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Shadow Ridge looks to win 1st state wrestling title

Nevada’s wrestling landscape has been dominated by two schools in the past eight years.

Green Valley won six straight state titles from 2012 to 2017, but finished second to Spanish Springs in 2018 and 2019.

Both are loaded again entering the Class 4A state tournament Friday and Saturday at Cimarron-Memorial, with Green Valley having won the Desert Region title and Spanish Springs the Northern Region crown. But it’s more than a two-team race, as Mountain Region champion Shadow Ridge has a school-record nine qualifiers, most of whom have been in this situation before.

“The good thing is all of our kids, except for one of our sophomores, have been to state and competed already,” Shadow Ridge coach Gus Gledhill said. “They know what the expectation is, what goes around, all the hoopla with it. So those first couple of years, we’ve had several placers. The goal is to place higher.”

If all goes well, Gledhill thinks the Mustangs could win their first state title. But he said Green Valley and Spanish Springs are the teams to beat again and that Mountain Region runner-up Cimarron-Memorial shouldn’t be discounted.

“We’re at a little disadvantage, because when you get to state, it’s a numbers game,” Gledhill said. “Green Valley, being on the other side (Desert Region), they have more that are going. It’s going to come down to those head-to-head matches with them.”

The Mustangs had five regional champions, including defending state champion Matthew Van Riel and two-time state runner-up Noah Gallardo.

Van Riel won the state title at 132 pounds last year, but he dropped to 126 because of an injury that caused him to lose weight and strength.

“The coaches know I probably have an easier ride at 126 because the kids at 132 are a little big for me,” Van Riel said. “But coming back, I’m confident right now. I’ve been working hard, and the team’s been working hard. I know I’m capable of doing it again.”

Noah Gallardo also dropped a weight class, from 195 to 182. He said he weighed about 185 pounds last year, which meant he was constantly wrestling opponents who were bigger and stronger.

“Now I feel like I’m one of the stronger guys,” he said.

Gledhill said his coaching staff has been together since he took the Shadow Ridge job 13 years ago, and he credits coach Ted Johnson for guiding the day-to-day practices.

“He’s the absolute wrestling guru,” Gledhill said. “He puts together some perfect practice plans. All the kids are comfortable with the knowledge that’s going around the room.”

The Mustangs also have built a team camaraderie by traveling together year-round and going to elite out-of-state tournaments.

“It’s an individual sport, but another one of our rituals is to not let your teammates down,” Gledhill said. “That’s the tough thing. When you lose a match, you need to come back on the back side (of the bracket) because you’re still a point-scorer. You’re wrestling for yourself and that title, but if you lose, you need to come back and help the team.”

Contact Jason Orts at jorts@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2936. Follow @SportsWithOrts on Twitter.

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