Heading into the season, Laughlin wrestling coach Ben Fermon said the Cougars were “looking forward to re-establishing ourselves as one of the top teams in Southern Nevada.”
The Cougars have accomplished that, winning their second Class 2A Southern League title in the past three seasons with a dominant showing in their own gym last weekend.
Now, Fermon believes they have the potential to dethrone eight-time defending 2A state champion Battle Mountain. They’ll get their chance when the state meet begins at 3 p.m. Friday at the Winnemucca Events Center.
“I feel this is it,” Fermon said. “We have a real strong senior group.”
Laughlin advanced eight scoring wrestlers to state, including league champions Corey Cook (140 pounds), Allen Layno (215) and heavyweight Jamie Volker.
“When you look at those three winning (league) championships, we feel good,” Fermon said. “We’re looking forward to what those kids can do after a good week of practice and bringing the other six with them.”
The Cougars also will be represented at state by Eric Carasco (112), Richard Camargo (135), Doug Stickel (152), Christian Kruse (160) and Jimmy Stout (189). Adrian Soriano (189) will compete as an independent.
The last team other than Battle Mountain to win a 2A state title was The Meadows in 2000. Battle Mountain has 11 scoring wrestlers in this year’s meet.
But Fermon said his wrestlers feel capable of dethroning the Longhorns.
“They have the confidence in themselves,” he said. “That’s where they’re at.”
Led by league champion Derrek Oliver (160), Indian Springs has eight wrestlers in the meet.
Also in the hunt should be White Pine and The Meadows, which had three league champions apiece.
In 3A, Boulder City also will be looking to knock off a perennial Northern Nevada power.
Spring Creek won consecutive 3A titles from 2004 to 2007, and Boulder City coach Kevin Ruth expects the Spartans to contend once again. Pahrump Valley, now in 4A, won last year’s championship.
“Lowry and Spring Creek are the two teams to beat,” said Ruth, whose team won its first Southern League title in more than a decade last week. “Hopefully we can have a good week like we did last week, mix it up and make something happen.”
The Eagles will be represented by league champions Johnny Garcia (125), Allen Haines (130), Spencer Sasarita (145), Steven Kaposta (152), Frankie Badgely (160), Jake Thormodsgaard (171) and heavyweight Kyle Erickson.
“We only have one senior,” Ruth said, referring to Sasarita. “It’s real exciting being young and having the success we’re having.”
Despite the youthful roster, Ruth said leadership has not been lacking.
“We have great leadership,” he said. “We ended the season with 38 kids. It’s starting to catch on at the school.”
Ruth’s goal is for the Eagles to finish in the top three at state, but he doesn’t put a championship past them.
“Hopefully we can bring the title back south,” he said.