Moapa Valley Progress
The Moapa Valley High School Wrestling team competed in the regional tournament last weekend at Western High School in Las Vegas. It turned out to be a tough tournament with some outstanding competition. The team experienced some unexpected wins as well as some unexpected losses.
The Pirates will be taking four wrestlers to the state championship meet this Friday. They will include Zachary Anderson, Hayden Redd, Gavin Henrie and Cropper Henrie.
Pirate coaches went into the tournament confident that at least seven of their thirteen wrestlers had a good chance to emerge from the tournament in one of the top five qualifying spots and hoped all thirteen would wrestle their way in. But they knew that outcome would depend on seeding and top performances by each wrestler.
The lower weights seemed to be especially stacked this year with returning state qualifiers and placers. As a result, Austin Tafoya and Jorge Cervantes both went 1-3, just missing qualifying for state by one match.
Avery Stratton and Conner Batty also had tough brackets and ended up going 0-2.
“The improvement from all of these wrestlers throughout the year was fun to watch,” said Pirate Assistant Coach Ryan Anderson. “They all grew and performed better and better as the season progressed.”
William Uri (160) came out strong and got a quick pin against his Desert Pines opponent. He was up big on his Mojave opponent before getting caught out of position and getting pinned in the second period.
Wrestling in one of the toughest weight classes, it would be a hard road to wrestle back in the consolations. Unfortunately Cowley from Boulder City wrestled the best tournament of his career and ended up beating Will to eliminate him one match shy of qualifying for state.
In the upper weights, Ryan McMurray and Jackson Mills had selflessly wrestled above their natural weight classes all season to fill holes in the lineup. Unfortunately, that became a significant factor in the regional tournament.
Mills had battled some injuries and illness late in the season. While he was usually able to rely on his strength to overcome his size disadvantage, he wasn’t able to pull it off at the end and suffered two quick losses.
McMurray wrestled his best matches of the season and fell one match short of qualifying for state. “His win over his Desert Pines opponent in the second round of consolations was one of the most inspiring matches of the season,” Anderson said. “He came away with a well-deserved pin and inspired his teammates to step up.”
Both heavyweight wrestlers for Moapa, Alex Paulino and Weston Mortensen, had a tough tournament. They both went 0-2.
Zachary Anderson was seeded second in the tournament and ended up losing two very close matches (8-7 and 9-5) before winning his last match by fall to earn 5th place.
“Zachary always wrestles hard and fights to the end in every match,” Anderson said. “He is never an easy out and for any opponent.”
At 152 lbs, Hayden Redd wrestles in one of the most competitive weight classes in high school wrestling. He had a rough start to his tournament and had to win three matches to qualify due to having such a large bracket. After losing his first match, Hayden strung two great wins together, then lost a heartbreaker to Chaparral (6-3). Now he had to get a win against rival Virgin Valley to qualify. He did just that, pinning his opponent in the first period, earning the 5th place seed.
Gavin Henrie has been The Pirates’ most consistent wrestler this year and earned the number one seed in regionals. He received a bye the first round and faced an extremely strong and well-coached Mekhi Brown from Mojave in the second round. Henrie wrestled a fundamentally sound, workmanlike match and won by decision (7-1) to put him in the finals.
Unfortunately Henrie wasn’t quite able to solve the chess match against Alexander Herrera from Sunrise Mountain. Gavin ended up as the top seed for the Pirates taking 2nd place in regionals.
“Gavin is really looking forward to meeting up with Herrera again in state where he is confident he’ll be able to do what it takes to beat him when it counts,” Anderson said.
Perhaps the best performance of the tournament on an individual level came from Cropper Henrie, a freshman wrestling at 182 lbs against mostly upperclassmen. Cropper was immediately thrown to the wolves this year in a varsity position due to the low numbers on the team. He didn’t have much success at all at the beginning of the season. But he stuck with it and began winning some small victories within matches.
Those small victories paid off last weekend as Cropper found himself coming back from a first round loss to pin his next two opponents (both from Desert Pines), lose a tough match against Clary from Boulder City, then battle back again in a must-win match and pin his Del Sol opponent to win 5th place and a trip to the state tournament as a freshman.
The state championships will be held this Friday, Feb. 9 at The Orleans arena in Las Vegas. The tournament is a one-day event this year. Please come and cheer on your state qualifiers as they culminate a great season.