Vikings set to grapple for regional titles
RENO, Nev. — The South Tahoe wrestling team continued their strong season last weekend, earning a berth into the first girls’ state tournament while the boys’ wracked up dozens of individual wins last weekend at Spring Creek.
The Lady Vikings got things going Saturday at McQueen High School, competing in the first Northern Nevada Girls Qualifier in Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association history.
Freshman Diem Johnson took a pair of wins by fall in the 152-pound division and then won her fifth-place match via a 6-4 decision. Freshman Alice Lilly also took fifth place, posting a win by fall in the 126-pound quarterfinals and another win by fall in the fifth-place match. Freshman Lillia Verduzco was knocked into the consolation bracket after her first match in the 120-pound division, but went on to pick up a pair of wins by decision. She’d later take a win by fall in the second round of the fifth-place match. With the trio of fifth-place finishes, South Tahoe will send three wrestlers to state as alternates.
Freshman Anete “Maili” Chavarin finished in fourth-place finish to earn a berth into next weekend’s state tournament. Last weekend marked her second time competing in a tournament.
“Her gift of physical strength and natural athleticism is boosted by an inextinguishable positive attitude and determination,” said Coach Ryan Wallace. “She always shoots at minimum 15 extra shots after the conclusion of practice, a decision she made on her own. We all could not love her more.”
Freshman Mia Martinez also represented South Tahoe at last weekend’s meet.
“We watched Reed win the first Northern Girls Team title, they did it with a roster full of dedicated upper-classmen, this group of 9th graders has the goal to build that type of program, it is easy to envision them pulling that off,” said Wallace.
While the girls’ team competed in Reno, the boys’ squad was in Spring Creek facing off against 11 other Class 3A Northern League teams during two days of competition.
The Vikings closed out the meet with four wrestlers finishing the weekend with 9-2 records, propelling South Tahoe to four team wins in duals.
Senior Patrick Webster led South Tahoe with a 9-2 record in the 144-pound division, including six wins by fall. At 150 pounds, senior Garret Friederici also finished with a 9-2 record and was able to pin six of his opponents. Sophomore Charlie Bergquist went 9-2 in the 106-pound weight class and had four wins by fall.
“The only ingredient missing for Charlie was self-belief, it appears he’s found that, I know I wouldn’t want to be one of those little 106 pounders matched up with him,” said Wallace.
At 138 pounds, sophomore Kash Hendrick went 9-2 and pinned four of his opponents. Hendrick leads the team win 35 wins.
“He wants a state title, well so does everybody, the difference is he’s earning it by making champion choices at a frequency uncommon of someone his age,” said Wallace on Hendrick.
Senior Andrew Singelyn went 7-4 in the 165-pound division and pinned a pair of opponents. Senior Jacob DeLeon pinned two opponents in the 113-pound division on the way to a 6-4 record. Junior Chris Mossonte won three of his matches in the 113-pound weight class by fall, and junior Zach Briggs picked up a pair of wins by decision in the 120-pound division. Senior Jeffery Chavarria is among the team leaders at 138 pounds and closed the year with a winning record.
“Collectively we have a crazy dream of building a highly successful wrestling program in a ‘ski town.’ “About 5 or 6 years ago, when this group of seniors were in 7th and 8th grade that vision began to clarify,” said Wallace.
“We believe in the concept of horizontal leadership, the ask is that every athlete takes responsibility for their own actions and displays high character traits in every situation that calls for it. Much of our success can be attributed to the fact that these athletes meet that expectation daily. It frees the coaches up to coach, eliminating wasted time micromanaging or policing.”
Three South Tahoe freshman have earned berths into this weekend’s regional championships. Brady Higgins (126), Jayden Cenidoza (144), and Luis Salas (190) have all wrestled a varsity schedule this season after proving themselves with decorated careers at the middle school level.
“Our Rookies, have talent and grit, combine that with a healthy dose of naivety regarding who should or should not make it, and you’ve got a recipe for a bracket buster,” added Wallace on the group of underclassmen.
The South Tahoe boys’ team will head to Wooster High School in Reno on Friday and Saturday for the Class 3A Northern Region Meet. The state championships will take place the following weekend in Winnemucca.
Looking to qualify for a second state tournament will be Briggs, Hendrick, Friederici, Singelyn, Webster, and junior Cristian Arce.
“Our recruiting pitch this year was come be a part of the best team in school history, so far it has lived up to that hype, we are set to populate the world with some pretty exceptional young people,” concluded Wallace.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of the Tribune.
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