"Nobody in this sport comes from out of nowhere. They come from somewhere, and they've been working hard somewhere. You don't just get better by getting older."
- Casey Schweitzer,
Carson High wrestling coach
By Dave Price
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO - Meet Carson's Kyle Banko and Shane Miller of Douglas. They may not have started the season as big names in Northern 4A wrestling, but that has changed in a hurry, and both showed why when they vaulted to gold medals in their respective weight classes at the 30th annual Asics Sierra Nevada Classic on Thursday night.
Banko swept to six straight victories over two days to win his 130-pound weight class and Miller kept his undefeated season record intact by winning the 189-pound division during a two-day tournament that brought 95 teams from five states to the Reno Livestock Events Center.
Banko was one of five individual medal winners for the Senators, who finished seventh in the team standings with 130 points and as the top team from Nevada. Kelso, Wash., captured the team title with 199.5 points, followed by Thurston, Ore., with 183.5. Carson edged Palo Verde (Las Vegas) 130-128.5 for seventh, while Fallon took ninth (125.5), Spring Creek 10th (116) and Douglas 11th (109) - giving Northern Nevada four teams in the top 11.
Also for the Senators, Robbie Bozin and Jonas Schenzel placed sixth in their respective 135- and 189-pound classes, Ahron Osheroff placed seventh at 171 pounds and Todd Banko placed eighth at 112 pounds.
"It was a very good weekend for all the kids who placed for us," Schweitzer said. "Any time you put 60-plus kids in a bracket, anyone who places in the top eight has done an outstanding job."
Banko, a junior who qualified for state as a No. 3 seed from the North last season, capped his tournament run with an 8-5 win in the finals against Matt Kloetzer of Bend, Ore.
"Kyle wrestled really aggressively the whole tournament," Schweitzer said. "He went hard start to finish in every match. I'm proud of him. He deserved that title."
For Banko (25-2), it was a good comeback after absorbing his first two losses of the season last week in the same arena at the high-powered Reno Tournament of Champions.
"I was 3-2 and didn't even make it to the second day, so I'm really happy about this" said Banko, who was seeded No. 2 in the 130-pound bracket. "I really wanted to place. Then, after I won in the semis (17-6 over Dylan Gavin of Los Gatos, Calif.), I thought I had a chance to win it."
Banko used single-leg takedowns to build leads of 6-1 and 8-3 against the 6-foot tall Kloetzer, a seventh-place finisher at the Oregon 3A state tournament last season.
"The other kid is strong and good on top, but we didn't give him much time on top and tried to stay in a neutral position as much as possible," Schweitzer said. "The kid is tall with long arms, but we caught him reaching a couple of times and we were able to get underneath."
Gold medals at the Sierra Nevada Classic are not easy to come by. Just consider that the last Carson wrestler to win at this tournament was heavyweight Chuck Guptill in 1986. The last champion for Douglas was Lamont McCann, a two-time champion in 1980 and '81.
McCann, now the first-year head coach at Douglas, was obviously excited to see Miller win and improve his season record to 30-0. The senior pinned Thurston's Brice Arand, an Oregon 4A state tournament qualifier last season, with 53 seconds remaining in the 189-pound final.
"This was a huge win for Shane," McCann said. "He just has a great work ethic and he's an outstanding kid. We're glad to have him back on the team."
Miller wrestled in Southern California at Hemet High last season, where he compiled a 40-9 record but fell short in his goal to qualify for the CIF state tournament. He didn't fall short in this tournament, coming in as the No. 1 seed and finishing on top despite falling behind 4-1 after one round. He scored on a takedown and near fall to take a 6-4 lead at the outset of the second round."
"I was so nervous before that match, but then when I got that first head-and-arm, I knew I had a chance to beat him," said Miller, who erased a 10-9 deficit with a reversal to start the third round. "I just try to go hard, to go all-out all the time. I also heard the support of our crowd, and that helped. I was glad I could bring one home."
For Douglas, senior heavyweight Matt Castro placed fifth and 152-pounder Ryan Pruitt placed seventh in his first tournament appearance this season.
Overall, local area wrestlers fared well, as Yerington 215-pounder Ryan Gilmore placed third and Dayton heavyweight Sam Armstrong earned a fourth-place medal. Dayton finished 37th in the team standings with 62 points and Yerington finished 41st with 58 points.
Gilmore, 22-3 this season and 82-4 over the past two seasons, placed second at the Classic last year but had to settle for watching Fallon's Lyle Gardner beat Steve Aranda of Thurston in an overtime match to decide the 215-pound championship. Aranda defeated Gilmore 7-1 in the semifinals.
For Carson, Osheroff's seventh-place performance in the 171-pound division was noteworthy, according to Schweitzer. The champion, Colby Covington of Thurston, placed fifth at the Junior National Championships last summer and received one of the Classic's two outstanding wrestler awards Thursday night.
"The 171-pound class was the toughest in the tournament, hands-down," Schweitzer said. "There were eight All-Americans and kids who have placed at Junior Nationals, so for Ahron to place seventh, I thought that was outstanding."
"We have some kids - Kyle, Todd, Ahron and Jonas - kids like that who put in a lot of time drilling and practicing during the spring and summer," the Carson coach continued. "And all that work shows up when you place in a tournament like this."
n Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or call 881-1220.