Carson’s Schlager redeems himself
RENO – After missing last year’s Asics Sierra Nevada Classic because of a broken finger, Nick Schlager said he just wanted to wrestle hard this year and let the chips fall where they may.
The chips fell perfectly for Schlager, who wiped out last year’s disappointment by winning the 135-pound title Wednesday night at the Reno Livestock Events Center.
Schlager’s other two teammates – Pat Craugh (103) and Nicolas Garcia (145) weren’t quite as fortunate. Both lost their opening matches Wednesday and were eliminated.
Schlager, who was 6-0 in the tourney, won in impressive fashion, too.
He pinned two-time Oregon state champion Mikie Rodriguez of Hillsboro High School in the first round.
According to Carson coach Tim McCarthy, the last Carson champion at the Sierra Nevada Classic was Kyle Banko.
“It’s up there no doubt,” said Schlager when asked where the title ranked among his athletic conquests. “It was hard last season to end with a loss. To come out here in one of the biggest tournaments of the year and win … This is a bigger tournament than state in terms of the amount of teams and wrestlers. State was tougher. You had tough match after tough match.
“I wrestled him over the summer at the Oklahoma State team camp. In the end he beat me by one or two points.
“I just wanted to wrestle hard and see what I could do. I hoped I would win. I felt like I could definitely place.”
Schlager’s length and leverage made a big difference. Rodriquez kept shooting, but Schlager kept the stocky Rodriguez off his legs.
Schlager fell behind 2-0 on a takedown, but evened the match at two with a reversal. Then came the pin on what Schlager called a “half-nelson” move with 25 seconds left in the period.
“Amazing,” McCarthy said. “To pin a two-timer state champion in the first round is big time. He had a good game plan. Other than having amazing leverage, he’s as mentally tough as they come. He’s a super strong kid.”
Schlager opened the day with a 7-2 win against Nico Serrano of Liberty High (Brentwood, Calif.).
Schlager took an early 2-0 lead on a takedown, but Serrano tied the match on a reversal.
In the third round, Schlager scored two on a reversal and then added three more on a near fall inside the final minute. He rode out the final 30 seconds in a controlling position, almost pinning Serrano.
“I knew I was ahead,” Schlager said. “He was moving around underneath so it wasn’t stalling.”
Schlager went on to beat Dalton Urrutia of Lebanon (Ore.) 17-5 in the semifinals.
Urrutia got the early jump on Schlager with a quick first-period takedown and a 2-0 lead. Schlager bounced back with a reversal and 3-point near fall for a 5-2 lead after one.
Urrutia did close to 5-4 on a reversal, but a 2-point takedown and 2-point near fall made it 9-4 after the second period. The near fall in the opening period came from a video, according to Schlager.
“It’s a little scary when you behind so quick, but that also depends on who you are wrestling,” Schlager said. “Once I got back into my basic position I relaxed.
“It (the 3-point move) was kind of a wrist and a half; then I try to tilt him. I saw it on a video. It works for me.”
Garcia, who dropped down to 145 pounds for the tournament, went up against Jackson Hoyt of Sheldon High (Ore.). The match was originally scheduled for Tuesday night, but Hoyt had already reached his five-match maximum.
Hoyt grabbed a quick 2-0 lead on a takedown, but Garcia worked an escape to make it 2-1. Garcia appeared to get the upper hand and appeared ready to take down Hoyt for a 3-2 lead.
However, Garcia suddenly found himself on his back, and moments later he was pinned at 90 seconds of the second round.
“I was pretty comfortable,” Garcia said. “I had a clean shot. He just caught me in a headlock and it was hard to get out of.”
McCarthy was obviously disappointed to see his young sophomore lose so early in the day.
“The kid did what’s called a boomer,” McCarthy said. “He corralled his head and threw a hip into him .
“One of Nico’s problems has been letting a mistake terminate a match. Mistakes are going to happen, but you can’t let them end the match.”
Craugh, who came back from a big deficit to get to the second day was no match for Folsom’s Connor Pollock, dropping a 15-1 decision.
“The kid was quicker and stronger,” McCarthy said, referring to Pollock. “It was a positive tournament for Pat. He pulled off a nice upset of the No. 3 seed on Tuesday. Confidence wise hopefully this will help him and inspire him to work harder in the practice room.”