It's quite likely that nobody knows his way around the Carson High School wrestling program the way Doug Brooks does.
He has attended matches for as long as he can remember, simply because the Brooks family has been involved with Carson wrestling community for the better part of 20 years. His grandfather and uncle both served as Carson's head coaches between 1979 and '94, and now, he is now a standout in his own right on the mat for the Senators.
Today Brooks and the Senators will step into the big-time when they compete at the fifth annual Reno Tournament of Champions, a 90-team event that showcases some of the nation's premier prep wrestling talent. Competition on 14 mats begins today at 10 a.m. at the Reno Livestock Events Center.
Among the team entries are Crater, the two-time defending Oregon 4A state champion and ranked No. 2 in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News, according to tournament director Dave Nevin. Other team teams are Calvary Chapel (Santa Ana, Calif., No. 6 in the nation), Broken Arrow, Okla., (No. 7), Wasatch, Utah, (No. 8) and Clovis, Calif., (No. 9).
"We've gone to watch the last couple of years and thought we had some people who could compete so it's fun that we're finally going to wrestle in it," Carson coach Tim McCarthy said. "We read about a lot of these teams, now we'll be going against them."
Brooks, a junior 140-pounder, is looking forward to the challenge.
"I'm pumped, this is the biggest tournament I've ever been in," he said. "Some of the best teams in the nation are going to be there. To even be considered with teams like that is an honor. I just want to wrestle hard and hopefully I'll do well."
Among the top entrants in the 140-pound weight class are Alex Tirapelle of Clovis (ranked No. 3 in the nation) and Mitch Morgan of Wasatch (No. 5).
Brooks has already compiled a 72-31 (.699) career record in his three seasons at Carson and was a state tournament qualifier in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. He is 9-3 so far this season, highlighted by a gold medal performance at the tough James Riddle Memorial Tournament on Dec. 11 in Oakdale, Calif. Without question, the Reno TOC will be an even tougher challenge.
"He's shown that at the big tournaments he can compete with the big kids," McCarthy said of Brooks, who placed fifth at last year's high-powered Sierra Nevada Classic in Reno and finished his season with a fifth-place finish at 140 pounds at the state tournament.
Brooks, Carson's team co-captain along with 135-pounder and fellow junior Justin Sarnowski, expects the Senators to do well as a team this season.
"We have some young wrestlers, but they're tough and they're improving," he said. "They're going to be good."
This is a young man who has seen a lot of Carson wrestling, having hung out at matches since he was at least 5 years old. Bud Brooks, Doug's grandfather, was Carson's head coach between 1979 and '92 and uncle Tom Brooks directed the program between 1992 and '94. Tom Brooks is currently the head coach at Pershing County High School in Lovelock.
"My parents have always supported me," Doug said. "Wrestling that long can be discouraging because it's a tough sport - the dieting wears on you - but all the work seems well worthwhile when you win a match."
Doug Brooks also happens to be one of the area's top all-around athletes. He earned second-team all-division honors this past football season, rushing for 644 yards (6.3-yard average) and six touchdowns, and last spring he ran a best of 11.4 for 100 meters and was on a 4x100 relay team that placed fifth at the state meet. He's a standout both on and off the field of competition, according to McCarthy.
"Doug is a great kid, a very respectful kid and good role model to the other kids on the team," the coach said. "He's the type of kid you'd want your own son to grow up and be like him."