Right now we are sitting in the airport in Reno waiting to fly home from our 20th annual Reno Tournament. The boys, Mr Powell, and Ray are boarding right now, while I am taking a later flight on a different airline. Coach Mac & Montes took an earlier flight and Mr. Snyder flew into Nebraska to spend Christmas with his son Bryan. The Corallos rented a car and drove to Arizona State for Casin to visit and will meet us home tomorrow.
Our first day of the tournament on Friday had some very high moments and other moments that showed us we have a lot of room for improvement. Some high moments included bonus point victories by our young guys and Hayden Keleher knocking off a nationally ranked top seed. Nunez, Stahlecker, Betts, Werkheiser, Walker, Catalano, and DiRenzo got some great experience out here and contributed various bonus point wins. In addition, Casin and Diego Santiago strung together a nice series of early wins before falling into the consolation rounds. Casin would go on and qualify for the second day as well.
Some of the things that proved we have a way to go at the team were a whole string of losses in winnable matches on the first day. Great teams find ways to win those matches and as a group we need to improve in that area moving forward. The boys did have a great attitude about the whole experience and seem excited to take a big leap forward. The Temecula Valley coaches run a huge open workout for the kids who are knocked out after weigh ins on the second day of the tournament. Our boys who took advantage of that got a great workout and lots of fresh meat to go live with and we really appreciated Temecula running that workout. They run a great program and we think very highly of them as a staff.
Our second day only saw us advance 3 guys to the medal round, but the performances of our junior captains Jacob Montes, Jimmy Saylor, and Evan Fidelibus were outstanding. To say that they wrestled great would be an understatement. As coaches we could not be more pleased with all we saw of them from a leadership and performance standpoint. Jacob was second, Evan was third, and Jimmy was fourth.
Jacob knocked off the top seed who Willie Saylor and Flo have ranked #6 inn the county. The kid was committed to wrestle at Oklahoma State next year and Jacob, who was unseeded, beat him 7-3 in the quarters. He looked great in the semis before running into a buzz saw in the finals. Jacob wrestled in some tough physical brawls on his way to second place. Jacob looks primed to really break out this season and is becoming an elite wrestler.
Evan wrestled very well the entire tournament. He strung together a series of pins and looked poised and under control the whole time. He lost in the quarters to a kid committed to Northern Colorado next year. He advanced to the Consey finals where he would wrestle a top ten kid who was the returning three time Reno TOC champ. Evan absolutely dominated the kid and left little doubt that he has taken the next step in his development.
Jimmy looked very good early before getting caught in a weird situation and getting pinned on day one. He was winning at the time of the fall. It turns out the kid was a double finalist at Fargo this year. Jimmy’s first wrestle back was moved to first thing Saturday because his opponent had five matches in a day Friday.
On Saturday he wrestled the best we have ever seen him wrestle. He was technically sound, poised, and in control for the duration of each match. The way he controlled his opponents on the way to the third place match was a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, due to Jimmy’s last match on Friday being moved to Saturday, he had competed in five matches prior to the third place match. According to National Federation rules, Jimmy was required to forfeit because he competed five times in one day prior to the final round. This was an unfortunate misapplication of the intent of the rule. Go figure, his opponent was the kid who beat him. Jimmy was primed to avenge that loss, and it’s unfortunate he did not get that opportunity. Despite this, it does not take away from the outstanding performance Jimmy had this weekend.
All in all, we finished eighth as a team. We certainly have some work to do to improve. This weekend was a great barometer on our strengths and weaknessas. As a staff we need to keep our guys improving every day. That’s the fun part of coaching and the great part about challenging ourselves and competing. We are already looking forward to Manheim next week. The kids always seem to figure out how to rise to the occasion.
In addition, Mr Snyder was given the heritage award for distinguished service to the sport of wrestling before the finals. They also honored our team with an award presented to our coaching staff before finals. It was also great to see Robbie Rizzolino wrestle in the College tournament yesterday. Robbie is ranked #1 in NJCA for Clackamas Junior College and will transfer to NC State next fall. Not only are we proud of our boys for what they accomplish on the mat, but it’s a joy to see them doing well after they leave us and develop into fine young men. We are very proud of Robbie.
Thanks to all the fans who came out in support of us and all the people who have made this trip happen for 20 years. The life experiences and opportunities our boys have had over the past twenty years are measured in much more than wins and losses. Thanks for everything and have a Merry Christmas.
Rovers for Life