Memorial tournament kicks off season |

Memorial tournament kicks off season

Thomas Ranson
Fallon's Matt Goings, who's wrestling against Reno in Wednesday's scrimmage, will defend his state title this year.

One of Churchill County High School’s mainstays returns for another year when the Earl Wilkens Memorial Tournament invades Fallon this weekend.

The defending 3A state champ Greenwave wrestling team hosts the two-day tournament, beginning today at 3 p.m. and resuming Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at the Elmo Dericco Gym and new auxiliary gym, which was finished this year.

“We want to expand the tournament getting more teams and hopefully leads to getting out of state teams,” second-year Fallon coach Trevor de Braga said. “It’s a great tournament to honor great men, and help us kick off the season with great competition. I know teams don’t want to travel over the pass and I want our tournament to grow each year. So making it two days is the first start.”

Named after coach Earl Wilkens and later attributed to Lee Riggins, a former wreslter who died last decade, the tournament has been a good measure for teams but it also holds a special place with the Fallon program.

“This tournament means a lot to the Greenwave wrestling alum,” said de Braga, who won a state title with the Greenwave. “I didn’t know them but being a Greenwave wrestler and now coach, they are very familiar names and I feel like I know the kind of people they are from stories of wrestlers who were coached by Wilkens or wrestled with Riggins. This is a great way to honor two great men in the Greenwave wrestling community.”

Traditionally, the tournament has been only one day and attracts mainly the lower divisions and some 4A JV schools. However, this year’s tournament serves as the unofficial kickoff to the Northern Nevada wrestling season as at least 12 teams will compete, including six from the 4A. Big-name schools include Manogue, Carson, Douglas, Elko, Lowry, Galena, Spanish Springs and Yerington.

In addition to the extra day and more teams, special awards will be given out to the wrestlers. The weight classes will be grouped into four categories with an outstanding wrestler being awarded for each. A buckle will be given out for Outstanding Rookie to a first-year wrestler.

“This tournament has grown tremendously because we have reached out to all of the 4A schools to get some great early season competition,” de Braga added. “We made the tournament two days, allowed more teams to enter, and will be giving out some special awards for the top competitors of the tournament to help intrigue teams a bit. Also, it helps that teams won’t have to travel over the Donner pass in bad weather to wrestle tough teams. They can come to Fallon and get the same out of it.”