Going to the state wrestling tournament can be a positive experience regardless of results, especially for younger wrestlers who get a chance to see what it takes to get to the top.
“They had a good regular season, a good dual team, but individually we’ve got to have people step up,” Pahrump Valley wrestling coach Craig Rieger said after his Trojans finished 10th at the Class 3A State Championships at the Winnemucca Events Center. “It’s not so much for the team, you have to do everything you can because you want to be at the pinnacle. And a lot of our young guys saw that.”
And some even younger guys might be seeing it before too long.
“There’s a group of really talented seventh-graders coming,” Rieger added. “It will be exciting in a couple of years.”
Rieger has been raving about his freshmen all season, and he is enthusiastic about sophomore Anthony Pearson’s future as well. But you can’t reach the end of the season without thinking about your seniors, and Rieger was no exception.
“Isaak Cruz and Tristan Maughan really had a solid year. Spencer Lane, Christian Monje, Jesus Hurtado, all good kids, and they each had their moments. That was nice.”
If there was a regret, it was that health concerns kept two wrestlers out of the lineup almost the entire season, and the Trojans left three weight classes unfilled during the postseason.
”It would have been nice to have a Donnie Miller in the lineup, a Dylan Grossell in the lineup, but that happens everywhere,” Rieger said. “You’ve got to deal with injuries.”
Isaak Cruz put in a lot of work to take third place at 145 pounds in Winnemucca.
After opening with a pin in 1:23 of junior Isaiah McClain of Northern Valleys, Cruz went to overtime before losing to Lowry junior Cade Bell. In the consolations, the same pattern emerged, with Cruz winning by fall in his first bout, against Western junior Juan Vargas, the wrestler he decisioned 4-0 in the Southern Region final, and then going overtime against South Tahoe junior Nate Singelyn.
Hard work was needed just to get to overtime.
“I was on bottom, he tried hooking in a leg and he messed it up,” Cruz said. “I got on top, and from there I cradled him and got three near fall points. We went to overtime.”
Cruz paused and asked, “Do you want to hear about the overtime?” Well, sure, I guess, I mean if you want …
“The first overtime, he was on bottom, and my goal was just hold him down, run my moves,” Cruz recalled while sitting in the bleachers Saturday afternoon. “He stood up, but I was able to turn him back down, but I got one point called on me for stalling. Then, in the second overtime I was on bottom, and he again tried hooking in a leg, I spun out, got on top, got two reversal points, and I won the match. It was a whole lot of work.”
Cruz did not hang around long in the state tournament last year at The Orleans in Las Vegas, Wrestling at 132, he opened the tournament by getting pinned by eventual champion Tommy McCormick of Churchill County in 1:52 and was eliminated in his first consolation bout in a 7-6 decision against Marc Gonzalez of Chaparral.
So what made this year different?
“I got my stuff together,” Cruz said. (No, I didn’t edit that. That’s what he said). “I got my moves right, I know what I like, and I’m not as floppy, I guess you could say.”
Placing in state is a nice way to go out, but Cruz thinks he could have accomplished more.
”I feel like I could have done way better,” he said. “I still did good, but there’s always room for improvement.”
What’s in a name?
The TrackWrestling.com website is a wonderful resource for keeping track of tournaments all over the nation, but the site’s format occasionally has unfortunate results.
For schools with two-word names, the common abbreviation is to take the first two letters of each of the first two words. So Spring Creek gets SPCR, Sunrise Mountain gets SUMO, etc.
Perhaps Lake Mead Christian Academy can ask to be referred to by the LMCA acronym. After all, every single wrestler the Eagles entered in any tournament had his name followed by LAME.
Doesn’t seem right.
When Dylan Wright decided to wrestle down at 160 for the postseason, it seemed inevitable that he would face Tristan Maughan at the Southern Region Championships at Moapa Valley High School and possibly again at state. And that did happen, with Wright winning both times.
But while they will be remembered for their bouts in the region final and the consolation final in Winnemucca, each of them had an outstanding season that offers more memories than facing their teammate in a big spot.
“I wrestled up a lot,” Wright noted. “I was weighing about 170. It was eye-opening. You think you’re strong but you’re really not, because there’s always someone stronger.
“I ended the season 33-2 as opposed to 33-5 last year. I’m glad the way my season went.”
Looking ahead, the sophomore who took over the starting quarterback job for the football team has a firm idea in his head about what’s in store for his junior year.
”I’m looking to get up to 200 pounds by football season and then wrestle at 195,” he said.
Maughan was also in the 30-win club and believes he could have had more.
“I think I’m 31-7,” he said after the consolation final at state. “I started off December pretty strong. I lost one quick match in the first dual, and I was probably 10-1 before I lost my second and my third. All three of those I could have won, I just wasn’t at my peak yet.
“After that, January I started coming in really good, doing much better than I was. I didn’t lose until the finals at Chaparral, and that was a 7-6 match. Then Dylan at regionals in the finals, (Spring Creek’s defending state champion) Beau Chacon, and then Dylan again.
So basically if there was an RPI for high school wrestling, Maughan’s strength of schedule would have him rated pretty highly.
(OK, so these are not leftovers so much as an “I forgot to post the Trojans Wrestling Notebook online last week but want to make sure the wrestlers get proper credit for what they did in the regions” section.)
While Cruz, Wright and Maughan competed for region championships, three other Pahrump Valley High School wrestlers earned their way to the state championships by placing third or fourth at their weight classes, clinching berths with victories in the consolation semifinals.
First was freshman Mason Prunchak. Prunchak was eliminated from the main draw by Chaparral sophomore Michael Garcia’s first-period pin, but he rebounded to beat freshman Juan Gomez of Sunrise Mountain with a fall at 3:53 in his first consolation, then defeated Gomez’s sophomore teammate, Osvaldo Diaz, with a pin in 2:43 in the consolation semifinals.
“I was just working hard,” Prunchak said. “I kept getting him down, he got out a couple of times. I finally got the chicken wing. The first time, he slipped out of that. I took him down again. I tried a bar a couple of times, I couldn’t get it to stick out, but I finally got the last chicken wing in, and that sealed the deal.”
The fact that he lost to Garcia again in the third-place bout in 44 seconds couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm over making state for Prunchak.
”I am so excited right now,” he said.
Classmate Coby Tillery locked up his spot at state a few minutes later. Tillery won his first bout at 126, pinning Mojave junior Jayzen Cabbab in 3:29. He then was knocked out of the main draw by the eventual champion, Virgin Valley junior Austin Workman, in 42 seconds.
That set up a consolation bout with Jason Abbott, who had received a forfeit after losing his first bout in the main draw. Going in, Tillery was confident.
“He was JV at Virgin Valley, and I had a close match with the varsity on Virgin Valley, so I was pretty confident I had him,” Tillery said.
Midway through the second period, he did.
“I started off on bottom,” Tillery explained. “I grabbed his ankle, then I grinded him out, put him in the bar and just turned it.”
And so it was on to state.
“I’m going to try my hardest to place in it,” he said. “I don’t think I wrestled a freshman today at all.” Tillery was right about that; the Trojan freshman wrestled three juniors and a sophomore on his path to Winnemucca.
Also finishing third was sophomore Anthony Pearson at 195, who came in feeling confident about making it to state.
“The only kid I never got a pin on was the Chaparral kid, so I thought I had a really good shot at it,” he said. Of course, the Chaparral kid, senior Brian Hernandez, was Pearson’s first-round opponent, and Hernandez’s 7-4 decision sent Pearson to the consolations with no margin for error.
It didn’t matter. First was Moapa Valley sophomore Cropper Henrie, and a 2-2 tie after one period became a very quick pin in the second. Then came Virgin Valley sophomore Shane Zarate, and it only took Pearson a few seconds longer to record another win.
Zarate took down Pearson 22 seconds in, and it took Pearson the rest of the first to manage an escape. When Zarate deferred to start the second, Pearson chose top, and it took 42 seconds to get the fall.
“I just listened to my coaches,” Pearson said. “They gave me very good advice, they taught me well, and I just performed.”
It was the first time Pearson and Zarate met on the mats.
”I think it’s a lot more challenging to wrestle a kid you’ve never wrestled before,” he said, before turning his attention to state. “This was the goal from the start, just to get to state and perform my best.”
So with Prunchak, Tillery and Pearson joining 145-pound champion Isaak Cruz, 160-pound champion Dylan Wright and 160-pound runner-up Tristan Maughan in Winnemucca, it was a pretty good weekend for a team that left three weight classes unfilled in the tournament.
“Having six come through is good, and we also had three fifth places and a sixth,” Pahrump Valley coach Craig Rieger said. Garrett Cosper (113), Christian Monje (220) and Armani McGhee (285) each won their fifth-place bouts, while Henry Amaya (132) finished sixth. “I think only three boys we brought didn’t place.”
Wright’s nemesis awaits
Should the seeds hold up, Wright will face Spring Creek sophomore Beau Chacon in the Class 3A state final at 160.
“I’ve wrestled him since I was 8, and I never beat him,” Wright said. “Tyler Green is the one I’ll have to wrestle to get to the final. I’ve never seen him before.”
Chacon, the Northern Region champ, was the Class 3A state champion at 152 a year ago, while Green, a junior from Sparks, lost a 7-2 decision to Chacon in the final. (As it turned out, Green defeated Wright while Chacon defeated Maughan in the semifinals at state.)
When Wright opens the state tournament Friday against freshman Emiliano Alonzo of Fernley, he will have two special fans in attendance. Wright’s father, David, was joined by his parents, Charlie and Peggy Wright, at Moapa Valley High School for the regionals, and they also will be in attendance this weekend at Winnemucca.
David said that his parents are avid readers of sports stories on pvtimes.com, keeping tabs on their grandson’s athletic exploits while living more than 2,500 miles from Pahrump Valley High School. Seeing an 88-year-old man who lives three time zones away sitting right up front made you wonder why so few schools seemed to have many parents and fans in attendance.
Looking forward to seeing three generations of Wrights up in Winnemucca. (And I did, running into David and Peggy while climbing down from the bleachers after chatting with Cruz.)
Friday night’s big match
David Wright and Dylan Grossell’s father, Tom, barely finished saying hello Saturday morning before raving about the fantastic match from the night before.
While the big match for Pahrump Valley people was Saturday’s 160-pound final between Dylan Wright and Tristan Maughan, Maughan had to pass a tough test Friday night just to stay in the main draw. And he did it in dramatic fashion that clearly thrilled Trojan supporters who made the trip.
Maughan was matched up against the top seed out of the Sunrise League, Boulder City senior Hayden Moore.
“I was aware he was pretty good,” Maughan said Saturday. “I started off OK, but he nearly had me pinned and it took about 20 seconds to get my arm out.”
The back points helped Moore build a 6-3 lead going into the third period. “I was feeling a little discouraged,” Maughan admitted, but that feeling was temporary.
“About halfway through (the third period) I managed to take him down,” Maughan said, a move that cut the lead to 6-5. “With about 15 seconds left I got two near-fall points, and I held him down the rest of the way.”
Maughan and Wright then recorded first-period pins in their semifinal bouts to set up their meeting in the final. But Maughan was just 15 seconds away from being sent to the consolations.
Instead, it was Moore who had the longer path to state, but if he was discouraged about that, it didn’t show. Moore dominated three consolation bouts, winning one by major decision and the next two by technical falls. Total score: 41-0.
With Chacon and Green from the Northern Region and Wright, Maughan and Moore from the Southern Region, the eventual 160-pound Class 3A state champion will have earned his title.
(Maughan and Moore faced each other again in Winnemucca, and Maughan’s 6-0 decision in the consolation semifinals set up the rematch with Wright in the third-place bout.)
Follow Nye sports on Twitter
The Pahrump Valley Times/Tonopah Times-Bonanza sports desk was based at the Winnemucca Events Center on Friday and Saturday for the state championships. Bout-by-bout results by Nye County wrestlers were available on our Twitter feed @PVTimesSports. With six wrestlers from Pahrump Valley in the 3A tournament and 10 from Tonopah in the 2A/1A tournament, there was plenty of news to follow. (OK, so nobody saw this in time to jump on the very roomy @PVTimesSports bandwagon. During the average sporting event I will have more tweets than followers. Sometimes many more. So follow me. Please. Even if you don’t care, just follow me to be nice. Right now I have seven followers, two of which are not individual people and one of whom I live with. I’ll beg if I have to. Follow @PVTimesSports on Twitter.)
Contact Sports Editor Tom Rysinski at email@example.com On Twitter:@PVTimesSports