Spanish Springs sends 11 to state, Casarez wins fourth consecutive regional title for Raiders
RENO – Saturday morning provided a scare to Spanish Springs’ regional wrestling dominance.
Eight different Cougs suffered semifinal defeats in the 4A North regional tournament at Reno High and were sent to the third/fourth place matches. The winner of the following match would qualify for state. The loser was done for the season.
“We hit a rough patch earlier in the day and I tell you what, Reno showed up,” Spanish Springs coach Joe Imelli said. “Their kids did a heck of a job today. We just regrouped the team, had a talk about getting our focus back … and making sure we get guys to go to state.”
The Cougars went 6-2 in the winner-to-state matchups and went on to win their fifth consecutive regional title, their eighth in nine years, holding off Reno with a team score of 223 – 21 points clear of the Huskies.
Carson (157) finished third, McQueen (126) fourth, Damonte Ranch (118.5) fifth and Reed (96) sixth.
“It’s always good to be pushed,” Imelli said. “I love the fact that Reno showed up and pushed us. It’s going to make us better. Absolutely.”
When the championship matches started, the Cougs held a 20-point lead over the Huskies. And right off the bat, Spanish Springs’ Anthony Sissom squared off with Reno’s Eric Lopez for the 106-pound title.
Sissom, a freshman, pinned Lopez with 32 seconds left in the second round.
“I told him, ‘you know, start us off,’ and you can’t ask for a better start, against Reno in Reno’s house,” Imelli said. “That was a big start for where we needed to go.”
Two matches later, Jacob Ruiz pinned Reed’s Alex Casarez with 11 seconds left in the final round for the 120-pound title. The victory put the Cougs up 32 points and mathematically eliminated Reno (which had five wrestlers left) from title contention.
In total, three Spanish Springs wrestlers won regional titles. Cole Drescher won the 160-pound title match by major decision, 10-1. It was his second consecutive championship.
Joey McKay (152) and Tyler Barats (285) were both runners up.
Owen Jones (113), Nick Poalillo (126), Isaac Ruiz (145), Colby Preston (170), Case Preston (195) and Killian Hurley (220) all punched their tickets to state with wins in the 3rd/4th places matches.
“The run these boys have had has been incredible,” said Imelli, who coached the Cougs to their 10th straight league title, and their 60th consecutive league dual victory, earlier this season. “I’m really excited to see how they finish up this next week. That’s a heck of a senior class we’re sending out.”
For Reed, Izzy Casarez completed a career sweep of regional titles with a 14-6 major decision victory over McKay. Casarez is the first Reed wrestler ever to win four regional titles. As a freshman, he won at 120. As a sophomore, he won at 126. Last winter, he won at 138 before going on to claim the state title.
He will be joined at state by his younger brother, Alex, who took second at 120 pounds and Tim Eubanks, who took third in the 182-pound class.
Neither team will have to travel far for state next week, especially Spanish Springs.
The Cougars are hosting the two-day tournament Friday and Saturday.
They will be wrestling for their first state title in program history after taking second to Green Valley last winter. Green Valley has won five consecutive state titles and will once again be a force, qualifying 13 wrestlers for the tournament (Spanish Springs qualified 11).
“We’re not worrying about qualifying anymore. We’re at where we’re at with the 11 guys,” Imelli said. “Whatever matchups we get with Green Valley, we have to make sure we’re winning those matchups. I’ll tell you what, we’re obviously a big fan of everybody that’s wrestling against them.”
Pair of Railroaders state bound
Sparks sent a pair of wrestlers to state on Saturday, the final day of the 3A North regional tournament at Truckee.
Avery Aranas (138) qualified by taking second, and Colby Bowman (132) finished third.
As a team, Sparks finished in seventh (out of nine) with 90 points. Spring Creek won the 3A North title with 247 points. Fallon (214) finished second in front of Lowry (207).
The 3A state tournament will run simultaneously with the 1A, 2A and 4A tournaments next Friday and Saturday at Spanish Springs.