Keller, Marriott wrap up storied careers
Aaron Keller and Dustin Marriott wrapped up storied high school wrestling careers in fitting style last month with gold medal performances at the 3A state tournament in Lovelock.
Both became two-time state champions – Marriott in the 189-pound weight class for Yerington and Keller as a 152-pounder for Fernley – but that doesn’t begin to tell the story about blue chip wrestlers who come out of wrestling programs that boast plenty of tradition.
— Keller compiled a 54-4 record for his senior season, including a seventh-place finish at Reno’s prestigious Sierra Nevada Classic in December, and wound up with a school career record 183 wins. He is also Fernley’s first four-time state place finisher.
— Marriott was 42-6 this season and 113-38 for his career and the latest in a long line of Marriotts to wrestle at Yerington. His father, Stanley, is a 1981 Yerington grad and his cousin, Cliff Marriott, was a two-time state champion. Another cousin is current Fernley senior Bobby Burton, a three-time state champion.
“He’ll be missed next year,” Yerington coach Rod Lemos said. “Not only is he a good wrestler, he’s an inspiration to the younger kids.”
The only Nevada wrestler to beat Keller all season was Lowry’s Buster Segura, himself a two-time 4A state champion. Keller also lost a narrow verdict in the Sierra Nevada Classic quarterfinals to Darnell Williams of Castro Valley, a California state tournament qualifier this year. Keller was also a third-place medalist at state in both his freshman and sophomore seasons.
This season was his best, according to coach Steve Rieger.
“This was his best, without a doubt,” Rieger said. “He came out this year and it was like he was on a mission. He was focused for every match all season.”
Keller’s focus, not to mention good conditioning, paid off with overtime victories in his state semifinal and final matches. He scored an escape in the final 15 seconds to force overtime and then defeated Dayton’s Brett Peart 5-3. Keller outlasted Moapa Valley’s David Cameron 9-7 in the finals.
“That was probably the best match of the state tournament,” Rieger said of Keller’s win over Cameron. “You had two seniors who knew it was their last shot and they came to wrestle. They were like two bulls going at it.”
Conditioning also helped Keller in those last two matches.
“The coaches always stayed after us to work hard,” Keller said. “We ran every day, it was up to four miles a day at the end of the season. It paid off, too, because I always felt if it was close going into the third round, then I could win it.”
Keller, an all-division offensive lineman in football and a starter on Fernley’s baseball team, also had some motivation going for him.
“I just wanted it,” Keller said. “I won state last year, and I wanted to do something for my friend, Bobby (Burton).”
Fernley’s career record of 175 career wins set by former two-time state champ Cody Reeder was actually broken twice this season. Burton had the inside track, but was limited to a 14-1 record this season by two shoulder injuries, a strained rotator cuff in December and then a separation two weeks before state. Burton, who carries a 3.85 grade point average in the classroom, finished with a 181-16 career record, including a 54-1 mark and top 20 national ranking as a junior.
Marriott and Keller, who took up wrestling as fourth graders, both qualified for Nevada’s super state tournament in Elko last year. Keller won twice and lost twice, while Marriott was unable to compete because of a broken thumb he sustained two days before the tournament.
“I knew there wasn’t going to be a super state this year, so I just focused on the 3A guys,” said Marriott, who beat Dayton’s Shane Van Zant in the state finals, 5-0.
Van Zant had beaten Marriott one week before at the Lyon County Championships.
“I knew I could beat him so I worked hard all week, came back and tried to wrestle my style,” said the 6-foot-3 Marriott, an all-division tight end and defensive end in football.
He will be missed at Yerington.
“You see a lot of guys who are cocky or arrogant, but that’s not Dusty. He just went out and wrestled, did his job, and then came off,” Lemos went on. “He’s just a credit to the sport.”