PRIMM – The Elko wrestling team finished fifth as a team at the state wrestling tournament Saturday, but the Indians nearly pulled off a brotherly sweep – as sophomore Kevin Villegas earned a state championship and senior brother Aram Villegas finished as the runner-up.
Elko placed fifth out of 20 teams – scoring 66 points – trailing Virgin Valley (fourth), Spring Creek, runner-up Lowry and state-champion Fallon, which captured its first state crown in the history of the school.
The Greenwave finished with four state champions, including Sean McCormick at 138 pounds and Trae Workman in the 160-pound class.
While Elko did not tally champion brothers, the Greenwave did. Sophomore Matt Goings took the trophy in the 152-pound division and senior Sam Goings wrapped up back-to-back state championships with a victory in the 170-pound class.
The new 113-pound champion of the Silver State is Kevin Villegas. The sophomore finished the state tournament with a 3-0 record, winning his quarterfinal match and semifinal matches with pins over Ivan DeAnda of Clark and Zane Dennington of Boulder City.
He earned a 3-0 decision victory over Mason Smith of Fallon in the final, claiming his first state championship.
Aram Villegas, the two-time defending state champion who finished as the reserve champion as a freshman, reached the 120-pound final in search of the three-peat.
He also won his first two matches by fall, defeating Damian Camacho of Del Sol in the quarterfinal and Spring Creek’s Drake Kennedy in the semifinal.
Aram Villegas’ matchup in the championship match was a familiar foe, Jacob Baird of Mesquite, who had previously beaten Villegas during the Spring Creek Kiwanis final by a close, 9-8 decision.
The rematch was not quite as close, as Baird took the final with a 10-4 win on points, ending Aram Villegas’ string of back-to-back titles and the chance of having two Elko brothers finish atop the heap in their respective divisions.
Senior Jake Pengelly ended his high school wrestling career with a third-place finish in the 170-pound division.
Pengelly began his tournament with a bang – defeating South No. 1 Conner Bourne of Faith Lutheran with an 8-6 decision in the quarterfinal – but he lost a close, 6-4 decision to Lowry’s Shaun Mentaberry in the semifinal.
Rebounding with a 9-6 decision over Tariq Banks of Mojave in the consolation semifinal allowed to Pengelly to wrestle for third of fourth, winning the consolation final over Spring Creek’s K-Ci Slade with a 6-3 victory on points.
Junior Luis Salazar also finished third for the Indians, doing so in the 220-pound division.
Salazar began with a tight, 7-5 victory over Arden Bundy of Mesquite in the quarterfinal, losing to Lowry’s Mikeas Somers by a score of 4-2 in an ultimate tiebreaker, which occurs after no winner is determined in the one-minute sudden victory or two 30-second tiebreaker rounds.
The wrestler who scores the first points in the ultimate tiebreaker or the wrestler who is on top at the end of the round (30 seconds if completed fully) is named the winner.
Salazar bounced back with two victories to close the tournament, surviving a close match in the consolation semifinal with a 3-1, sudden-victory win over Brennan Reese of Spring Creek and pinning his first opponent of the tournament, Tristan Deal of Moapa Valley, in the third-fourth place, consolation championship.
Elko’s other two wrestlers who qualified for the state tournament, junior David Burden at 126 pounds and 152-pound senior Tyler Vera, did not place.
Burden was pinned in the quarterfinal by Jimmy Brown of Boulder City, bouncing back 5-0 victory over Fallon’s Dylan McAfee in the consolation bracket, but Burden lost his second match of the tournament by a 15-0 tech fall to Gino Gusman of Pahrump in the consolation semifinal.
Vera’s tournament journey went exactly as Burden’s did, opening with a loss by fall to Crescent Crandall of Mesquite in the quarterfinal. Vera bounced back with a fall victory in the consolation bracket over Mojave’s Tyler Williams, but Vera lost by fall to Trevor Van Sniet of Moapa Valley in the consolation semifinal.
Congratulations to Kevin Villegas on his 113-pound state championship, all Elko wrestlers who placed and qualified for the state tournament and head coach Kelly Wintermote for wrapping up another successful season of Indians wrestling.