Mat men in country’s ‘toughest tournament’

Four Mariner mat men travelled to Reno for the 20th anniversary of the Reno Tournament of Champions, titled “The Toughest Tournament in America.”

The top three placers in each weight class earn All-American status. 

Homer sophomore Jared Brant, 120 pounds, fresh off of a fourth-place finish at the Alaska State Tournament, opened with eventual champion Jared Torres of Pamona, Colo. Brant held his own in the first period and only trailed 2-0. Torres was able to turn Brant a couple of times and eventually pinned Brant in the third period.

That was a super tough draw to start the tournament, with more than 70 wrestlers in the bracket and Brant getting the best first round. On the back side, Brant was able to pin Robert Cox of North Medford, Ore.

Brant then went on to wrestle Joel Valdez of Kodiak. Valdez is a big school finalist and Brant lost to him by a pin a month ago. Brant nearly scored four or five leg attacks against Valdez, getting in deep on his legs, but either going out of bounds or ending in a stalemate position. The score was only 2-0 going into the third period when Brant was pinned in an arm bar.

Mariner sophomore Ravi Cavasos, 126, started the tournament against a familiar face, Isaiah Elvsaas of Wasilla. Elvsaas was able to pin Cavasos in the first period. On the back side, Cavasos earned a decision with a close 10-9 win over Joel Swenson of Chapparal, Colo. Cavasos scored many good leg attacks and a reversal, nearly earning a pin before Swenson scored four points at the end of a match that almost went into overtime.

Cavasos then wrestled Quint Bell of Lowery High School in Nevada. Bell was solid in a 9-0 win over Cavasos.

Cavasos’ teammate Jaime Rios, 132, who placed fifth at Alaska’s state meet, drew eventual third-place finisher and All-American Evan Fidilbus from Easton, Pa. Rios battled tough, even scoring a reversal against Fidilbus. Rios never gave up and was tech-falled 18-3.

Rios then went against Cade Haliday of Heriman, Utah, scoring a high-c leg attack to tie the match at 4-4 and letting Haliday go with a minute left to attempt another takedown. However, Haliday was able to defend and earn a 5-4 win.

Homer freshman Tristan Cook, 152, placed fourth in the state meet at 160 and decided to go 152 for the Reno tourney. Cook, who was weighing in light for 160 all season, opened with a pin of Landon Munson of Bingham, Utah. The match was tied most of the first and second periods before Cook was able to wear Munson down and pin him.

Cook then wrestled Tyler Tahbo from Lehi, Utah, pinning Tahbo in the second period. He then wrestled Nolan Shine of Carson, Nev. Shine came out strong and was able to pin Cook. 

Cook then lost a close match to Destry Talledo of Arbor View, Nev., 6-5. Cook took down Talledo late in the match, but could not turn him.

The team was very competitive, losing close matches and facing respectable, highly ranked opponents. Alaskan Josh Roetman of Kotzebue won the 182-pound weight class and was voted the most outstanding wrestler. There were more than 120 high school teams in attendance and Homer scored 13 points, placing 90th. Poway of California took first with more than 200 points.

Mitch Wyatt, a former state champion for Homer and wrestling now for Colorado Mesa University, wrestled in the college division the next day. 

Wrestling at 184, Wyatt drew No. 3 seed Ben Stroh from the University of Wyoming in the first match. Stroh, a former four-time state champion from Montana, beat Wyatt via tech fall. Wyatt never gave up and battled Stroh tough, not getting pinned.

He then beat a conference opponent from Adams State, 10-2.  Wyatt was able to shoot leg attacks and turned Joe Garcia to his back with a turk ride.

Wyatt placed third and fourth his first two tournaments this season before the Reno Tournament.  Mesa is a D II school.  He then advanced with a medical forfeit and then was pinned by Ross Taylor of Utah Valley State University. Taylor ended up placing sixth.

Wyatt is a red-shirt junior who is varsity for the Mavericks team, currently ranked in the Top 20 for D II wrestling programs.

Chris Perk is the Homer High School Mariner head wrestling coach. He also is the school’s activities director.