O’Keefe, Basa survive at prestigious Reno tourney
RENO — The meat grinder known as the Reno Tournament of Champions devoured nearly the entire Carson High line-up Friday afternoon at the Reno Events Center.
Only two wrestlers — Brady O’ Keefe and Brandon Basa — escaped elimination in the 11-hour marathon session. Today’s action gets started at 9 a.m.
O’Keefe and Basa used different methods to achieve the desired destination.
O’Keefe went 3-0, winning by fall in all three of his matches to reach the quarterfinals for the second straight year.
Basa, meanwhile, needed a reversal with seven seconds left to beat Fabian Santillan from Grandview, 4-3, in an elimination match.
O’Keefe is treating this tournament like a college audition. The collegiate part of the tournament is slated for Sunday, and some of the coaches have already arrived.
After pinning Colby Preston of Spanish Springs with 28 seconds left in the second round, O’Keefe won again by pin in the second round. Cole barely put up more of a fight. O’Keefe put together a takedown with 36 seconds left in the first period, and then added a 3-point near fall at the tail end of the period. He made it 7-0 with a reversal and then going ahead 12-2 before pinning Cole with six seconds left in the match.
“I wanted to show the college coaches what they would get to work with after a year in their wrestling room,” O’Keefe said. “I tried to open up more; take more chances out there. I took more risks. Without risk there is no reward.
“Every year I’ve been here, I’ve been one win away from placing. I’m not going to let it happen again.”
Even Carson coach Justin Shine noticed the difference.
“He was way more aggressive,” Shine said. “He looked really good. He was taking a lot of shots, and that’s not his game.”
Getting to the second day was huge for Basa, who went 0-2 at last year’s event.
“It feels great; feels awesome,” Basa said.
Basa opened with a pin of league rival Greg Ewert of Damonte Ranch, and then he dropped a 2-1 heartbreaker to Enrique Landeras. He followed that up with back-to-back pins, the second one against Foothill’s Colton Stone. It was do or die against Santillan, and Basa found himself seconds away from being eliminated until he scored the aforementioned reversal to stun the Grandview star.
“When we started the last segment there were 30 seconds left, and I knew I had to escape to tie or get a reversal to win,” Basa said. “It was a little bit of both (mistake by Santillan and good wrestling by Basa). He got his hips too far out, and I was able to get on top and over.”
Basa dropped down to 113 for the event, and that move proved to be a wise one.
Connor Sievers (195) and Corey Jasper (220) both lost in the final round of consolation.
Jasper won his first two matches, beating Chico’s John Amatuccio, 8-2, and then registering a third-round pin of Austin Earley of Layton-Utah. Cohlton Schultz of Ponderosa pinned Jasper in 76 seconds in their third-round match, and then lost by decision to Spring Creek’s Brennan Reese.
Sievers opened against Reno’s Austin Lemons. Sievers built a 7-0 lead on a takedown, 3-point near fall and a takedown before putting Lemons out of misery with a pin 36 seconds into the second round. Sievers lost a tough match to Craig Stahlecker of Easton-Pennsylvania, 5-3. He came back with a 12-2 win before being eliminated by Union’s Jon Waters, 5-2. It was a solid performance from Sievers.
Carson got single wins from Kevin Rusler (182), Sheldon Miller (heavyweight), Kyle Rudy (126), Ethan Lepire (113) and Nathan Mersino (138).
NOTES: Terin Keller, Carson’s 106-pounder, was a late scratch. Shine said he got a call from Keller saying he wouldn’t be appearing at the tournament. Carson was unable to field a 120-pounder … Next up is the annual Sierra Nevada Classic on Dec. 29-30.