The championship round of last weekend’s Class 4A Sunrise Region tournament looked a lot like an exercise in dominance by Green Valley. In 14 weight classes, the Gators placed 13 wrestlers in the finals and crowned 10 champions.
Foothill was not nearly as dominant, finishing a distant third to the powerhouse Gators and runner-up Las Vegas High. But the Falcons have Wyatt English, and in the 138-pound weight class, that was all they needed to compete with Green Valley.
After the junior’s region championship match Saturday — a 4-2 decision over Green Valley’s Desmond Bowers — he was ready for the only thing he has left to accomplish.
“It’s satisfying, but it’s not as satisfying as if I won a state title,” English said.
He will get that chance this weekend in the Class 4A state tournament at Spanish Springs High School in Sparks. Action begins in classes 4A, 3A and 2A/1A at 12:45 p.m. Friday and resumes at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. The finals are scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
English came close to winning the title last season. He rolled through the Sunrise Region tournament, then picked up pinfall victories in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the state tournament before losing a 13-5 major decision in the championship.
Now he’s right back where he wants to be, even if it’s not the way he would have preferred. English said Saturday’s title match was not his greatest performance. His coach called it “defensive,” and English admitted when he saw the score and the short time left on the clock, his top priority was not to get taken down and allow Bowers to tie the match. English was even warned for stalling in the final seconds.
That type of wrestling does not fit his modus operandi. He gained a victory by fall in the quarterfinals Friday in 2:19, and his semifinal match lasted 43 seconds.
“I was going to ride this one out,” English said with a smirk. “I was definitely not trying to take any chances.”
The Falcons have three individual state championships in program history: Josh Ozuna at 220 pounds in 2015, and Sean Miller at 103 pounds in 2010 and 2011. This weekend they will have two chances to bring home gold with English and sophomore Robert Silva, who finished third Saturday at 106 pounds.
“I never thought I’d make it this far, it’s crazy,” Silva said. “I’m excited, I’m nervous. I think it will be a good experience.”
Silva is in only his second year wrestling and entered the region tournament last season as an extra for Foothill at 106 pounds. Even though he was the varsity wrestler this season, he wasn’t sure how good he was and took his coach’s words to heart.
“He lacked confidence, and I told him, ‘Look, you’re good enough to go,’” said coach Ryan English, Wyatt’s father. “I expect him to up there, and it will be a good learning experience for him.”
Silva will be an underdog this weekend, but Ryan English said the experience will prepare Silva to be a true contender in his junior and senior years. Wyatt English, on the other hand, earned the top seed at state.
“Last year I was OK with a region title, but I’m not feeling too much emotion right now,” Wyatt English said after his match. “I’m happy, yes, but I want more.”