Reno TOC lives up to name
Douglas High’s Blake Murray knows all too well why the Reno Tournament of Champions is billed as the “Toughest Tournament in the USA.”
And while he had hoped to move farther along in the bracket of the tournament held Friday and Saturday at the Reno Events Center, Murray was simply satisfied with the experience gained from three 182-pound eight matches against opponents from three different states.
“I believe so, or at least one of the toughest,” said Murray, who went 1-2 during his matches on Friday. “It was super good to see high level wrestlers from all over the country coming here to Northern Nevada, and it was good to see that I could hang with some of them.”
Murray, a senior who placed third at Nevada’s 4A state tournament back in February, won his opener by fall in 1:43 against Heston Percival of Davis High (Kaysville, Utah).
Next, he was pinned by a ranked Colorado wrestler, Drian Hays of Legacy (Broomfield, Colo.), in 2:54. Hays is currently ranked No. 2 among Colorado 5A division wrestlers and placed third at his state tournament as a 170-pounder last season. Hays wound up with a seventh-place finish Saturday at the Reno TOC.
“He’s tough, but that was a winnable match,” Murray said. “I had taken him down; he just caught me on my back.”
Murray’s final loss came by an 11-3 decision against Cody Golding of Oakdale, Calif., who was coming off a gold medal performance one week before at Oakdale’s high-powered James Riddle Classic.
To illustrate the level of competition at the Reno TOC, the 182-pound gold medal match showcased two nationally ranked wrestlers, with A.J. Ferrari (Allen, Texas) winning by a 3-1 decision over Anthony Montalvo of Buchanan (Clovis, Calif.). Ferrari was a Texas 6A state champion as a freshman last season. Montalvo, a senior who has committed to wrestle at Oklahoma State, won the California state 182-pound title back in March and placed second in 2016. The third-place medalist at 182 pounds, Brandyn Van Tassell of Maple Mountain (Spanish Fork, Utah), was a 4A state champion last season.
Douglas hosts its own Carson Valley Lions Club Invitational this Friday and Saturday. A field of 25 teams is tentatively set for the tournament, which has been expanded to a two-day event for the first time this year. Wrestling on Friday is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.