By: Alex Steen
The opening day of a big high school tournament like the 2016 Reno Tournament of Champions is a mixed bag. There is excitement as the matches get underway, but for many of the favorites, day one is about not spending too much time on the mat, getting through the day, and preparing for the big matches to come. Certainly, there are upsets, but for the high seeds that are on their game, day one includes little drama. Fourth-ranked Brandon Kaylor (Bonney Lake), #12 Ian Timmins (Wooster), sixth-ranked Jet Taylor (Sallisaw), third-ranked Layne van Anrooy (Roseburg), who has three falls in under a minute, number seven Ashton Seely (Juab), and third-ranked Cohlton Schultz (Ponderosa) all fell into that category on Friday, easing into the quarters.
The team race is shaping up to be a good one, but there are still big moves to be made. Pomona led after the round of 16 with 115 points and 13 wrestlers still alive. Choctaw advanced 10 the quarter-finals while no other team had more than seven. They sit second with 101.5. Wasatch, Yukon, and Allen all had more than 90 points, while Roseburg, Coweta, and Layton all had more than 75 and at least five wrestlers in the quarters. This could still come down to the three nationally ranked teams, Allen, Choctaw, and Wasatch battling it out, but Pomona and Roseburg, in particular, could hang around until the end.
There was little drama for the third-seed at 138 pounds, Matt Rochester (Battle Mountain), but not in a good way. Dalton Lakmann (Foothill PC) dominated Rochester in the opening round, securing a 17-1 tech-fall in 5:30. Matt, a three-time Nevada state finalist, could not recover, losing his first bout on the back side by fall after entering the third period tied with Michael Adams (Sutter Union). It can happen to anyone on any given day which makes these tournaments exciting.
The top seed at 152 pounds, Jason Romero (Pomona) scored three consecutive falls to reach the quarters, displaying a bit of a mean streak along the way. In his second bout of the day, Romero appeared frustrated after not getting a fall called and coasted for a bit after that. That isn’t what you want to see, but he recovered and exploded to start the third period, tossing Cy Giovanetti (Reno) onto his back and leaving no doubt about the pin this time around.
These tournaments can be incredibly tough because even some of the unseeded wrestlers are outstanding. That applies at 145 with JJ Figueroa (Bakersfield), who was fourth in California in 2015, who looked strong on day one. An injury last season left Figueroa’s seeding resume a little lacking, but he is showing that he is still a strong wrestler. He opened the day with a fall in 3:12 and then rolled into the round of 16 with a 12-4 major decision to set up a showdown with third-seeded Logan Jensen (Herriman). Figueroa built a 3-0 lead in that one but saw it melt away in the third period on a Jensen escape and two stalling points. Jensen got the win in extra time sending Figueroa to the wrestle backs.
Cornell recruit Andrew Berreyesa looks the part of a college wrestler already. He is big, fast, strong, and cruising along in his hometown. The wrestler from Reno had a second-period fall, an 18-3 tech-fall, and a 20-5 tech-fall on the day. The number one seed at 170 pounds will look for more of the same tomorrow.
It isn’t always domination that impresses. At times, we learn a good deal more about a young wrestler when they aren’t at their best and have to find a way to advance. This was the case with top-seeded 106 pounder Brenden Chaowanapibool (Bonney Lake). The sophomore was visibly frustrated throughout his opening round match with Elijah DeLaCerda (Alamosa), even after he led 2-1 at the end of the first period. Chaowanapibool showed he was comfortable in a variety of positions on his feet and kept his cool, even after DeLaCerda tilted him for two, making the score 5-4 in the final frame. Chaowanapibool escaped and then attacked for the rest of the match, keeping DeLaCerda at bay. It wasn’t the Bonney Lake wrestler’s best match, but he had his hand in the air when it was over. Chaowanapibool had an easier time in the round of 16, putting away Rudy Cannon (Virgin Valley), 13-1.
The second seed at 138, Bennett Mesa (Roseburg), was pushed to the limit in his second match of the day by Iaiah Mora (Esparanza). This was a nip and tuck bout all the way and was wrestled at such a high pace early that both wrestlers appeared to be struggling by the end of the second period. Mesa initially took advantage of the fatigue, building a lead entering the third period, but really hit the wall there as Mora earned a pair of takedowns to close the gap. The man from Esparanza needed one more to force overtime, but the match ended with Mesa in the splits and no takedown awarded.
This was a fun match to watch and both wrestlers showed a lot of heart to keep fighting all the way through. The win gave the Roseburg crowd, which was notably louder than any other team’s, reason to roar. There aren’t that many of them, but everyone here knows when their wrestlers win. Mesa would have another entertaining bout, keeping his cool in a match that could have gotten out of hand and, eventually, securing a major decision to move into the quarter-finals.
The move of the day secured Fabian Santillan (Grandview) an upset victory over third-seeded Colton Yapoujian (Pomona) at 120 pounds. Santillan was in desperation mode, chasing a takedown late in their round of 16 bout. He trailed 3-2 and time was almost out. That is when Santillan cartwheeled into a fireman’s carry position and scored the winning points just before time expired in bout 915. It was a spectacular move and a huge win for Fabian Santillan.