Empey almost suffered his first loss since his freshman season in the championship of the last year’s 220-pound weight class.
With under 10 seconds left in his 220-pound championship match at the SNC, Empey scored the go-ahead points and held on for dear life as Mick Dougharity of Sam Barlow tried to get away. The 4-3 victory improved Empey’s record to 23-0 and made him a two-time champion at the prestigious event. Since then, Empey has won over 100 matches in a row to break the Nevada state record.
The Reno Livestock Events Center will play host to the Sierra Nevada Classic. Action starts at 9:30 a.m. Thursday and Friday morning. General admission is $10, while students and seniors get in for $5. Championship finals begin at 4 p.m. Friday.
Also attempting to defend their titles are Reno’s Joey Lavallee (145 pounds), Damonte’s Drew Smith (152 pounds) and Henley’s Ronnie Bresser (113 pounds).
Last year, Empey pinned his first three opponents, and then claimed an 8-3 decision in the quarterfinals before getting back to his pinning ways. A second-round pin in the semifinals set up the showdown with Dougharity.
Empey had to play catch-up in the championship match though.
The two wrestlers spent the first round feeling each other out, and the score remained in a scoreless tie after the first two minutes.
Empey started the second round on top, but Dougharity got a reversal to put Empey in a 2-0 hole heading into the final round.
To start the third, Empey was on the bottom and put Dougharity in an awkward position sitting on his butt. Empey pushed him over, earning a match-tying reversal with 47 seconds left on the clock.
However, Dougharity escaped with 21 seconds remaining to take a 3-2 advantage.
Empey had to make something happen as the two grapplers stood head-to-head with time on Dougharity’s side. Empey found a way to score two points, but only had Dougharity by one foot as Dougharity attempted to hop free of Empey’s grasp as the clock expired.
Spanish Springs and Sparks are also signed up to compete with over 80 schools.