Douglas wrestling team looking to move forward
Led by a nucleus of eight returning veterans, including three 2016 state tournament qualifiers, the Douglas High wrestling team is looking to the start of its new season with optimism.
More than that if you ask first-year head coach Jake Fair.
“This program has been successful in the past. It’s been a championship program,” Fair said. “We need to get back to that championship mentality where we’re here to compete and to succeed at competing.”
Douglas opens Friday and Saturday at the Earl Wilkens/Stockman’s Memorial dual team tournament in Fallon, followed by its home opening dual meet Dec. 7 against Bishop Manogue. Douglas also hosts the Carson Valley Lions Invitational on Jan. 14.
Fair, who has replaced Dave Singer as the program’s head coach, inherits a solid nucleus of returnees that includes state tournament qualifiers Blake Murray, along with brothers Will Williams and Andrew Williams.
Murray was one win away from wrestling for third-place in the state tournament 160-pound bracket, plus he won gold medals at the Sparks and Douglas tournaments. He finished the season with a 43-8 record (70-20 career).
Will Williams (28-14 last season) was a second-place finisher in the 138-pound weight class at the 2016 region tournament, while Andrew Williams (27-15) placed third in his 113-pound division.
Ryan Adams (38-10) narrowly missed qualifying for state when he placed fourth in the 120-pound division. He was a gold medal winner at the Carson Valley Lions Invitational.
Kindel Isham finished his 2015-16 season as the Sierra League’s No. 3 seed in a tough 106-pound weight class and was one win away from competing for a state berth in 2015.
Shane Trivitt, Mason Melhus, Chad Singer and Richard Castellanos also return with experience.
Adams, who could wrestle anywhere from 113 to 126 pounds, Isham (120), Andrew Williams (126-132), Melhus (138) and Will Williams (145) figure to give the Tigers strength in the middle of their lineup.
Will Williams and Adams, both seniors, along with sophomore Trivitt, are the team captains.
Trivitt made the best of his limited varsity opportunities last season, highlighted by a 113-pound gold medal and tournament outstanding wrestler award at Sparks then later when he moved up two weight classes and won a 126-pound match in a Sierra League dual meet against Damonte Ranch.
“Normally, you don’t see that,” Fair said, referring to a sophomore team captain. “He competed with Andrew (Williams) for that spot at 113 pounds, but when we needed him, Shane stepped up and achieved a lot last year.”
Looking ahead, the Tigers compete again on Dec. 17 at the 11th annual Jailbreak Duals hosted by Folsom High School (Calif.). Their final tune-up before the Northern 4A Region Tournament in February will be the Placer Duals in Auburn, Calif.
“We’re going to two California tournaments that we haven’t been to before,” Fair said. “We want to bring in a new mix to give us a look at different teams so we’re really hitting it hard in the (season) homestretch.”
Another highlight on the schedule is the 80-team Sierra Nevada Classic on Dec. 28-29 at the Reno Livestock Events Center. The tournament will showcase wrestlers from California, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada.
The 17th annual Fernley Vaquero Classic will be another featured event leading up to the Northern 4A Region Championships.
As for that tradition of success, Douglas won Northern Nevada team titles in 1981-82 and in 2002. The Tigers have also produced 11 individual state champions since 1975, two of whom were undefeated as seniors — Ed Garrison (35-0 in 1976-77) and Mike Sheets (43-0 in 1985-86).
Now, the new coach is excited to be at the helm of the Douglas program.
“I have a lot of goals; the first is to be competitive,” Fair said. “Another goal is building the program to where it needs to be. This is an amazing opportunity to try to push them to a new level. Player development, to me, is one of the most important aspects of coaching.”
Note: Fair is no stranger to Carson Valley sports, having coached in the community over the past decade, including Pop Warner football, Little League baseball and wrestling assistant. Fair wrestled at Vermillion High School in Ohio and his father, Skip Fair, has coached the sport for nearly 50 years (in 2014 he was inducted into the Lorain County Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Fame). His current assistants are D’Art Johnson, a Douglas graduate, and Sergio Lopez.