Belts on the line for grapplers

Two tournaments separated by hundreds of miles.

It is this week’s story for the Fallon wrestling team. Seven Wave grapplers will travel to Temecula, Calif., to compete in the Temecula Valley “Battle for the Belt,” while the rest of the club heads to Spring Creek for the Spartans annual tournament.

Both events provide stiff competition, but the “Battle for the Belt” features some of the best wrestlers California, Nevada and Colorado has to offer.

Fallon seniors Clay Amezquita, Dakota Schelling, Ricky Rogers, Anthony Sabatino and Robert White along with sophomores Sam Goings and Trae Workman all aim to earn a title belt.

“It’s tough, really tough,” Fallon coach Mitch Overlie said. “Pound-for-pound, it’s one of the toughest tournaments in the country.”

This marks the fourth high-profile tournament for Fallon this season after trips to the Reno Tournament of Champions, Sierra Nevada Classic and Natomas (Calif).

Overlie said it provides another opportunity for his athletes to display their skills against some of the West Coast’s best talent. In addition, it can also be used as a springboard for those grapplers who wish to continue their careers in college.

But the grand prize for each weight class is what the wrestlers are shooting for. A full UFC/boxing-type championship belt is given to each winner.

The tournament, though, features 64-man brackets for each weight class.

“It’s cool and has a big Grizzly on it,” Overlie said of the belt. “It’s a big deal. This group (of Fallon wrestlers) can compete there. After the first round or two, there won’t be an easy match.”

While the magnificent seven battle in sunny Southern California, Fallon’s up and coming contingent will face off against foes from Nevada, Utah and Idaho in Spring Creek.

Much like their counterparts in California, the Spring Creek tournament allows those athletes to size up the in-state competition as well as work on various moves against the out-of-state opponents.

“They are going to have good competition as well,” Overlie said. “All those kids are going to get five, six, seven matches.”

Overlie said he is trying to avoid Northern Division I-A opponents as much as possible. The repetitive nature of facing the same competition gets old and can work against the Wave’s grapplers during the postseason.

More matches against the same opponent allows them to figure out strategy and moves, although it does work both ways. Fresh competition, especially at the four big tournaments, pushes each wrestler to their limits and forces them to improve, create scoring chances and overcome adversity.

“At this point last year, we’d already wrestled Lowry four times,” Overlie said. “Once you get that familiarity … it can also work against you. I think the advantage is going deep into a match and being able to pull those out.”


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