If there was a lesson learned from the Class 3A State Wrestling Championships, it was this: Do not look away when Anthony Pearson is on the mat.
Pearson and an opponent will be muddling along, no real direction in a bout, then suddenly Pearson will make a move and seconds later it’s all over.
That was never more evident than during the consolation rounds of the tournament Saturday at Virgin Valley High School in Mesquite, as Pearson finished off Anthony Jones of Mojave and Jasper Melgar of Sparks with second-period pins to claim third place at 195 pounds.
“If I feel a kid is pretty weak when we’re neutral, I try and wear them down so that when I get on top or on bottom, I fly up and try to take them down,” Pearson explained.
The feeling-out process easily can take the entire first period, which is why Pearson’s consolation bouts were both 0-0 after the first period.
Against Jones — the fourth time the two had wrestled this season — Pearson needed just 13 seconds of the second period to get the pin after no scoring during the first.
“It was entirely different than the last time,” said Pearson, 2-2 against Jones this year. “I beat him in the first period with a throw. I’d say we’re pretty evenly matched. I just got the upper hand on that one.”
So how did he turn around the bout so quickly?
“I just listened to my coach,” he said.
Even after beating a familiar foe on the big stage, Pearson said he would have preferred a less familiar opponent.
“If I know what someone wants to do, I’m going to try and defend it more instead of defending everything,” he said.
The win over Jones set up a second battle with Melgar, who was pinned by Pearson in Friday’s quarterfinals. Again, Pearson was locked in a scoreless tie after one period, and he chose down when Melgar deferred to start the second. Fifteen seconds later, Pearson had the escape, 23 seconds after that he had a takedown, and 20 seconds later it was over.
“I just worked hard on top until I got him into a situation where I can pin him,” Pearson said.
Friday’s bout with Melgar also was 0-0 after the first period.
“He wasn’t doing anything,” Pearson said. “I was just trying to wear him down by being real heavy on the head.”
Starting down in the second, Pearson needed 37 seconds to finish off Melgar.
“That was branding,” he explained. “I branded his arm. It worked on Boulder City last week, and it worked this week.”
Mixed in with the three wins was a loss to Valley’s John Baloyot in the semifinals. Baloyot was the Southern Region champion, but the two did not wrestle in that tournament. The bout went into the third period, but Baloyot was able to advance by fall in 4:48.
“I tried to throw him, and he just rolled me,” Pearson said. “Just unlucky. Besides that, everything else was awesome. I’m very happy with my place. Last year I didn’t place at all, so coming here and placing third is a huge step up.”
While Pearson was the only Trojan wrestler to place at the state championships, he was not the only one to post a victory. At 132, sophomore Coby Tillery, making his second trip to state, lost his opening bout to Lowry’s Taylor Corak but rebounded with an easy victory in the consolation quarterfinals, pinning North Valley senior Joaquin Arevalo in 35 seconds.
“Right off the whistle we both shot at the same time,” Tillery explained. “I was just lower, so I got the shot. I turned around and my bar just slipped in, so I just ran my bar and pinned him. It was a pretty quick match; he just got caught.”
Tillery then suffered an 11-0 major decision against Spring Creek senior Riley Fuchs, the Northern Region champion who went on to finish third in the state championships.
Senior Donnie Miller at 126 and sophomore Jared Mudge at 285 did not fare as well. Matched up with Northern Region champion Kodis Campbell of Spring Creek in the first round, Miller lost by technical fall at the final whistle, then was pinned by Austin Workman of Virgin Valley in his first consolation bout. Workman went on to place third.
First-year wrestler Mudge also faced a Northern Region champion in his first bout, drawing Lowry junior Shane Mattson, who recorded a pin in 1:21. Elko senior Gabe Lazono then eliminated Mudge with a first-period pin on his way to a third-place finish.
Spring Creek won the team title, compiling 182 points to 168 for second-place SLAM Academy. Virgin Valley was a distant third with 83 points, followed by Lowry (63) and Fernley (60). Pahrump Valley tied Boulder City for 12th with 19 points.