Roosevelt Smith knew there was more than a title on the line in the 182-pound final at the Division I state wrestling tournament.
Smith had the chance to be a pioneer for Pioneers wrestling.
“I knew walking into the match what was at stake,” he said.
Smith, a senior at Canyon Springs, made history Saturday in Primm by becoming the first wrestler from the 10-year-old school to capture a state title when he edged Elvin Cruz of Shadow Ridge 6-5.
And the gravity of the moment was not lost on the Pioneers’ standout minutes after his match.
“This is the start of a tradition,” Smith said. “Now the younger guys will see that and want to become a state champion, too.”
Smith was one of two wrestlers from Canyon Springs to reach the state finals, and the Pioneers finished 13th with 36 points. Smith took the mat at Star of the Desert Arena shortly after teammate Antonio Alcala dropped a 3-1 decision to Terry Mason of Reno in the 170-pound final.
Smith grinded out decisions in his first two matches at state and was in control of the title match midway through the third period before Cruz escaped and got a takedown with 30 seconds, knotting the score at 4. But Smith scored a reversal in the final 10 seconds to pull out the narrow win.
“I came into the tournament unknown,” Smith said. “I pushed myself to every limit I had.”
As a sophomore, Smith missed out on qualifying for the state tournament, finishing fourth in the Sunrise Region tournament at 152 pounds. Last season, Smith lost in the Sunrise Region semifinals at the same weight class and lost again in the third-place bracket.
Smith moved up three weight classes for his senior season and went undefeated against in-state competition while finishing 42-3 overall.
More important, he blazed a trail for future Pioneers wrestlers.
“I want to start a legacy that will live on forever,” Smith said.
■ COACHING UPDATE — Former Virgin Valley football coach Chris Sawyers, who guided the Bulldogs to the postseason in his two seasons at the school, was named the coach at Sunrise Mountain.
Sawyers, 37, takes over a Sunrise Mountain program with two on-field varsity wins in five years. The Miners are coming off a 1-8 season in 2013, including a 60-28 loss in the finale against Virgin Valley.
Sawyers resigned last month at Virgin Valley, where he was 13-8 overall. Sawyers said at the time that his wife was expecting the couple’s first child and they were moving to Las Vegas to be closer to family.
In girls basketball, Roger Hansen is retiring as Valley’s coach after four seasons. The Vikings finished 14-8 this season and advanced to the Sunrise Region tournament every year under Hansen.
■ MUSOVSKI HONORED — Liberty senior forward Danny Musovski was selected the Gatorade Nevada Boys Soccer Player of the Year for the second straight season.
Musovski, who signed with UNLV, broke his own state record with 58 goals as a senior and is the state’s all-time leading scorer in the large-school division with 139 goals.
Musovski is eligible for the national award to be announced in May.
■ RECENT COMMITMENTS — Palo Verde senior Rachael Turner to Hawaii, Palo Verde junior Dejanae Gage to Southern University (La.) and Foothill sophomore Sarah Maddox to Texas Tech for softball. ... Green Valley senior Donovan Peek to Army for wrestling. ... Arbor View seniors Lonnie Sharpe and Anthony Smith to Victor Valley College (Calif.) for football.
Reporter Bartt Davis contributed to this report. Contact reporter David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.