Spanish Springs High School
The defending league and regional champions lost three players last season but coach Joe Imelli is looking forward to what this season will have to offer with an experienced varsity squad.
"We're expecting a pretty quality team," Imelli said. "We lost three seniors off of last year's squad. One of them was a regional champion. Obviously we miss that. We miss that leadership part. But we bring back probably our deepest squad ever. This will be the same group that I was with down at Shaw and the four years up here. That's a six-year total run with these kids."
Imelli boasts that this team, with its experience, should have a high work ethic at honing their wrestling finesse. Chris Lampert, state champion, returns for the Cougars this year as well as several state qualifiers from last year's squad.
"We really have some talent up and down the board," Imellli said.
The project Cougars lineup has seven or eight seniors on it. With the numbers Spanish Springs has, it will be able to field two varsity teams to attend various tournaments throughout the season.
Imelli said there are some very high expectations this season for his squad.
Spanish Springs' toughest competition will probably be Reno, Imelli said. Not to mention Reed and McQueen as well as Damonte Ranch, Carson and Bishop Manogue on the other side of the 4A.
Imelli has loaded the team's schedule with some tough competition in out of town duals where they will get some exposure from teams other than Northern Nevada squads.
They will go to the Vacaville duals in California, and Vacaville is ranked in the state of California, Imelli said. They will have a few other California dual meets later in the season as well. The Vacaville Duals starts today, and McQueen High School is also attending.
"It's kind of our hope to get out and see other people and try to make ourselves better," Imelli said.
Spanish Springs has a lot of wrestling in the next week with a dual this weekend, North Valleys on Wednesday and another meet a week from Saturday.
"Last year we took a step up to win a regional, this year I hope we take another step to make a name for us," Imelli said.
Sparks' numbers dwindled last season with only eight wrestlers finishing the 2008-2009 campaign but coach Doug Walsh has hopes for this year's squad.
Walsh has 14 wrestlers on his roster, only one of which is a senior. Of the eight who finished last year, five were seniors he said.
Walsh is encouraged by the fact that there are some freshman coming through the program. He said that he is lucky to get one or two a year to come out and stick with it.
Of the returners, Sparks has junior John Stralla who was a state runner-up in the 119 weight class. He will be in the 125 class this year. Sparks' three other returners are senior Anthony Arroyo, junior Brett Ezzell and sophomore Ramon Covorubias.
"Everyone else is brand new," Walsh said.
While the turnout hurts Sparks in the fact that the squad will not fill all weight classes, Walsh understand the team will not win many duals this season.
"My individuals will do OK," he said. "I expect them to do fairly well this year. We're young, we're building but we'll contend individually."
With the drop off from last year, Walsh things that the team has will stay for the long haul.
"I think they 14 that I have now are going to stay through the season," he said. "They're my dedicated 14."
Even with the shortage of numbers, it provides the new wrestlers a chance to get some individual attention and work. All of the Railroaders will get some time for live wrestling, where as with other teams the squads are so bit, that may not happen.
"It's a small room basically, they get a lot of individual attention and a lot of contact time too," Walsh said. "If you're the number four or five kid in the weight class, you might spend the whole time practicing."
Sparks will kick off the season at Yerington this weekend and will only take eight of his wrestlers.
"We'll get a good judge of where our young kids are at this point in time," Walsh said.
Sparks' goal in this rebuilding year is to see some improvement in the younger members of the team.
"Our emphasis is to try to compete," Walsh said. "As always we'd like to qualify as many kids as we can for state tournament. I want to see our young kid gets better and I think we will. We've got some talent, they're just young."
This year Dan Barraza, a former Reed standout wrestler, will take over as head coach for the Raiders as Ric Fehr said he will be taking the year off.
Reed will attend the Chester Invitational in Chester, Calif. today and Saturday.