LAS VEGAS – Elko senior wrestler Kevin Villegas went out on top.
The 2016 state champion as a sophomore at 113 pounds, Villegas capped his high school career with a 126-pound state title Friday at The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
As a junior, Villegas finished as the 3A state runner-up to Virgin Valley’s Ty Smith by a score of 14-5 in the 120-pound championship.
Wrestling at 126 pounds all season, Smith elected to cut weight and drop to 120 pounds once again during the 3A South regional title.
The now four-time state champion and freestyle national title holder defeated Spring Creek junior Josh Tripp in the 120-pound by fall on Friday, paving the way for Villegas to win his second title in three seasons.
Villegas pinned Alec Torres of Pahrump Valley in 1:58 in the quarterfinal round, defeating Spring Creek sophomore Riley Fuchs by a narrow margin of 2-0 in the semifinal.
In the 126-pound championship, Villegas needed nearly every one of his five points to defeat Lowry’s Matthew Souza.
Souza earned a takedown to take the lead, Villegas fighting from behind in the early stages.
In the end, Souza managed to score only one more point on an escape, Villegas notching five of the match’s last six points – booking his second state title in three seasons.
Villegas closed the season with 3A North and 3A state titles with a 41-11 record with 19 pins, notching 124 takedowns.
Before the state tournament, the Indians seemed like they would pack home two state championships.
Junior Carl Hansen dominated the 170-pound competition all season, rolling to the 3A North regional title in the class.
Someone forgot to tell Fallon’s Marcel Poracky.
Hansen pinned Pahrump Valley’s Angel Pinzon in 1:05 in the quarterfinal round, but he lost a 4-3 decision to Poracky in the semifinal – who eventually won the state championship.
Following the defeat, Hansen responded with a major-decision victory of 12-4 over Boulder City’s Thorston Balmer in the consolation semifinal.
In the third-fourth place match, Hansen rolled to a fall victory for the consolation championship – pinning Moapa Valley’s Gavin Henrie in 1:12.
Hansen rewrote the Elko record book record in numerous single-season categories, breaking the wins record with a 47-8 mark and setting a new precedent with 36 pins.
The previous records of 46 wins and 31 pins stood for more than 20 years, notched in the 1995-1996 season by Jim Milligan.
Senior Josh Boulard was the only other Elko wrestler who competed in the state tournament, finishing with a 1-2 record.
He lost his opening match by fall in 46 seconds – earning his lone victory by a 6-3 decision in the consolation bracket – losing a 1-0 decision in the second round of the consolation bracket to Lowry’s Andres Gonzalez.
Congratulations to Kevin Villegas for his second state championship in three seasons, Carl Hansen on his record-breaking year and Josh Boulard on his first qualification to the state tournament.
State tournament takeaways
Of the 14 state titles in the respective weight classes, the North claimed nine state championships – the South finishing with five – while the North was awarded just three spots in each class (42 total wrestlers), the South packing five (70 total wrestlers).
Spring Creek and Fallon each claimed four state crowns, Villegas notching Elko’s lone title.
The Greenwave packed just five wrestlers to state, four winning their classes: 132-pound sophomore Tommy McCormick, 160-pound junior Sean McCormick (third straight title), Poracky at 170 pounds and 285-pound junior Ben Dooley.
Spring Creek won three divisions in a row, junior Dyllan Fuchs at 138 pounds (second straight title), senior Anthony Chavez at 145 pounds (second title overall) and 152-pound freshman Beau Chacon.
Sophomore Jeff Guthrie tallied the Spartans’ fourth title at 195 pounds.
Virgin Valley claimed three of the South’s state championships: junior Rudy Cannon at 106 pounds (second straight title), senior Ty Smith at 120 pounds (four-time state champ) and senior Crescent Crandall at 182 pounds (second straight title).
Western senior Diego Ortega notched his second-consecutive title at 113 pounds, and Pahrump Valley senior Morgan White tallied the final state title for the South at 220 pounds.