Wave turns in best February with basketball, wrestling state titles

This year saw the best February on record for Greenwave athletics.

The wrestling team kicked off the postseason by crowning three regional championships and then four state titles the following week. The girls basketball team won its second-straight basketball title two weeks ago. Although the boys basketball team didn’t make the state playoffs, Fallon was crowned the state academic team champion.

And it didn’t end with the tournaments as the all-league and all-state teams were announced this week.

To no surprise, Anne Smith was named the girls basketball Coach of the Year for both the 3A northern region and state while Chelle Dalager’s transformation of the boys program earned her Coach of the Year for the region. The Lady Wave was the clear favorite to win both the regional and state championships and Smith’s squad didn’t disappoint. Fallon hasn’t lost a regular-season league game in three years and finished the job last month with another state title. Dalager’s team won five more league games compared to last season and improved in nearly offensive and defensive category as Fallon finished second in the league.

Both programs also led the region in selections as senior Caitlyn Welch was named the MVP and to the first team, and Leta and Leilani Otuafi were also named to the first team. Senior Faith Cornmesser was a second-team selection and senior Kaitlyn Hunter earned honorable mention. Leta Otuafi was also named to the all-state first team and Leilani Otuafi was named to the second team.

Although the Lady Wave loses five seniors, Fallon returns several key playmakers, including the Otuafis, and don’t be surprised if Smith’s team is the favorite to win it all next season. Her program has gone through the pains and struggles in building a solid foundation. The leadership that’s walked through the halls and into the gymnasium will continue paying off after the players finish their career at Fallon. Fallon is now the flagship of 3A girls basketball.

For the boys, Elijah Jackson was a first-team selection, both region and state, and junior John Cooley and sophomore Thomas Steele were named to the all-league second team. Juniors Trey Rooks and Hayden Strasdin were honorable mention.

Dalager’s group, unlike the girls, loses only one senior, Christian Nemeth, but his passion that fired up both his teammates and the opposition will be missed next season. Look for Fallon to challenge Elko for supremacy next year and end the Indians’ impressive run in the region. The future of the boys program is bright and heading in the same direction as the girls, winners of two back-to-back state titles.

On the wrestling mat, numbers continued to plague the Greenwave, affecting depth and filling all 14 weight classes. But Fallon, with only five wrestlers in the state tournament, still finished within striking distance of second place.

Sean McCormick continued his run of not only being the best athlete in the 3A but he’s one of the best in the state, regardless of classification. The junior grappler won his third regional and state titles, while senior Marcel Poracky, junior Ben Dooley and sophomore Tommy McCormick each won their first state title. Senior Mason Smith, who didn’t place at state, finished second at the regional.

The feeder programs at the youth and middle school levels put Trevor de Braga’s high school team in good shape. It’s not an easy sport – the toughest of all the seasons – and requires 100 percent commitment and dedication to improving and the ongoing drive of being better than the opposition. It showed in the four who won state titles in Las Vegas next month. Just imagine if that same drive were in four more wrestlers. Fallon would be unstoppable.

This winter season turned into one of the most successful in school history as Fallon showed that it’s a force both on the field of play and in the classroom.

And this may just be the beginning.

Thomas Ranson can be contacted at lvnsports@yahoo.com.


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