Nyssa's Jose Sanchez, pictured in this file photo, placed fourth in the 220-pound weight class at the Sierra Nevada Classic in Reno last week. (The Enterprise/File photo)
RENO — When the mats were rolled up and the competitors of the Sierra Nevada Classic in Reno cleared out, the Nyssa Bulldogs wrestling team had plenty to be proud of against some of the top competitors in the West.
Of the 85 teams from different states featured at the post-holiday action at the Reno Livestock Events Center, the Bulldogs wound up in 26th place with 67 points. Two Bulldogs finished in the top four at the tournament.
Among a field of more than 770 athletes, 220-pound senior Jose Sanchez had a first-round bye, then cruised through his three matches on the first day of the high-caliber tournament on Thursday, advancing to Friday’s action.
A two-time defending 3A state champion, Sanchez lost a 9-4 decision in the semifinal round to Bishop Amat’s Guillermo Escobedo, who placed sixth in California state championships last season.
Awaiting Sanchez for the third-place spot was top-ranked Keith Brown out of Portland. Sanchez lost by a 3-2 decision to drop to take home fourth.
Meanwhile, 152-pound junior Elijah Cleaver continued to build off the momentum he had from his first-place finish at the Adrian Irwin Tournament the previous week by advancing to the Sierra Nevada Classic quarterfinals on Friday.
In his opener, Cleaver took down Manuel Infante of Napa Valley within 21 seconds before pinning his next two opponents until the quarterfinals, where he lost a 5-1 decision to Bishop Amat’s Juan Lopez, dropping to the consolation bracket.
Cleaver reached the match for third, but lost a tiebreaker to Jed Campos of Del Oro to finish fourth.
Cleaver closed the classic with a 19-2 mark, booking four of his six victories with pins.
At 195 pounds, Bulldogs sophomore Bryan Flores fell one win short of earning a placing finish – closing with a 13-5 record and scoring 14 team points.
Flores tallied each of his four wins during the tournament by pin.
Nyssa’s 126-pound Raul Ruiz closed with a record of 10-7 but did not place.
Just the week before, the Bulldogs finished eighth with 147 team points at the Adrian Irwin Memorial Tournament in Redmond, where 19 teams competed.
Cleaver and Sanchez each scored 32 points for the team at the tournament, finishing first place in their respective weight classes. Raul Ruiz (134 pounds), Bryan Flores (197 pounds) and Marlin Miles (287 pounds) each placed third.
The Bulldogs will compete this Friday and Saturday at the Rollie Lane Wrestling Tournament at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa.
Reporter Kristine de Leon: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.