By becoming the best, you always want to face and defeat the best.
The Reno Tournament of Champions, one of the toughest high school tournaments in the country, and the Sierra Nevada Classic, one of the toughest in the region, showcased the Greenwave wrestling team last month and gave the grapplers a sense of where they stand among the elite. Fallon held its own during these two tournaments as Sam Goings and Trae Workman made it deep in the RTOC, while both shined in the SNC, placing in the top four.
While the focus is naturally on these two tournaments because they’re the biggest and most competitive, more importance is centered on the smaller, local competitions. Last weekend’s Sparks Invitational fielded 23 teams, all competitors in the NIAA, but it presented an opportunity for wrestlers not only to get more mat time but find out how strong the divisional competition will be when it comes time for the league tournaments.
Trevor de Braga, a state champion wrestler when Fallon competed in the old 4A (now Division I), has this year’s group heading toward making a strong run in his first season at the helm. While depth has always been an issue for Fallon wrestling for the past decade, the Sparks Invitational showed that the Greenwave is going to be a contender for the regional championship, and even the state title.
Three wrestlers came out as champions and two finished in the top five as Fallon, carrying only eight wrestlers, took fifth in the tournament. Fallon finished behind only Fernley from the Division I-A and the Vaqueroes carried a larger line-up.
“I was very pleased especially since most teams had full varsity squads and had six varsity kids not compete,” de Braga said.
Juniors Terry White (106 pounds) and Dylan McAfee (126) and freshman Sean McCormick (138) won their division, while sophomore Mason Smith (120) took third and junior Kobe Abe (285) finished fourth. Sam and Matt Goings, Jack Swisher and Workman didn’t compete.
It might be too early to tell, but Fallon’s going to be a force in the Division I-A as it could capture at least a third of the individual championships, if not more.
Fernley, Lowry, Spring Creek and Elko are always going to be tough but last year proved that Lowry’s time as the leader of the division could be coming to an end after dominating the state for more than a decade. The Buckaroos finished second in last year’s state tournament and in the recent tournaments, they look vulnerable. Spring Creek is emerging as a contender and Fernley flexed its muscles last weekend in Sparks.
“It’s hard to see tell what the D1-A is shaping out to be at this point but I can tell you we are aiming at a state and regional title,” de Braga said. “Every one of them is coached well and has the numbers to win titles.”
What the early tournaments have shown for Fallon is that the Greenwave can compete with the toughest, despite having smaller numbers. The key will be finishing matches when the third period comes and tests each wrestler’s endurance late in the day. And even if some wrestlers get bounced from the championship bracket early, their progress in the consolation round will matter just as much because it still gets your team points. Every point matters.
“We’ve got to win the tough matches and wrestle up to our capabilities and we can get some banners,” de Braga said.
It’s becoming a common theme in Greenwave athletics to capture state championships. Wrestling has never won a state team championship so this year would be a good time to start a new winning tradition.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at email@example.com.