“Goal number two,” Spanish Springs coach Joe Imelli said. “I feel relieved. A lot of pressure goes into this, a lot of coaches doing hard work and a lot of kids doing hard work.”
Spanish Springs and Carson were tied heading into the championship round Saturday at Reno High School, but the Cougars finished with the 187-178 win.
The two teams were tied at 173 as the championship round started. Spanish Springs grabbed a lead as Cougars’ 103-pounder Curtis Lampert won the weight class with a 6-1 decision over Carson’s Pat Craugh.
In the 119s championship, Spanish Springs senior Todd Pearson took a 10-6 decision over Fallon’s Colin Merkley.
“Todd became the first three-time regional champion at Spanish Springs,” Imelli said. “It was a tough match. The kid he wrestled put in a lot of summer work and he’s a quality wrestler. Todd had the one goal that he wants to finish off with that state championship. The 119 pounders make it a killer weight class. He’s a senior leader and now I’d just like to see him finish up on his terms and stand on that highest podium, which he’s definitely capable of doing.”
SSHS senior Jes Sylvester had the opportunity to score as many as six points at 140 pounds which would have given the Cougars a bit more breathing room. However, Sylvester was penalized for an illegal hold against Reno’s Loran Pace. Pace used his two minutes of recovery but was unable to continue the duel. Pace was then given the victory due to Sylvester’s illegal move, automatically putting Sylvester in second place without the opportunity to continue a fight for first.
“My heart goes out to the kid,” Imelli said. “He’s by far our hardest working kid. He beat that Reno kid in the duel, 5-1. And wrestled outstanding … He’s a senior and I can’t tell him wait until next year.”
The disqualification left Spanish Springs with just a two-point lead in the team score with one wrestler left while Carson still had three waiting for their turns on the championship mat.
Reed’s Reece Dassinger battled it out in the 152s. Fallon’s Zarek Sanchez and Dassinger were tied at five points each after two rounds but Sanchez got the best of Dassinger for a 9-8 win.
During the 171-pound weight class final, it was announced that Spanish Springs had lost three team points because of an outburst from one of the coaches. The 171 match pitted Carson’s Junior Valladares against Manogue’s Gary Albright. The three point loss by the Cougars gave Carson a one point lead and the chance to pick up at least four more if Valladares won.
However in the second round, the ruling against Spanish Springs was reversed and the Cougars regained their two-point lead. Albright overtook Valladares in an 8-4 decision.
“I had butterflies today, butterflies all the way through until the 189-pound match ended and then I felt some relief,” Imelli said.
That wrestler was Billy Dean, who matched up with Reed’s Trevor Burns. Dean took Burns to the mat in the heavyweight division and pinned him with 26 seconds left in the second round.
“Anytime we go against Spanish Springs you know it’s going to be a tough match,” Reed coach Dan Barazza said. “You want to be on the other side normally but they’ve got a great team. They’re the role model school. They’ve got depth and talent, everything. You look to them and that’s what you want to be like.”
The Cougars ended up with six state qualifiers and eight regional placers. The SSHS club finished with three first place wrestlers, one second place, two third places and two fourth places.
Dakota Lee came in fourth in the 112-pound weight class.
“To come back and take fourth place like that is an awesome job by him,” Imelli said. “He’ll practice with us this next week and we’ll take alternates with us in case something happens.”
In the 125s, Austin Yohey also captured fourth for the Cougars. He lost in the winners bracket to the eventual second-place finisher Dillon Spates from Douglas.
In the 171s, Clay Coleman captured the Cougars lone third place effort.
The third student-athlete to get a place in state for the Reed Raiders was Broc Westlake. Westlake lost his first match and landed himself in the consolation bracket. He beat Spanish Springs Nicholas Audenreid and kept rolling into second place with a 4-3 decision over Douglas’ Zach Falanga.
“Broc had to overcome a little adversity,” Barazza said. “He dropped his first match and had to do it the hard way and won four matches to go to state.”
The first, second and third place winners head to state next weekend in Las Vegas to competed for state wrestling titles.