RENO - There were no medals. In fact, neither Carson High wrestlers Micah Whitcome or Ahron Osheroff placed among the top eight in their weight classes at the Reno Tournament of Champions.
However, both were upbeat about performances in which they posted 4-2 records and qualified to come back and wrestle on Tuesday, the second and final day of the 85-team tournament held at the Reno Livestock Events Center.
It's billed as the toughest tournament in America, and you won't hear any arguments from either Osheroff or Whitcome.
"The toughest high school tournament, for sure," said Osheroff, a junior who was entered in a high-powered 140-pound division. "The kids that are here are so good, you just try and watch them and learn things and techniques that you can work on and use later in the season."
Whitcome, who has been to the Junior National Championships in Fargo, N.D., each of the last three years, echoed that.
"This tournament is probably one of the toughest I've ever been to," said Whitcome, a senior 152-pounder.
This was the 10th Reno TOC and it may well have been one of the best, according to Ross Aguiar, tournament director and one of its co-founders.
"This is definitely one of the best we've ever had. The only one that might have been tougher was the first," Aguiar said. "Usually, when we do the seedings, there are maybe eight or nine kids that meet the criteria. This time, there were a lot more. In one weight class, we had 22."
That was the 140-pound weight class Osheroff was entered into. The division's top seed was Cyler Sanderson of Wasatch, Utah, who is ranked No. 1 in the nation at that weight and has already signed to wrestle for NCAA power Iowa State. Sanderson pinned his way to the semifinals, where he had to fight his way to a 14-9 win over fifth-seeded Elwin Warsh of Poway (San Diego, Calif.)
"Some of the kids have amazing reputations, then you watch them get beat" Osheroff said. "Then, you watch them get beat, or almost get beat, and you're left just breathless."
Even the best weren't immune to absorbing a defeat in this tournament.
"A lot of No. 1 seeds ended up losing," Aguiar said. "And you had five or six teams right in there (for the championship). It's been going back and forth, at one time, it seemed like the leaders were trading places by the match."
This tournament was comparable to competing in a state tournament - only multiplied by several times - because of the blue chip wrestlers representing such states as Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and of course, Nevada. In fact, only one Nevada wrestler advanced to the championship round - Bobby Musser of Cimarron-Memorial (Las Vegas) in the 160-pound weight class.
Osheroff and Whitcome both looked at the experience as beneficial. Especially with another high-powered tournament, the Sierra Nevada Classic, coming up next Tuesday and Wednesday at the Reno Livestock Events Center.
"I guess I did all right," said Osheroff, who scored an impressive 6-4 decision Monday over 12th seeded Colt Grimmett of Snake River, currently Idaho's No. 1 ranked 3A 140-pounder. "It was definitely a confidence booster and good experience. I'll do better at the (Sierra Nevada) Classic."
"This is going to get us ready for the Classic, and for the rest of the season," Whitcome added. "I think Osh and me are both going to place at the Classic. It's a tough tournament, we'll see some real good California wrestlers, but we won't see anybody from Oklahoma or Pennsylvania, that's for sure."
For more information about the Reno Tournament of Champions, go online to RTOC.net.
Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1220.