January 14th, 2015
This is the way-overdue-review of the 20th Anniversary of the Reno Tournament of Champions. It was a tournament that saw two familiar team champions in Poway High School (CA) and the Cowboys of Wyoming; a legend at the mic call his last match; honored the tournament’s pioneers, those who helped start the tournament; and saw a tie for second place in the college tournament.
The Poway Titans finished with a pair of champions in Colt Doyle at 170 pounds and Liam Sorahan at 220 pounds en route to finishing with 209 team points. Mountain View (AZ) finished with 168 team points to finish second, one point ahead of Crook County (OR). Yukon (OK) and Maple Mountain (UT) rounded out the top five with 151.5 and 149 team points, respectively.
Ian Timmins of Wooster (NV) won the tournament title at 113 pounds with a 5-2 decision over Braiden Parker of Wasatch (UT). Timmins was also named Outstanding Wrestler for the high school tournament.
Mark Branch’s Wyoming Cowboys finished with 134 team points and a pair of champions in Tyler Cox (125 pounds) and at 197-pounder Shane Woods. Pac-12 rivals Stanford and Oregon State finished tied for second with 102.5 team points while Oklahoma State and Ohio rounded out the top five with 97 and 83 team points, respectively.
Oklahoma State’s Nolan Boyd captured the tournament title after defeating Oregon State’s Taylor Meeks, 9-3. Boyd was also named Outstanding Wrestler for the college division after collecting a pair of falls along with his three decisions.
At 285, the finals bout pitted the University of Oklahoma’s Ross Larson and Zach Merrill. Larson captured his fifth-straight bonus point win by pinning his teammate in 2:26. For the tournament he collected four falls and a major.
As we wrote prior to the tournament, this was the very last wrestling tournament Don Blasingame called in his Hall of Fame career. As one of the pioneer honorees, Blasingame’s last match he called in the high school tournament pitted Yukon’s third-seeded Tyler Stilwell and Crook County’s fourth-seeded Trevor Rasmussen. The two heavyweights battled into the third period when Stilwell notched a takedown to secure the tournament title, 7-5.
Stilwell is from Yukon, Okla. Blasingame is from Oklahoma.
To give you an idea how well respected Blasingame is, Rasumussen’s mom came up to him afterwards and told him how much she appreciated the integrity and the way he called that last match. That’s who he is. He’s not just going to sit there and let the action play out. He is going to provide an entertainment piece to the match. He truly is one in a million.
The next day, he called the finals matches for the college/open tournament. Before that day began, I had a gut feeling that at least one guy from Oklahoma would wrestle in the finals. So I asked him if he could at least call that match because I thought it would be really neat if his career in wrestling started in Oklahoma and finished by calling a match with a guy that wrestles for Oklahoma.
My wish came true and Larson and Merrill wrestled in the finals. As mentioned earlier, both wrestle for Mark Cody at the University of Oklahoma.
Don’s last match he called for both high school and college saw two guys that are either from Oklahoma or wrestle for Oklahoma. To me, that’s pretty cool.
Before the finals started for the high school tournament, we awarded the Heritage Award (which went to Coach Snyder from Easton HS) as well as honored all the pioneers of the tournament, saving the Big Don Blasigame for last.
When Blasingame’s cohert, Lori May, was reading his bio as an honoree she would have to pause to fight back the tears as she, too, has been announcing wrestling tournaments with Don for the better part of 20 years.
When Don walked out, he, too, was fighting back tears and the entire arena stood in appreciation. It truly was a sight to see and something I will never forget.
Thank you, Don
Before the high school finals began, Stanford’s Isaiah Locsin went up to Don and told him one thing … thank you. You see, Isaiah wrestled in the tournament all through high school and now he is a freshman for the Cardinal. He remembers all the matches and tournaments Don has called and appreciated him very much. Locsin wanted him to know that he truly appreciated Don for everything he has done for the sport and to say a simple, ‘thank you and we will miss you.’
Locsin went on to wrestle in the finals of the college tournament at 141 and Don was there to call the match.
So as we move on to the next year, we say ‘thank you’ to Don and the rest of the pioneers who saw the vision of Ross Aguiar and Jack Dolan to create something special for the sport of wrestling.
December 23rd, 2014