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Why Nevada’s high school state wrestling meet is in Arizona

Updated February 16, 2024 - 11:45 am

Green Valley wrestling coach Michael Almodovar answers twice when asked where the Nevada high school state wrestling meet will be.

People tend not to believe him the first time.

“It’s kind of crazy when you talk about it — the Nevada state championship is in Arizona,” Almodovar said.

It’s no mistake. The Nevada high school state wrestling meet will be held Friday at the Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse in Bullhead City, Arizona.

The venue is a 126,500 square-foot indoor multisport facility. It has stadium-bleacher seating of 4,500 around the turf field and can host football and soccer games. Wrestling mats will be spread around the field for all matches Friday.

It will mark the first time in Nevada history that all classes — 5A, 4A, 3A and 2A, along with the girls invitational — will have their state tournament in the same venue on the same day.

More than 650 wrestlers qualified for the event.

“I’m just excited that it’s a big venue compared to what we’re used to where it’s usually been at a high school,” Almodovar said. “That’ll be exciting. I think the kids will be excited about that and a little fired up that it’s at a nice venue and big arena.”

Bullhead City is in the Mountain time zone. The day will start early with a 7:30 a.m. coaches meeting and weigh-ins at 8:30 a.m. The first matches will take place at 9:30 a.m., according to the event schedule on the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association website.

“We’re OK with long days,” SLAM Academy co-coach Zach Hocker said. “We know that the people that are setting this up did everything possible to get us a venue in Las Vegas. Obviously, that would have been ideal. We’ve been all over the country, so we don’t see it as any different than any other tournament.”

SLAM Academy, Green Valley and many other Southern Nevada teams made the trip Thursday afternoon to stay in Bullhead City or neighboring Laughlin. The fieldhouse was open for more than four hours Thursday for teams to get acclimated to the venue.

“It’s a pretty special event. … It was either we crossed the river and went to Arizona or we have different high schools that just would kind of take away from it being a state tournament,” SLAM Academy co-coach Jake Rollans said. “I think it is really important that it’s all under one roof so that everybody can enjoy all of Nevada wrestling all in the same place.”

SLAM Academy, which has won the last two 5A state titles, rolled to the 5A Southern Region title. It scored 315 points, with seven wrestlers winning individual titles at the region meet Feb. 9 and 10.

Green Valley finished second with 173 points and Shadow Ridge was third with 172½ points.

SLAM Academy returns most of its team from last season. Northern champion Spanish Springs finished second to the Bulls the last two seasons.

“Our kids are ready,” Hocker said. “We’re looking for them to do their best and if they do their best, I don’t think anybody can stop them.”

Almodovar said McQueen and Shadow Ridge will be other contenders in 5A.

“In the 5A division, it’s tough,” Almodovar said. “You have so many teams in the Southern section and even looking up to the North, they have so many teams that are tough. We can’t take anybody lightly. … It should be a pretty good tournament.”

In 4A, Silverado rolled to the Desert League title Feb. 10. Sierra Vista claimed the Mountain League title the same day.

SLAM Academy claimed the girls team title at the Southern qualifier by one point over Centennial (196-195) on Feb. 3. It’s the second year the NIAA will have a girls invitational at the state tournament.

“Girls wrestling is really propelling boys wrestling right now,” Hocker said. “We’re growing hand in hand. We get more participation from the boys than we ever have. I think the sport in general is growing because the girls are now a part of it. It’s really neat to see.”

Note: Due to the state wrestling meet expected to finish after the Review-Journal’s print deadline, results will appear in Sunday’s paper.

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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