Devin Middlebrook: The new Tahoe economy (opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Devin Middlebrook: The new Tahoe economy (opinion)

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We all know that Tahoe has a job problem, and careers are harder to come by. Our economy needs tourism, and lives or dies by the seasons. For decades gaming played a major role in the community, now more emphasis is being placed on recreation and visitor experiences. Whether it is gaming or recreation, the source of money is the same, tourism. In the past, we had no other option but to play the tourism game, but that is no longer the case, we have the chance to create a new Tahoe economy.

Unfortunately, we are already late to the game. The world is advancing around us, yet we seem to be stuck in time. We must embrace a new way of thinking and take advantage of the opportunities that exist. We have the opportunity to create a new Tahoe economy, one that works year-round, is diversified, pays well, and retains and attracts talented people.

Cottage industries, small scale manufacturing, co-working, makerspaces, and telecommuting are now a possibility at Lake Tahoe. Tahoe no longer has to be isolated in the mountains and segregated from the nearby urban centers of Reno, Sacramento and the Bay Area. The tools exist for us to compete and be a leader on a global scale. Ideas, products, services, and art created in Lake Tahoe can be sold on the global market, bringing money to the economy with no strain on local resources. It takes entrepreneurs to create new ideas, local jurisdictions to foster innovation, and community members to embrace a culture of innovation.

While our reliance on tourism will always exist, it is no longer the only option we have to support our community. Added stability to our economy brings with it new jobs, skilled talent, and diversity of industries. With a new economy, we can strengthen our investment in local talent and intellectual capital. The idea of a four-year university at Lake Tahoe Community College is becoming a reality. They are now offering a four-year business degree and more could be offered in the near future. We need to focus on growing local talent while also bringing outside talent to the area.

The community is ready for something great to happen, you can feel the buzz around town. New ideas are being talked about and innovative projects, ideas, and businesses are already happening. We need every single community member to invest in the new Tahoe economy; start a business, shop local, get creative, and just do something already.

Devin Middlebrook is the civic engagement committee chair for the Tahoe Regional Young Professionals. For comments, questions, or more information on how to get involved please email Devin and dcmiddlebrook@gmail.com or visit www.tahoetryp.org

Joanne S. Marchetta: Building on Tahoe’s momentum (opinion)

At the Lake Tahoe Summit last month, we saw the power of what we can accomplish when we work together. Progress over the last two decades was showcased when President Obama made his first-ever visit to Tahoe and said conservation and restoration efforts like ours are more important than ever as the nation works to adapt to a changing climate and create a more resilient environment.

“When we protect our lands, it helps us protect the climate for the future. So conservation is not just critical for one particular spot, one particular park, one particular lake, it’s critical for our entire ecosystem,” President Obama said. “Our healing of Lake Tahoe proves it’s within our power to pass on the incredible bounty of this country to a next generation.”

The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2000 and the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act are two pieces of federal legislation that have made monumental contributions to Lake Tahoe’s restoration. Together, they helped launch a model for regional collaboration and environmental restoration on the scale needed for Tahoe’s 500-square-mile watershed.

Congress passed the restoration act shortly after former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore attended the first-ever summit in 1997. Held over multiple days, the summit included dozens of community members, researchers, and local, state, and federal partners focused on the environmental problems then facing Lake Tahoe and how to correct them.

These two pieces of legislation authorized and appropriated several hundred million dollars in federal funding to jumpstart the Environmental Improvement Program. The unprecedented initiative united all levels of government, nonprofit groups, and the private sector in a shared mission to restore Lake Tahoe’s environment and enhance the public recreation opportunities that drive our economy and help millions of people enjoy this special place each year.

Federal funding was matched by state and local agencies and the private sector. Over the last two decades, hundreds of EIP partners have invested $2 billion into nearly 500 conservation and restoration projects, with another 120 projects ongoing.

These lake-saving EIP projects have been completed all around the Tahoe Basin and were prioritized to have the greatest benefits for our lake, forests, air quality, wildlife and communities. Projects have restored stream channels, marshes, and wildlife habitat; built parks and new bike and pedestrian routes; protected Tahoe from aquatic invasive species; upgraded hundreds of miles of roads to stop stormwater pollution from washing into the lake; opened shoreline for public access; and cleared hazardous fuels from tens of thousands of acres of forests to improve their health and reduce wildfire risk.

This work was possibly only through partnership and collaboration on a level never before seen at Lake Tahoe, and because of it, our environment is healthier than it was two decades ago.

This year’s summit again put a bright national spotlight on the work we have done to restore and conserve the jewel of the Sierra. But it also raised awareness about the challenges we continue to face at Tahoe, all of the work that is not done, and how our mission will become more difficult because of a changing climate that threatens to affect everything from the lake’s world-famous water clarity to the health of our forests and ecosystems and winter recreation on our mountains.

We must continue the progress we have achieved through the EIP, completing projects that conserve and restore the environment, improve our community, and revitalize our economy, recognizing that the health of each is intertwined. Federal support is critical in this endeavor. And our region received some highly-encouraging news just two weeks after President Obama’s visit when the U.S. Senate passed its version of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2015.

Introduced by Senators Dean Heller (R-Nevada), Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Dianne Feinstein (D-California), and Barbara Boxer (D-California), the bill would reauthorize the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act and up to $415 million in federal funding over 10 years for high-priority projects that create healthier forests and reduce wildfire risk, clean up stormwater pollution, restore the lake’s water clarity, and fight the spread of aquatic invasive species.

The Senate passed its bipartisan legislation as part of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016, a two-year, $10 billion national water infrastructure bill. Legislation to reauthorize the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act has been introduced in Congress multiple times over the last decade, but each prior bill stalled in committee. This marks the first time legislation to reauthorize the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act has cleared a chamber of Congress, showing the strong bipartisan support we see for restoring one of our greatest national treasures.

The House of Representatives is anticipated to consider its version of the Water Resources Development Act this fall. We are optimistic versions of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act introduced by Representatives Tom McClintock (R-California), Mark Amodei (R-Nevada), and John Garamendi (D-California) can be included and passed as part of that legislation.

The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act and Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act have driven some of Tahoe’s biggest achievements over the last two decades and helped make the Tahoe region a healthier place and a national model for collaboration and partnership. The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2015 is critical to continuing progress and addressing the challenges that lie ahead. The Senate’s passage of this legislation is an important milestone and we look forward to continued support in the House to keep our momentum at Tahoe growing.

Joanne S. Marchetta is executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

South Shore drug task force, SLENET, dissolved

A multi-agency drug task force on the South Shore has been dissolved due to staffing shortages and other priorities from participating parties, reported South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Brian Uhler.

The South Lake El Dorado Narcotic Enforcement Team (SLEDNET) was established in 1988, and over the years has included personnel from agencies on both sides of the state line.

In 2014, SLEDNET had resources from the California Department of Justice, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, El Dorado Sheriff’s Office, El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office, and El Dorado County Probation Department.

However, that same year the California Department of Justice decided to reassign personnel from SLEDNET “to other state priorities,” said Uhler.

“Most recently, for over a year, the only agencies providing people for SLEDNET has been the SLTPD and El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department. With the significant reduction in assigned personnel, the operational effectiveness of SLEDNET was diminished as major drug investigations require large numbers of law enforcement officers for things like surveillance, drug raids, etc.,” explained Uhler.

“Last month, the El Dorado County Sheriff made the difficult decision to no longer support SLEDNET with assigned personnel, leaving only the SLTPD as a participating agency.”

With only one agency involved, the task force had to be dissolved.

El Dorado County will continue undercover narcotics enforcement work through a county-led task force on the west slope, while the two SLTPD officers from the former task force have been reassigned to a detective unit with a partial focus on crime related to drugs.

“In the event a large-scale drug investigation is necessary in the future, the SLTPD and El Dorado Sheriff are committed to pool resources to ensure we still have the capacity to do this important work,” noted Uhler.

“Unfortunately, there is a serious problem with drugs in South Lake Tahoe. We see direct connections with drug abuse and crime.”

Uhler pointed to “significant statewide pressures to lower the priority of drug enforcement work,” like Prop. 47, which reduced many drug felonies to misdemeanors or the equivalent of a ticket.

“Just a few years ago, there were over 50 drug task forces in the state and now there are about a dozen,” continued Uhler.

“These misdemeanors are understandably given lower levels of priority within the other cogs of the criminal justice system (prosecution and courts), leaving those who choose to use drugs with little in the way of consequences until they suffer a serious medical problem or are caught for a crime with teeth,” said Uhler.

“Our citizens experience the fallout of this decriminalization every day.”

Inaugural TEDx South Lake Tahoe comes to The Loft

TED Talks are coming to Tahoe. Yep, you read that right. On Wednesday, Oct. 5, The Loft at Heavenly Village hosts nine individuals who have up to 18 minutes to present stimulating ideas on a particular subject. It’s new to the area, exciting, and scratches your brain — TEDx South Lake Tahoe.

“I’ve been a fan of TED Talks, and the inspiration that it brings to the community of which they serve. I thought it’d be a great thing for South Lake Tahoe, to bring the community together to talk about ideas that are meaningful.

“The biggest goal is to use the talks to inspire action and taking the ideas and thoughts from the talks and bringing the community together to listen and connect, and then inspiring some kind of action from those talks,” said Robin DeSota, who led the effort to bring TEDx Talks to South Shore.

The nine participants will cover topics ranging from philanthropy to why art matters to using music festivals as a model for sustainability and even why failure should be on everyone’s bucket list.

“Pat Moore will be talking about confronting your fears and embracing your fears when doing anything in life, using his own experience with snowboarding around the world — it’s sort of a metaphor for why each of us needs to confront our fear and learn about it,” DeSota said.

The participant pool is mixed — not all are local, but according to DeSota most have some connection with the Tahoe Basin. Speakers were chosen by a review board comprised of South Lake Tahoe locals.

“We wanted folks from a variety of disciplines, variety of backgrounds, variety of ideas. We wanted to pick ideas that were different and meaningful and that would have an impact,” DeSota explained.

The event is sold out, but don’t worry — you can still catch TEDx South Lake Tahoe online via the organization’s live webcast, found at www.livestream.com under the search “TEDx South Lake Tahoe.”

The stream is accessible to anyone and everyone, so watch it at home or with your friends. The Loft — venue of TEDx South Lake Tahoe — is also hosting a live webcast mixer for those wanting to be closer to the action. Meet the speakers, network with the TEDx South Lake Tahoe community and enjoy the live webcast in the lounge.

If you’re unable to make the event or catch the live stream, fear not — the team behind the event is interested in making this an annual South Shore endeavor.

“We would love to make this an annual event.

“We’re very happy and excited to be putting the event on and we hope that they’re connecting, inspiring and bringing people to action based on what they’ve heard here. We’re just really excited,” DeSota said. For now, they’re focusing on the event at hand.

TEDx events are independently organized conferences modeled after nonprofit organization TED’s Ideas Worth Spreading campaign. Their goal emerges from the TED experience — to engage leading thinkers from the area to create discussion on how to enhance the community.

Want to learn more? Visit www.tedxsouthlaketahoe.com.

Get your groove on: dance convention comes to South Shore for first time

Tap, jazz, funk and more — passionate local dancers, rejoice! For the first time, a two-day dance convention will come to Stateline, offering intermediate to advanced dancers the chance to receive instruction from local and celebrity high-caliber teachers.

Prestige Dance Experience, as it’s known, comes to MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22-23, focusing on dancer encouragement and intimate quality training for ages 6 and up.

“Because we don’t have these events [in Tahoe] I wanted to highlight the community aspect. It’s a weekend of classes with celebrity and local choreographers.

“There’s a bunch of extra little experiences that little kids would not normally be able to partake in. It’s an all-inclusive workshop weekend,” Prestige Dance Experience owner Madeline Feldman said.

Feldman, who currently resides in Zephyr Cove, grew up dancing in Lake Tahoe and experienced first-hand the lack of local conventions. She had to travel extensively in order to attend various dance workshops, and wanted to make the experience more accessible to those living in the area.

Dance is an expensive sport — in addition to studio membership, convention travel costs are coupled with workshops themselves, resulting in steep prices not all families can afford.

“I don’t know whether it’s an unsecure market or too small — but for whatever reason, we’d always travel. Each studio picks one to four conventions they travel to, mostly in the Bay Area or Los Angeles.

“Why not bring the training to us? I saw it was something the community would really benefit from, from a training standpoint,” Feldman said.

At Prestige Dance Experience, a variety of classes will be offered — contemporary, hip hop, jazz funk, tap, locking and breaking, in addition to specialty classes and more. Attendees are divided into groups based on level, rather than age.

The conference can accommodate approximately 300 people. Tentative hours are currently 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22-23. A definitive schedule will be released approximately two weeks prior to the event.

“One of the coolest parts of the experience is the scholarship we’re giving away — a year of paid tuition to the dancer’s home studio.

“There’s no scholarship like that. Most conventions give you a free pass to come back to the convention. We’ve made it about the dancer and their family and what their needs are,” Feldman said.

In order to be eligible for the scholarship, enrollment in Prestige Dance Experience is required. Details on the scholarship application process are provided upon registration to the event.

To register and receive additional information, visit www.prestigedance.rocks. Get $50 off Prestige Dance Experience registration price by entering the discount code “TRIBUNE”.

‘Snow equity’ from 2015 driving winter bookings; plus another record setting summer

After a record-setting summer in terms of occupancy and revenue, winter bookings are beginning to roll in for resort towns in the Far West region, according to DestiMetrics data.

DestiMetrics compiles and analyzes figures submitted by resorts in mountain travel destinations spanning six states, including California and Nevada.

“The Far West is going to have its fifth consecutive all-time season for occupancy and revenue this summer,” said Tom Foley, director of operations at DestiMetrics. “The summer period is May through October.”

Occupancy rates are up by 2 percent, while revenues are up by 8 percent, according to data compiled May 1 through Aug. 31 and released this September.

“That’s a result of marketing efforts,” noted Foley.

The Consumer Confidence Index shows a positive shift in the market, with an increase of 4.6 percent during August to close at 101.1 points. This is the first time it has moved over the 100-point mark since Sept. 2015.

“Recent reservation patterns in mountain destinations reflect the more confident consumer and this mood has been a major contributor to this summer’s expected record,” observed Foley.

Destinations in the Far West, including Lake Tahoe, are also beginning to see growth in revenue and occupancy in September and October, formerly categorized as low shoulder season months, said Foley.

Though it is still early, booking for the 2016-17 winter season are beginning to roll in across the U.S.

As of Aug. 31, the aggregated data from participating destinations revealed that compared to this time last year, bookings through Feb. 2017 are up 10.9 percent.

“There are occupancy gains on the books taking place across the industry,” said Foley. “But the Rockies, Far West, and the industry as a whole is actually struggling somewhat on rates for the peak months. Their revenue isn’t as high as they’d like it to be.”

The average daily rate for November through February is essentially unchanged from last winter, according to DestiMetrics data, but double-digit gains in occupancy are reported for all four months.

Moreover, roughly 28 percent of all room nights booked for last season have already been booked for the upcoming winter season.

Foley noted that after several years of poor snow, last year’s good snow in the Lake Tahoe Basin is translating into more winter bookings.

“El Niño did some good and created what we call ‘snow equity.’ It’s when you had a good snow year and it carries forward — people remember that. Tahoe and areas are reaping the gains of positive snow equity in occupancy,” said Foley.

Though room rates are down, revenues are up due to higher occupancy, he added.

But there are two factors that could squash these positive predictions for winter.

“Winter has a massive wildcard and that is snow. If no snow comes, the skiers don’t come and they forget the positive snow equity. The drought isn’t over and there are some concerns about what will happen with the La Niña this season,” said Foley.

“The next wildcard is the presidential election, and that does impact consumers. This one is unique. and we don’t know how it will impact consumers.”

In support of Nancy Dalton for LTCC Board seat

When Nancy Dalton informed me she was running for the Lake Tahoe Community College Board seat from Trustee Area 4, I was extremely pleased. Since there is no incumbent in that area, it is important to have someone who understands both education and out community; Nancy fills these requirements extremely well. She has been involved in education at many different levels, most recently being the chair of the math department at South Tahoe High School last year.

She has been involved, with her family, in our community for many years including in the construction business with her husband John. I first met Nancy when we were both members of the Soroptimist International of South Lake Tahoe over 30 years ago. Since then Nancy has organized and participated in many community activities and events. She dedicates herself to any endeavor she undertakes. She has already been attending LTCC board meetings for 8 months so she can be prepared to hit the ground running since the college has many projects and new programs in the works.

I whole-heartedly endorse Nancy Dalton for LTCC Trustee Area 4 and urge those residing in Area 4 to vote for her on November 8th.

Roberta Mason

South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Tahoe Icemen look for fresh start, turnaround in 2016-17 season

The Tahoe Icemen junior hockey program enters the 2016-17 season under new leadership and with a new approach. In the franchise’s fourth season in South Lake Tahoe, it is starting fresh with the aim to build a successful program.

“I want to change the mindset and the culture,” said Mickey Lang, the Icemen’s new head coach and general manager. “We brought in a bunch of young, hungry guys that want to get better at hockey — it’s a whole different group in here.”

The Icemen’s new head coach grew up in nearby Reno, Nevada, and played hockey collegiately at Manhattanville College from 2007-11 before four seasons in the CHL, ECHL and AHL. The 30-year-old Lang was the ECHL’s Most Valuable Player for the 2013-14 season while with the Orlando Solar Bears, and last played in 2015.

“I just got done playing so I know what each player is going through as far as certain situations they’re going to face and deal with throughout the year,” Lang said. “I can relate to all of them — from the guy on the fourth line to the guy on the first line.”

Lang moved back to Reno after his last season with Orlando, and wanted to stay around the game of hockey. When the Icemen job opened up in the spring, he quickly jumped at the opportunity — his coaching staff includes Ryan Shmyr and Rich Garcia.

“It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been fun work bringing guys in,” Land said. “I look forward to the challenge of being part of a team again and being in a different role.”

The Icemen franchise was founded in 2012 and spent a season in San Francisco as the Bay Area Seals before relocating to Tahoe. Lang is the program’s fourth coach in four seasons, and will look to turn around a club that won seven games in 2014-15 and finished 2-50 a year ago.

“We talked about it on the first day and we won’t talk about it again for the rest of the year,” Lang said of last season. “We’re all looking for a fresh start.”

In addition to success on the ice, Lang aims to build a program connected to the hockey culture in Tahoe. To that effect, the Icemen’s 2016-17 roster features South Shore products Jackson Oleson and John Moffat along with Northern Nevada natives Reed Lequerica (Reno) and Colby Boucher (Sparks).

“My No. 1 goal is to build Tahoe hockey, build Reno hockey and have players coming out of here consistently playing college hockey and professional hockey,” Lang said. “I think we’re headed in the right direction and that’s a process I’m looking forward to. I’m excited to have the local guys here.”

On the ice, a group of three seasoned players will lead the Icemen this season — forwards Colton Langowski and Matt Psaras along with defenseman Austin Naylor. All three have experience in the Western States Hockey League, with Langowski and Naylor each playing for the Icemen last season.

“They’re going to be playing big roles for us — they’re leaders and they’re older guys,” Lang said. “We’re going to rely on them a lot to steer our younger group and we’ll utilize them in every situation during games.”

Lang wants the Icemen to play a relentless style characterized by speed and effort this season. During training camp and preseason, the focus has been on intensity and effort as much as strategy.

“We want to be relentless in everything we do — pursuing pucks, in the offensive zone, in the defensive zone — just a relentless team that never plays the score and plays the same every game.”

Tahoe opened its season Friday, Sept. 30, at South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena against the two-time defending Thorne Cup champion Idaho Jr. Steelheads. The three-game series continues Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and is the first of four straight home series to open the season.

“We’re so pumped and we’re all excited,” Lang said. “Everybody is ready to play games and we’re ready to get the season going.”

The Western States Hockey League is in its second year as a United Hockey Union Tier II junior league, and features players between the ages of 18 and 21. The Icemen play in the Northwest Division along with Idaho, the Bellingham Blaze, Butte Cobras, Seattle Totems, Southern Oregon Spartans, Vancouver Rangers and Whitefish Wolverines.

South Tahoe tennis caps regular season, boys finish undefeated

The South Tahoe tennis teams wrapped up regular season play against Fallon on Thursday, Sept. 29. The Vikings’ boys team completed an undefeated campaign with a 14-4 win over the Greenwave, finishing unbeaten in 10 3A Northern League matches.

South Tahoe’s boys team (10-0 3A Northern) led 4-2 after the first round Thursday, and took all six second-round sets to win the road match. After beating Truckee 10-8 in their season opener Aug. 30, the Vikings won their remaining nine matches by at least eight points.

The Vikings won seven sets on both the singles and doubles sides against Fallon. No. 1 singles Jonathan LaRue split the first two rounds 6-7 (1), 6-1, No. 2 singles Matthew Barnett delivered wins of 6-0 and 6-1, and No. 3 singles Sam Satin went 6-0, 6-1, 1-6.

In doubles, South Tahoe No. 1 Louis Marin and Mickey Sullivan won 6-1, 6-0 in the first two rounds before being subbed out. Vikings No. 2 Quinn Proctor and Peter Sullivan played tiebreakers in the first two rounds with scores of 6-7 (4) and 7-6 (6) while the No. 3 team of Bryin Schouten and Jackson Kuzmik swept its sets 6-1, 7-6 (6), 7-5.

The Vikings girls team (6-4 3A Northern) lost 10-8 to the Greenwave at STHS Tennis Complex on Thursday. South Tahoe took only one set in the first round and couldn’t fully recover, ultimately falling one set short of forcing a tiebreaker.

South Tahoe took six singles sets against the Greenwave, led by a 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 sweep from No. 2 Allyson Cromwell. No. 1 Lyndsey Allen took two sets with scores of 2-6, 6-3 and 6-0 while No. 3 Theresa Sandborn scored a 6-1 win in the last round.

On the doubles side, only the Vikings’ No. 1 team of Abby Burns and Gabbi Fisher delivered points Thursday. After falling 2-6 in the first round, the all-junior team bounced back with wins of 6-3 and 6-0.

Both teams begin postseason play in the 3A Northern Region semifinals Thursday, Oct. 6. The Northern Region championships are scheduled for Friday, Oct. 7, at Reno Tennis Center’s Plumas Courts.

Belt brothers: Escobar Training Grounds fighters Church, Cocores win title fights at WFC 60

STATELINE — At World Fighting Championships 60, two local fighters brought home championship belts in front of a hometown crowd. Cameron Church and Chris Cocores won title fights in the event held at MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa on Saturday, Sept. 24, as part of a strong showing from Escobar Training Grounds.

“It’s very special. This is where I grew up and where I came from,” said Cocores, who won the 145-pound WFC Mixed Martial Arts title fight. “It gave me a different motivation, and there was a different fire inside of me to fight in front of the home squad.”

Cocores delivered Escobar Training Grounds’ first hardware of the night by winning the 145-pound MMA title fight. Cocores forced his opponent Calob Ramirez to tap out with a rear naked choke 2:41 into the second round.

“It’s just the start for me,” the 25-year-old Cocores said. “I’ve been doing this for six years now, and I feel like I’m just getting started.”

Born and raised in South Lake Tahoe, Cocores felt the love from the sold out crowd at MontBleu. In the ring, the local’s versatile fighting led to him outwrestling Ramirez on the ground to end the fight.

“It was comforting more than anything,” Cocores said of fighting on the South Shore. “Sometimes you feel like you’re going to get overwhelmed when you walk out there — then you feel everybody’s love and the pressure isn’t there as much.”

Church won the 170-pound WFC Muay Thai title in the night’s main event, beating Brennan Mishler by technical knock out 1:08 into the third round. In his third career fight, Church beat the coach of his first two opponents by ultimately punching him into defeat.

“All my hard work paid off,” Church said. “Training every day for four hours a day and busting my ass made it all worth it.

“I had all my family and friends from Tracy right up in the front row, and I could hear them more than I could hear my own corner. They were practically in the ring with me.”

Joshua Meno was the local studio’s third winner Saturday. The Lake Tahoe Community College Student won a 170-pound MMA fight against Jonathan Carroll with a rear naked choke tapout 2:32 into the first period.

Erik Searcy (140-pound MMA) and Cris Montenegro (125-pound MMA) each came up short in their fights Saturday night. Searcy fell by technical knock out due to strikes while Montenegro lost a three-round split decision.

“I gave it everything I had,” Searcy said. “I almost had him toward the end of the first round, and really put everything I could into finishing him — but he was a tough guy and gutted it out.”

Saturday’s 17-fight card drew a capacity crowd inside the MontBleu Theater. WFC 60 featured MMA, Muay Thai and Brazilan jiu-jistu fights, and also handed out a Muay Thai 147-pound title belt to Gabriel Ramirez from Vacaville, California.

The five local fighters trained in a nine-week fight camp leading up to WFC 60 at Escobar Training Grounds, which can now lay claim to four champions. When they weren’t fighting Saturday night, the ETG products were throwing support each other’s way.

“We came in there with a bang and left with a bang,” Cocores said. “I’ve never fought somewhere and felt so surrounded by brothers — it’s dope.”

For official results from WFC 60, visit www.worldfightingchampionships.com. Escobar Training Grounds is online at www.etgtahoe.com.