Fallon aims to defend state championship
The Greenwave wrestling team is looking to do something that hasn’t been done in program history.
Win multiple state championships.
After surprising the state last year and then taking second in last weekend’s regional tournament, the defending state champions are back to work today and Saturday in the Class 3A state tournament at Spanish Springs High School.
The championship quarterfinals begin at 1:30 p.m. today followed by the championship semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Saturday’s action begins at 9:30 a.m. with the consolation rounds followed by the consolation finals at 1:15 p.m. The parade of champions is at 2:30 p.m. with the championship finals to follow.
“When we started the season, I told the kids they’re being held to a high standard,” second-year coach Trevor de Braga said. “This season, we are returning state champions and we have a target on our backs to be knocked off. I’ve told them several times throughout the year that we are not last year’s team and we are a new team with a buck to prove.”
Fallon qualified nine from the regional tournament — including four champions and four runner-ups — for this weekend. Brothers Tommy (113 pounds) and Sean (145) McCormick, Matt Goings (160) and Ben Dooley (220) each won their weight class, while Terry White (120), Jack Swisher (152), Chase Hyde (182) and Kobe Abe (285) took second. Mason Smith (126) was one takedown away from reaching the finals but battled back for third.
Fallon’s number of qualifiers ranks third behind southern regional champ Boulder City (16) and northern regional champ Spring Creek (10). The Greenwave, though, qualified the second-most No. 1 seeds behind Virgin Valley’s five.
“I feel like that once it’s been done before, we can do it again this year,” Dooley said.
Like last year’s team that paled in comparison to the number of qualifiers, Fallon will need to rely on dominating the first two rounds. The Greenwave sent all but one of its 10 qualifiers to the podium last year and had the tournament won before the medal round.
Flawless execution is the key.
“We don’t have any room for errors with teams having that many scorers,” de Braga said. “Each kid has to wrestle his best each match and be victorious. Losing a match that we shouldn’t could hurt the team title chance tremendously. We just have to take care of business and wrestle the best they have all year.”
Sean McCormick and Goings won individual state titles last year and will be going for a repeat this weekend, while Tommy McCormick and Dooley are wrestling in their first state tournament.
De Braga said his 145-pound wrestler has been focused and needs to continue to wrestle like he has all season. McCormick will take on Del Sol’s Emmanuel Kortue, the No. 4 seed from the south.
“Everything looks bright for Sean, he just has to wrestle like he usually does. Stay confident, be physical and dominate,” de Braga added.
With his younger brother wrestling in state, it’s a moment of déjà vu for the Greenwave after Matt Goings and his brother, Sam, each won state titles last year. Tommy McCormick, a freshman, has been strong throughout the season and de Braga likens his chances to his older brother at winning state. McCormick will meet Mojave’s Dominic Mota, the No. 4 seed from the south, in his first state bout.
“I would say at this point in the year he is our most consistent wrestler and I would even say he is our best pound-for-pound kid in the room,” de Braga said. “It’s not going to be a cake walk for him but his chances look great for winning a title.”
Tommy McCormick’s been soaking in the fun in his first season with the Greenwave.
“It’s a ton of fun. The team cheers you on,” he said. “Our team really brings it together.”
After battling through a slump, Goings is back on track. Goings was headed to the consolation round at regionals until he snagged a late escape to tie and send his semifinal match into overtime. Two overtime periods later, Goings scored a reversed and nearfall to advance.
“He can repeat if he stays confident on his feet and dominates,” de Braga said of Goings, who will take on the No. 4 seed from the south, Desert Pines’ Adulberto Santiago.
Dooley has emerged this season as Fallon’s top upperweight wrestler but will face a tough challenge with the defending state champion, Don Phillips of Mojave, if he can advance to the title bout. Dooley faces Cheyenne’s Shonomon Lewis, the south’s No. 4 seed, in his first match.
“Ben Dooley was a blessing to the wrestling team and the town of Fallon,” de Braga said. “He’s an ox and works his tail off. He, as well, has grown as a great wrestler and has been dominant the past month. Ben can win his first title in Nevada. I’m excited to see what Ben does this weekend but he has what it takes to take the crown.”
Fallon’s four runner-ups could have won regional titles, as well, and will be set up for state to end the season on top.
White, a senior, will have one of the most difficult obstacles with two-time state champion Ty Smith from Virgin Valley going for his third title. If White wins his opener against No. 3 seed Alexander Partrana of Desert Pines, he will encounter Smith barring any upset.
“If Terry wrestles with confidence and wrestles to his ability, he can knock off Smith,” de Braga said. “He’s in great shape and has all the tools. Now, it’s just on him. I’m confident Terry can beat him and get to the finals. If he does that, he has to wrestle great and he can be a champion as well.”
Swisher missed out on the regional title bout because of a lingering shoulder injury. He forfeited the match but de Braga said the senior grappler is ready to win his first-ever state title. Swisher encounters No. 3 seed Gavin Henrie of Moapa Valley in the first bout.
“Jack has been wanting to be a state champion for years and this is his year to do it,” de Braga said. “He’s battling a shoulder injury but he’s determined and I don’t think anything can get in his way.”
Hyde had to drop a weight class during the season because of illness but has rebounded well. De Braga said it’s possible to see Hyde place in the top three and even make it to the finals. But Hyde will need to get past Cheyenne’s Cajuin Jackson, the No. 3 seed, in the first round.
“Chase has grown so much this year as a wrestler,” de Braga added. “He’s moving well and having great success. He’s full of athleticism and if he believes he can do it, I can see him in the state finals as well. I don’t see anything less than top three for Chase.”
For Abe to take the title in the heavyweight division, he will need to avenge his regional loss to Elko’s Luis Salazar. Abe hung in the match and didn’t fall by pin, battling to the last second. De Braga sees Abe’s agility and quickness benefiting him this weekend. Abe faces Sunrise Mountain’s Jose Lara, the No. 3 seed, in the opener.
“He is very deceitful because he may be 260 pounds but he moves like a light weight,” de Braga said. “He is a strong kid with great feet. He is slick enough to take guys down without them knowing it. If Kobe wrestles exactly like he practices, he can be in the state championship. He has to be confident and just go and execute.”
Smith nearly made it to the regional finals after an overtime loss in the semifinals. De Braga said Smith is more than capable of coming out a champion but it won’t be easy. Smith takes on No. 2 seed Michael Childs of Mojave in the first round.
“He has to win his first and then beat a tough Elko kid but I believe he can do it,” de Braga added. “Mason can beat any kid he puts his mind to. Mason just has to be confident and go out and do it. I hope he’s determined because he can be a champion this weekend.”