Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Reno Tournament of Champions Review


Jore Volk With Huge Upset To Win 125 lbs RENO Title

125 lbs just keeps getting more and more interesting doesn't it?  The over/under by March ought to be interesting.  Jore Volk, a  wrestler who continuously finds ways to improve, wrestled very well here in Nevada.  Defeated #1 Richard Figueroa of Arizona State 6-4 in the finals.  Figueroa had a good match with Oklahoma's Conrad Hendrickson of Oklahoma in the semi-finals, defeating the young Sooner 7-4.  I was surprised as well as Grand View's Aden Reeves wrestled Volk in the quarters, that he didn't come back to place 5th or 6th.  It was a reversal that won Volk the match in a 3-1 score. 

Son of Arizona State Legend Wins 133 lbs RENO Title

I guess I'm officially old now.  I can remember watching Kyle Larkin's dad win all four of his All American honors during college.  It honestly doesn't even feel like it was that long ago when Eric Larkin won the NCAA title.  I guess I was a junior in high school & that was nearly 21 years ago.  Man does time fly by.  Now here we are watching Eric's son, still in high school winning a RENO tournament of Champions title, in the collegiate division.  A 13-3 major decision over Garrett Ricks of Wyoming in the Semis, he then defeated Adrian Meza, another high school standout 14-2 in the finals.  Meza himself had an extremely impressive 0:58 fall over Grand View's NAIA finalist Carson Taylor.  Taylor came back to pin Ricks himself at 1:54 into the first period. 

Oklahoma Redshirt Wins 141 lbs RENO Title 

I commented heavily at the beginning of the season of how Oklahoma was doing a great job on the transferring side of the equation, getting in a ton of studs from other schools.  From the looks of it, they have also done quite good on the recruiting front.  K.J. Evans won a RENO title with a hard fought 2-1 decision over Haiden Drury of Utah Valley in the finals. 

Blake Gonzalez Pulls Off Two Huge Victories To Win the NAIA It's Only RENO Title of the Tournament

I was very impressed with how well Blake Gonzalez wrestled here at RENO.  Pulls off a huge 13-10 win over Wyoming's Gabe Willochell in the semis & then tops it off with a 4-2 victory over Willie McDougald of Oklahoma in the finals.  What an impressive showing for the Viking, representing the NAIA in one of DI's most prestigious events of the regular season.  McDougald himself defeated San Francisco State's Lawrence Saenz 5-2 in the semis & then Willochell came back to take third by pinning Saenz at the 6:18 mark. 

Hard Fought Victory For Jared Hill As He Wins 157 RENO Title 

Jared Hill wrestled a smart and calculated match to take a 2-1 decision over Oregon State's Isaiah Crosby in the finals. Hill was an NCAA qualifier for the Sooners last season. 

Sun Devil Redshirt Freshman With a RENO Title at 165 lbs 

It really goes to show just how good some of these recruits are straight out of high school. (Or in the case of Larkin & Meza, while still in high school!).   Nicco Ruiz was coached by the Valencia's father while in high school  & it was more than apparent with how well he wrestled this tournament.  Knocking off Cael Carlson 5-2 in the semi-finals, then then defeated Mannix Morgan 8-1 in the finals. Wouldn't be at all surprised if Ruiz takes over the starting spot for Arizona State next season & has an immediate impact. 

Tate Picklo Holds On To Varsity Position While Claiming RENO 174 lbs Title

In what might as well be considered another wrestle-off between two talented Sooners, Tate Picklo held on to the varsity position by defeating teammate Gerrit Nijenhuis 4-1 in the finals. I talk a lot about how difficult it can be just to make a lineup & the saga between these two gifted wrestlers is proof of it. 

Jacob Armstrong Picks Up RENO Title For Utah Valley at 184 lbs

Pinning Oklahoma's Giuseppe Hoose at 1:52 in the finals, Jacob Armstrong then defeated NAIA challenger Isaiah Luellen 8-3 in the finals. Armstrong is a senior who has yet to make the NCAA DI national tournament. Winning RENO like this ought to give the Wolverine a boost of confidence as he heads into the rest of the season & prepares himself for the BIG 12 championships. 

Stephen Buchanan Demonstrates Why He's NCAA DI Champ Material, winning RENO 197 lbs Title

Stephen Buchanan came in and just dominated the field at 197 lbs.  An 18-2 technical fall over NAIA national champ Owen Braungardt of Grand View.  He then defeated true freshman Joey Novak of his former team Wyoming, 11-4 in the finals.  True freshman Justin Rademacher of Oregon State, then when an impressive 7-2 decision over Braungardt for 3rd place.  This won't be the only big tournament Buchanan wins this year. 

Wyatt Hendrickson Wins RENO HWT Title 

I was very surprised to see Hendrickson in this bracket. I'd love to know the story behind why he was here wrestling in RENO & why the rest of the team was in a dual against Missouri. It's nothing more than curiosity on my part, but I'd like to know what goes into these decisions. What makes a coach decide, I'll send one wrestler out to RENO. I think it's little stories like these that we aren't privy to in wrestling, that would actually make our sport more interesting to outsiders. Regardless of the reasoning, Wyatt Hendrickson totally dominated the field.  Took him all of 19 seconds to pin K.C. Buday of Providence in the semis & then he scored a major decision 15-4 over Josh Heindselman of Oklahoma in the finals.  I will say that I was impressed with how well Grand View's Greg Hagan wrestled Heindselman in the semis himself.  Took the Sooner to a 2-1 decision.  I consider that to be pretty impressive considering Heindselman is AA material in his own right.  Hagan then defeated Buday 4-1 in the consolation finals for 3rd. 

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