Empey pinned five opponents, including a pair of matches that finished in flashes of 44 seconds and 14 seconds, while also recording a 17-0 technical fall, on his way to winning the 220-pound weight class. The final match lasted 1:48 as the Raider standout earned a pin fall to secure the championship.
“It’s been a crazy ride,” Reed coach Dan Barraza said of watching Empey develop into one of the country’s best prep wrestlers. “When he came in as a freshman, I knew he was tough and that he had potential, but I never imagined that he would accomplish everything that he already has.
“He still has a whole season to go, but a lot of guys are lucky to have a couple of the wins that he has. He’s just done a fantastic job and he’s riding over a 100-match win streak, so he has the state record for consecutive matches and we’re still counting. He’s just so consistent and he works really hard and prepares himself. He treats every match as a championship match.”
Empey’s run in the 220s highlighted the weekend at the tournament for both Reed and Spanish Springs. The Raiders finished 26th overall (out of 120) with 73.5 points, while the Cougars ended the tourney in a tie for 37th with 50 points.
“This year was the toughest that I’ve seen it, so to finish that high was awesome,” Barraza said, alluding to the level of the level of competition at the tournament. “A lot of our guys took some early-round wins. Almost everybody got a win and to even get a win there is a tough thing to do; so it’s awesome. I have a lot of underclassmen so it definitely helps their confidence. Just being there and seeing that caliber of wrestler is good for their development.”
Both local schools had a large contingent of wrestlers makes it to the second day of the two-day tournament with many battling their way back through the wrestle-back bracket.
Helping the charge for the impressive Raiders’ performance was a pair freshmen.
After Chase Hiet lost his first match of the tournament in the 106s, he then bounced back to win his next three matches. Reed saw the same fight from 113-pounder Austin Martinez, who also fought back from a first-round loss to earn victories in three straight matches.
“I had a couple of freshman that are buying in to what I’m saying and they’re getting confidence in themselves,” Barraza said. “Chase and Austin really broke through. A lot of these matches a week ago, they wouldn’t have won those matches. For whatever reason it clicked for them. They have to keep on track, but I’m really proud of those guys. Not a lot of freshmen do what they did in that tournament.”
Reed also received single victories from Gavin Hiet (120), Cameron Jones (126), Jake Otuafi (138), Erik Stockwell (160) and Reberto Landa (170).
Spanish Springs was led in its effort by 138-pounder Rito Hernandez and 195-pounder Brik Chesley.
Following a loss in his first match, Hernandez then fought back to win his next three matches. Chesley won his first match before losing his second, going to the wrestle-back bracket to take three more victories for a total of four in the tournament.
Chase Hauder also earned multiple victories, winning two matches in the 285-pound weight class. Other Cougars to record a win at the RTOC were: Wade Wrenn (106), Ryan Long (113), Tyler Poalillo (120), Mason Cunningham (132), Zach Perez (145), Blake Nauman (152), Justin Schaffer (160) and Tyler Beaulac (182).