On Saturday, Jesse Jones, Chris Thornton, Reece Thornton, and Jon Stewart each won individual titles and sent Pahranagat Valley’s wrestling team to the Class 2A Southern Region championship at Laughlin.
It’s the first region title for the Panthers since 2008. That year they were state runner-up to seven-time defending champion Battle Mountain.
Coach Brad Loveday said, “It’s been a while for us. It’s tough to win team titles, such a small school as we are. We’ve got some good, experienced kids though, and they did really well, doing what I thought they could do.
All four of our wrestlers in the consolation bracket finished at least in fourth place to qualify for state.”
This is also the first time the Panthers qualified all their members to the state meet. Loveday said, “That was the reason we could win it with only nine kids, because everybody did well and contributed to the team points.”
Last year, as a team, PVHS finished fourth at regionals, with 116 points, and placed tenth at state in 2017, with 40 points.
At regionals this year, Jones won the 132-pound title. Next, the Thornton brothers, Chris (182) and Reece (195), followed by Jon Stewart (285), spearheaded a late charge by the Panthers, who finished with 168.5 points to nose out Tonopah for first place. The Muckers, who also had four first-place finishers, had 156 points. Spring Mountain was third, with 146, followed by White Pine, with 137.
Freshman Hagan Harris (106) began the regional tournament for Pahranagat. In a four-man bracket, he first lost to Devin Arnold, of Spring Mountain, but then pinned Aden Miller, of Lincoln County, for third place.
113-pound Salvador Heredia won his first match over Austin Marshall, of Lincoln County, then had to retire due to a collarbone injury suffered in a match against Damian Paice, of Tonopah. Heredia had to forfeit the finals match, and may not be able to attend the state meet.
Jesse Jones (132), who just returned to the Pahranagat lineup following a football injury, won his weight class with a first-round decision against Camden Pearson, of Indian Springs, then by pin over both Eduardo Piceno, of Spring Mountain, and Brian Fosset, of Tonopah.
Garrett Bowen (160) won his first match against C.T. Nance, of Laughlin. He then lost in the semifinals on a 10-3 decision to Sven Pickens, of White Pine, but won his consolation semifinal over Mathew Melendrez, of Tonopah, and took third place by pin over West Wendover’s Colten Hernandez.
Jonathan Dillingham (170) won his quarterfinal match by a 14-3 decision over Tristan LaCombe, of West Wendover, then lost the semifinal match to Hunter Auschwitz, of Lake Mead.
In the consolation semifinal, Dillingham pinned Tonopah’s Chris McColough and finished fourth place after losing to Justin Mabson, of White Pine.
Chris Thornton (182) won all his matches for the Panthers, the first two by fall over West Wendover’s Kodi Cook and Spring Mountain’s William Hubbard, then a 6-3 decision over Zeke Vinson, of White Pine.
Reece Thornton (195) received a bye in the first round, but eventually won the weight class with pins over Lake Mead’s Bryan White and Kegan Hexem, of White Pine.
Tayt Leavitt (220) took a third-place medal for Pahranagat. He lost his first match to White Pine’s Jorge Chamorro on a 7-6 decision, but won his consolation matches over Spring Mountain’s Chase Omaya and Laughlin’s Matthew Shepard.
Jon Stewart (285) won both of his matches by fall over Tyrell Gonzalez, of Laughlin, and Avion Newmon, of Spring Mountain.
Lincoln County’s Ben Culverwell (120) was the Lynx’s only first-place finisher.
He won his first match by forfeit, then pinned the next two opponents, Laughlin’s Damian Chidester and Lincoln County’s Jordan Free.
Others wrestlers for Lincoln County qualifying for state were Aiden Miller (106) fourth place; Austin Marshall (113) third place; Jordan Free (120) second place; and Kyle Zierow (145) fourth place.
The top four finishers in each weight class advanced to the state tournament at the Orleans Arena.