Couch tourney field fits South Tahoe’s level of competition
What’s compelling about observers of the 20th annual Randy Couch Invitational wrestling tournament at South Tahoe is not necessarily what’s compelling for high school wrestling.
A few things draw attention: Two of South Tahoe’s best grapplers are twins Brad and Cavin Ross, who wrestle just two weight classes apart. On Saturday, they’ll enter a wrestling tournament honoring the memory of a South Tahoe wrestler, Randy Couch, who died in a car accident in 1980. But the main reason the athletes are eager about the tournament is much simpler.
It’s the wrestling.
“I’m just ready to wrestle,” said Cavin Ross, a junior who has distinguished himself as South Tahoe’s most successful wrestlers this year competing in the 118-pound weight class. “Whoever comes my way, that’s fine.”
Saturday’s tournament – which brings South Tahoe together with Beyer High of Modesto, Calif., North Tahoe, China Spring and Carson’s B team – has changed significantly from the other Couch memorial tournaments. The field includes fewer schools than tournaments past – five this year, down from 10 last season – but South Tahoe head coach Tom Barnes feels the changes reflect South Tahoe’s rebuilding program.
“Both things, for our program – a dual format and a JV or B-team type of level of experience – would be more conducive for our wrestlers having more mat time, or more of an opportunity to show their skills,” Barnes said.
The smaller field eased the tournament into a new format, where all five schools compete in dual meets against each other. After skipping the 9 a.m. first round, South Tahoe begins with Beyer at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, then meets Jacobson, North Tahoe and Carson in sequence. Matches will run at the same time on two mats in South Tahoe’s gold gymnasium, and each dual will last about an hour and a half.
“I’m sure there are some of them I haven’t seen who are really good,” Cavin Ross said of his opponents this weekend.
While the field is smaller – Sparks rescheduled its home tournament for the same weekend as the Couch tournament – Barnes feels it is more appropriate for his program at this point in its evolution. More athletes have come out to wrestle for the Vikings, and the school now can fill more weight classes than years previous, but the squad still lacks a wealth of experienced wrestlers. South Tahoe is 0-7, but Barnes hopes the format translates to more mat time for his learning wrestlers than the traditional double-elimination tournament.
“I feel that I would be derelict in my responsibility to put young athletes in situations where they would be over their heads in terms of the challenge or the experience,” Barnes said. “I’m happy at this point that we’re heading in the right direction.”
Barnes tabbed Beyer as the favorite in the field, and expects China Spring to bring some strong wrestlers. The team with the best duals record on the day wins the team title, and the wrestlers with the best records in their weight classes win medals. Judges also will name one competitor the tournament’s outstanding wrestler.
South Tahoe’s home wrestling tournament started in 1975 as the South Tahoe invitational, which started out as an eight-team tournament that expanded to 16 in 1978. Randy Couch competed in two California state wrestling championships when South Tahoe was a member of the Golden Empire league, and was a South Tahoe Invitational champion in 1979 and 1980, as was his twin brother, Ron. In 1981, the first season after Randy Couch’s death, the tournament changed its name to honor the wrestler and has continued as the Randy Couch Invitational since.
South Tahoe wrestling rosters, 20th annual Randy Couch Invitational
103 pounds: Danny Lucero
112: Kevin Maslow
118: Cavin Ross
125: Derek Naccarato
130: Brad Ross
135: Brian Burns
140: Rook Naccarato
145: Donnie Hopkins
152: Ghombu Sherpa
160: Ryan Davis
171: Chris Herzog
189: Tyler Corey
215: Nick Alexander
135 pounds: Matt Fry
140 pounds: Kyle Smith
171 pounds: Sedu Samura
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