By: Alex Steen
Pomona, Colorado, took home the team title Saturday night at the 2016 Reno Tournament of Champions (RTOC) behind six placers including 132-pound champion Theorius Robison. #23 Choctaw (OK) finished in second place with #38 Roseburg (OR), #16 Allen (TX), and #32 Wasatch (UT) rounding out the top five. Jet Taylor (126), Robison (132), and Colton Schultz (220) successfully defended their titles from 2015, taking home another RTOC crown.
The story of the tournament may have been Fabian Santillan (Grandview), who came in unseeded, but stunned third-seed Colton Yapoujian (Pomona) with a spectacular last second takedown in the round of 16 on Friday night. He was just getting started. Santillan trailed Brady Poulson (Delta) 1-0 in the third period of their semi-final bout before the Grandview sophomore found a reversal and near fall with under 20 seconds to reach the finals. That should have been the end of the road for Santillan as he met the 12th ranked wrestler in the nation, Ian Timmins (Wooster), who had looked outstanding throughout the tournament. Timmins took an early 4-0 lead, but Santillan stepped over the senior in a neutral scramble, nearly earning a fall, and ending the first period with a 6-4 lead. That would be the theme of the match as twice more Santillan would out-scramble Timmins and score back points. In the end, the scoreboard read 15-7 as Fabian Santillan won the title at 120 pounds. He was named Outstanding Wrestler for his incredible tournament.
Robison survived a 1-0 scare in the round of 16 only to put on a show on Saturday, winning by forfeit in the quarters, 13-5 in the semi-finals, and putting away #18 Gary Joint (Lemoore) with ease, 11-4, to win the gold medal. Robison continually confounded opponents with his speed and variety of attacks. It was difficult for most to slow him down.
Top-seed Jaxen Gilmore (Yukon) powered his way to the title at 138 pounds with four falls and two shutout victories. In the final, he shut down Bennett Mesa (Roseburg), who had been lighting up scoreboards throughout the tournament. Gilmore used a pair of takedowns and a punishing ride post a 5-0 victory in the finals.
The eighth-ranked 152 in the country, Brock Hardy (Box Elder) was just as strong down a weight at 145. After opening the tournament with four falls, Hardy was finally tested in the semi-finals but he outlasted James Fisher (Centennial), 6-4, to advance. The final was not nearly as difficult for him. Peyton Omania (De La Salle) is a quality wrestler, but Hardy outclassed him on his way to a comprehensive 9-1 major decision. Hardy was a runner-up at the 2015 RTOC, but he ascended to the top step this year.
Layne Van Anrooy (Roseburg) was also a second place finisher here a year ago, but he would not be denied this season. Facing freshman sensation A.J. Ferrari (Allen) the senior Michigan commit built a 4-0 lead and then caught Ferrari trying to dive through the legs, earning another takedown, near fall, and putting the match out of reach. The final score was 10-4 in favor of the man from Oregon. Ferrari is one to watch in the future, but Van Anrooy was just too much.
The hometown boy Andrew Berreyesa (Reno) finally got his RTOC championship in his senior year. Berreyesa was third last year but racked up two falls and two tech falls on his way into the semi-finals. Once there he dismissed Cole Moody (Bingham), 8-3, and had one last RTOC match with the title on the line. It wasn’t easy. Hayden Hastings (Sheridan) opened the scoring with an early first-period takedown and held the lead until Berreyesa tied the score with a second-period escape. That 2-2 tie was still on the board as the clock ticked under 10 seconds remaining in the match. It was only then that Berreyesa tilted Hastings for a pair of near fall points that earned him an RTOC championship at long last.
Schultz (Ponderosa) may have been the third seed, but the defending champion, who is ranked third nationally, wrestled like the favorite for two straight days. Cohlton, who often looks so calm it can be mistaken for disinterest, kept that cool demeanor throughout but kept scoring points and winning matches. His 12-4 major decision of top-seeded Darryl Aiello (De La Salle) in the finals was particularly impressive as the sophomore from Colorado reminded everyone looking on just how good he is.
Other 2016 RTOC title winners were Aaron Nagao (Esparanza, 106), Brandon Kaylor (Bonney Lake, 113), Taten Ringel (North Summit, 152), Owen Pentz (Morgan, 182), Bear Hughes (Coweta, 195), and Brandon Kipper (Columbia, 285).