Billed as the "Toughest tournament in the USA," many of the best collegiate and high school wrestlers will be on hand when the Reno Tournament of Champions begins its three-day run today.
The TOC gets under way today with 20 college teams competing - including No. 1 Oklahoma State - with action starting at 9 a.m. at the Reno Livestock Events Center. The championship round is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start.
Then on Monday, the Carson Senators will be part of an 85-team field assembled for the two-day TOC high school competition. Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. both days, with the finals scheduled to start at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
"This is a pretty impressive tournament," Carson coach Tim McCarthy said. "Just to be there to watch the caliber of wrestling is going to be good experience for our kids."
Carson finished 20th in the team standings last year behind seniors Nick Shine, who placed fifth in the 215-pound weight class, and Joe Roman, who placed eighth at 171 pounds. To put those performances in perspective, Shine went on to become a champion and Roman a runner-up at the Nevada 4A state tournament. Shine's two TOC losses came against Brandon Halsey of Rancho Buena Vista, who ended his season as California's state 215-pound champion, and an overtime loss to Dustin Finn of Westmoore, Okla., who was the Oklahoma 5A state runner-up.
That's what it takes to medal at the Reno TOC. Then again, the top three high school place finishers are recognized with All American status.
While Shine and Roman have both graduated, the Senators are coming off a strong runner-up showing last weekend at the James Riddle Memorial Classic in Oakdale, Calif., where Robbie Bozin and Micah Whitcome were second-place finishes in their respective 119- and 152-pound divisions. Owen Craugh (103 pounds), Kevin Riggin (135), Travis Lamborn (160) and Jason Klug (275) also placed third for Carson in the tournament.
The Reno TOC will be a step up in terms of level of competition. Maybe two or three.
Among the entered teams are defending tournament champion Wasatch, currently the top ranked 3A team in Utah; defending California state champion Bakersfield; Ponca City and Broken Arrow, the No. 1 and No. 3 teams overall in Oklahoma at the end of the 2003-04 season; two-time defending Nevada 4A champion Cimarron-Memorial; and four-time Pennsylvania dual meet state champion Easton.
Another team to reckon with should be Central California power Lemoore, a team that swept to the championship earlier this month at Carson's Capitol City Duals. Of interest, the Lemoore team will be up today to watch two of its former standouts wrestle in the college tournament - Chris Pendleton of Oklahoma State, currently the nation's No. 1 ranked 174-pounder, and Marcio Botelo of Fresno State, ranked No. 4 at 197 pounds. Pendleton's younger brother, Willy, is a standout at 135 pounds for Lemoore.
The Reno TOC has other family ties, too. Oklahoma State's Jake Rosholt, the 2003 NCAA 184-pound title and currently ranked No. 1 at 197 pounds, will be joined by his younger brother, Jared Rosholt, a senior at Ponca City who has signed with Oklahoma State. Jared Rosholt and the defending TOC 215-pound champion and was listed as the No. 1 215-pounder in the Amateur Wrestling News high school preseason individual rankings.
Wasatch (Heber City, Utah) will return with another solid team led by senior Cyler Sanderson, the defending Reno TOC 135-pound champion who came into this season with a 117-8 career record and is ranked as the nation's No. 1 prep at 140 pounds by Amateur Wrestling News. Sanderson has signed with Iowa State, following three older brothers, including Cael Sanderson, who compiled a 159-0 college record and won an Olympic gold medal in Athens earlier this year.
College notes ... In addition to top-ranked Oklahoma State, No. 18 Arizona State and No. 22 Cal State-Bakersfield will be in Reno today. The field also includes Oregon, Stanford, Wisconsin, Boise State and Fresno State. ... Among the mainstays in Arizona State's lineup is Ryan Bader, a McQueen High graduate who is currently ranked No. 5 in the nation at 197 pounds. Bader is a two-time Pac-10 champion who placed fourth at the NCAA Championships last March in St. Louis.
Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or call 881-1220.