s High intensive Wrestling Camp in Minnesota, along with Carson teammates Steve Schofield, Justin Sarnowski and Justin Shine.

Lamborn, a senior 160-pounder and team co-captain for the Senators, would love nothing more than to go out on a winning note when the zone tournament is held today and Saturday at Galena High School, to be followed by the NIAA/U.S. Bank State 4A Tournament next weekend at Cimarron-Memorial High School in Las Vegas.

“Win zone and win state, that’s my goal,” Lamborn said. “(Justin) Shine, Sarno (Justin Sarnowski), Steve (Schofield), we were there and we all came out of there with the same goal.”

“It really helped,” Shine added. “We really learned a lot about the mental … being able to push yourself in the third period and tell yourself, ‘Who’s going to win?'”

The Senators are upbeat about their chances at zone. Not to merely be successful, mind you, but to bring home a team title.

“I think we have a shot to win it,” senior 215-pounder Ben Johnson said. “The way we feel about it, you don’t go into a tournament like this looking to take second. Especially the seniors, as hard as we’ve worked this season, we feel we deserve to win.”

Carson was considered to be a prime title contender in the preseason with three individual zone gold medalists due to return. However, senior Steve Schofield suffered a broken wrist that ended his season in November, Frank DiMartino didn’t get through the season, plus 1999 state qualifier Shane Van Zant transferred to Dayton and is competing in the 3A state tournament which begins today in Lovelock.

“We’ve had some things happen, but I still like to think we at least have an outside shot at being zone champs,” Carson coach Tim McCarthy said. “Wrestling is such a long season, it’s tough on the body and tough on the psyche, for the most part, the kids are healthy right now and they’re looking forward to this weekend.”

The Senators will bank heavily on the veteran nucleus of Doug Brooks, Sarnowski and Shine who have qualified for state the last two years.

Sarnowski is 36-9 this season and is back to defend his zone 130-pound weight class title. Brooks is 32-8, including gold medals at the Oakdale, Sparks and Albany tournaments (he was the Outstanding Wrestler award winner at Albany, Calif.). And Shine is 32-10 with first-place finishes in the Sparks and Albany tournaments to his credit.

“I think we have a good chance to take it,” Shine said of Carson’s team championship prospects. “We have five guys who can get to the finals. We kind of made a pact this week that we were all going to be there.”

Galena, the Northern 4A regular season dual meet champion, is rated as a slight pre-tournament favorite but a pack of challengers figures to be in hot pursuit of the Grizzlies. The list includes Elko, Lowry, Reno, Wooster, as well as Carson. Wooster won six straight titles between 1993 and ’98 and Fallon won last year.

“What wins these zone championships is the guys wrestling back for third and fourth,” Reno coach Jeff Tomac said. “Galena has a lot of those guys and I think their overall depth is what gives them the edge coming in.”

Tournament director Jim Coverley believes Galena has a chance to bring home the school’s first zone wrestling championship, although he did point out that consolation bracket points won’t come easily.

“Since we’re only going to place four (in each weight class) instead of six, there are not going to be as many consolation points available like in the past,” Coverley said.

“I don’t think anyone is coming in feeling comfortable about their chances to win,” added Coverley, who formerly coached at Galena and Sparks. “Everybody is wondering what is going to happen, and that makes for a good tournament.”