League title on the line for Tiger grapplers
Saturday marks senior day for four talented Douglas High wrestlers.
The Tigers play host to Reno High School for what will be the last home match for seniors Matt Castro, Shane Miller, Cameron Ames and Bryan Kaplan.
A win Saturday would clinch the first outright Sierra League title for the Tigers since the inception of the league six years ago.
“It’ll definitely be bittersweet,” Douglas coach Lamont McCann said. “We should be able to capture the league title, but at the same time we are losing some very valuable wrestlers. They are simply good people to be around, they have great attitudes and they’ve all been extremely coachable.”
In each of the last five years, the league title has come down to the season-ending Carson-Douglas match. The two teams tied once in 2003, but Carson prevailed in the other four matches.
This season, however, Douglas turned the tables, beating Carson in the season-opener 36-31.
“That Carson match was great,” Castro, who has a 38-7 record on the year, said. “It was a huge motivation boost for us and it took a huge load off of our shoulders having Carson out of the way so early in the season.”
Each of the Tiger seniors pointed to that match as a highlight of the season.
“I was jumping all around when we beat them,” Miller said. “That was a huge match for us.”
Kaplan’s come-from-behind victory over Carson’s Brian Halverson proved to be pivotal in the match.
“That was my strongest performance of the year,” Kaplan said. “I’ve beaten him once and he’s beaten me once. That was big for me.”
Kaplan (32-14) scored a reversal and a near fall with 30 seconds remaining in that match to take an 8-4 victory.
Miller began turning heads with an impressive, if not surprising, victory at the prestigious Sierra Nevada Classic in December.
“It was crazy,” Miller said. “I didn’t think I’d even get close. I was just hoping to make the second day.”
Miller has rolled through the season with a 41-1 record and is a favorite to win both the regional and state titles in February.
His first loss came last weekend in the finals of the Alhambra tournament.
“I was up with 30 seconds left in that match and I fell on my knees and lost it,” Miller said. “It was more my mistake then him beating me, but I learned from it and it was a good lesson.
“I’m just trying to keep going strong and avoid getting hurt.”
Castro has been a leader both on and off the mats for the Tigers, and his season highlight also came at the Sierra Nevada Classic, where he took fifth.
“It’s been a busy year,” Castro said. “Just trying to make sure everyone is doing the right things. It’s been fun.”
Ames has been a consistent contributor to the Tiger lineup as well, piling up a 29-12 record on the year. He also won the 140-pound title at the Carson Valley Lions’ Invitational.
“All of these guys have improved so much just in this season alone,” McCann said. “They’ve adapted to the changes we’ve made and they have accomplished a lot. They made giant steps toward taking this team where we want it to be in the future.
“I definitely wish them the best of luck in whatever they do. They’ll all be successful in whatever they try, just because of the type of people they are. As seniors, they truly have carried that load of leadership.”
Wrestling starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Douglas High School gymnasium.
n Joey Crandall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.