Douglas High wrestling

Tiger wrestling has strong showing at Steve Deaton Memorial Tournament

Douglas High’s Gunnar Bleeker puts his hands up in celebration after pinning his opponent in his first-place match at 113 pounds. Bleeker went 3-0 to win his bracket at the Steve Deaton Memorial Tournament.

Douglas High’s Gunnar Bleeker puts his hands up in celebration after pinning his opponent in his first-place match at 113 pounds. Bleeker went 3-0 to win his bracket at the Steve Deaton Memorial Tournament.
Photo by Ron Harpin.

Douglas High School wrestling defended its home mats Saturday, picking up five first place finishes at its inaugural Steve Deaton Memorial Tournament.

Starting at 113 pounds, Gunnar Bleeker was able to march his way through his bracket without much difficulty, going 3-0 with two pins and a win by major decision.

“I felt really good. I knew it was going to be a tough match,” said Bleeker. “I just couldn’t stop. I just couldn’t give up. I think I did the best I could’ve today.”

In his final match, Bleeker pinned Manny Montano from Fernley in 3:28 before tossing his hands up in celebration.

Moving up the ladder to 150 pounds, Kolton Zinn was 3-0 with three pins before his final match.

Zinn led 10-2 after a pair of nearfall chances before flipping himself into a dicey position.

However, the Tiger senior recovered quickly and was able to pin his opponent from Pershing County in 5:15 to take the gold.

“I felt really in control in the beginning. It got a little sloppy at the end because I was pretty tired and the kid was pretty strong,” said Zinn. “I think I was pretty dominant throughout (the day).”

Zinn said his confidence in his bridge kept him from feeling any sense of panic for the few moments he was on his back.

Douglas’ two dominant upper weight wrestlers continued to steamroll their way through their opponents.

At 190 pounds, Aaron Tekansik won his first two matches by pin in a combined 34 seconds before needing 5:03 to pin his opponent in the semifinals.

In the finals, Tekansik went up against KeShawn Love from Fernley and recorded a 7-0 decision win.

The senior went up 2-0 in the first period on a takedown via a switch before controlling the match the rest of the way.

“I was thinking about taking him down and keeping him there. Working a turn if I could, but just staying on top,” said Tekansik. “I like hitting switches. I know he does, too, cause I’ve wrestled him once before. I was expecting it when he went to do it.”

(Aaron Tekansik gets his hand raised after putting up a 7-0 decision victory for earn first place in his 190-pound weight bracket at Saturday’s first Steve Deaton Memorial Tournament. / Ron Harpin)

Sage Adie pinned his way to first-place at 215 pounds without much issue Saturday.

The senior’s only match to make it into the third round was his championship bout, which he pinned his opponent from Wooster in 4:22.

“I’ve wrestled him a few times before so I knew what he did. I have a big respect for him and his whole team,” said Adie. “I could’ve wrestled better. I am a perfectionist, so I am kind of mad with how I wrestled today, but I’ll fix it next weekend.”

Adie wants to fix some his shots on offense, but focusing on cleaning up the little things is the senior’s main focal point moving forward.

Other notable finishes from the Tiger boys include Kai Blumenthal taking second at 126 pounds as well as Izaak Conkle at 175.

Travis Haliwell bounced back from a second-round loss with two pins to take third at 165 pounds.

Cody Highfill was third at 120 while Caden Martin (285) and Dalton Nixon (157) were both fourth.

Vincent Cereghino won his 126/132 pound bracket with the Douglas ‘B’ team, which caught the eye of teammates and coaching staff alike.

“That doesn’t happen very often. The team is coming together really good,” said Tekansik.

In the girls brackets, Ella Kavanagh won two matches by pin and another by 6-2 decision to go 3-0 on the day.

Kavanagh’s first-place match only lasted that 37 seconds as the sophomore was able to put away her opponent via the pin.

Bliss Moody took second at 120 pounds with her only loss coming in the championship round.

Jasmine Tamondong (114) and Monique Alloway (132) were both third in their respective brackets for the Douglas girls.

“Getting that success and getting to the medal rounds is long overdue given some of the tournaments we’ve been at,” said head coach Jake Fair. “I’m sure there is a huge relief off their chest that the work we’ve put in has been worth it.”

As a team, Douglas took second place with 289 points, finishing only behind Fernley’s 365.5.

Douglas wrestling reminisces about coach Steve Deaton

Steve Deaton is still very much on the mind of Douglas High School wrestling.

Deaton served as an assistant wrestling coach at the high school for seven years before passing away in October of 2022 after a battle with cancer.

Douglas head coach Jake Fair figured a memorial tournament was the best way to honor a friend and a fellow coach.

After poor weather and snow forced a cancellation of the tournament last year, Saturday served as the first Steve Deaton Memorial Tournament.

Several Tiger wrestlers were able to reflect on Deaton and what he meant to them.

“He coached me through middle school and up through high school the last couple years,” said senior Aaron Tekansik. “He taught me a lot. He taught us all a lot and brought a lot to this program. This is the least we could do for him in his honor. He was a great guy and we all loved him.”

Kolton Zinn, a fellow Tiger senior, echoed Tekansik.

“It’s great that we got a whole bunch of wins this tournament. It was great to honor him,” said Zinn. “It means a lot to me. Me and Steve were pretty close. He was the one who really believed in me when I first started. He spent a lot of time helping me out. He was a good coach.”

For senior Sage Adie, it was Deaton who was the first one to teach him how to wrestle.

“He taught me how to wrestle. He was the first person to actually teach me how to wrestle,” said Adie. “Losing him was pretty hard, but to be able to come out here and get first place for him at the first Steve Deaton tournament is pretty special.”

Steve Deaton’s brother, Brian, is still an assistant with the program and both of Deaton’s sons, Gabe and Matthew, were in attendance Saturday to pass out awards.

“It’s pretty special. Having his boys here to present the awards was even more special,” Fair said. “The coaches and I decided to memorialize him with this tournament. We got to spend the night on the mat and share stories about Steve last (Friday) night.”

Among some of the light-hearted memories revolved around Deaton and food.

“We used to always eat sugar cubes in the back of his truck and he’d yell at us. It was pretty funny,” said Adie. “He was a big horse guy. That was the funniest thing I have about him is he’d yell at us for eating sugar cubes.”

Sugar during wrestling season may be a tad foolish for those trying to make weight, but his pulled pork dish is still on many folks’ minds. 

“I guarantee you everyone here misses his pulled pork,” Fair said. “It was an amazing tradition and we miss him.”


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment