Spanish Springs will host perennial High Desert League power Fallon Saturday around 11:30 a.m. The winner has the inside track to an HDL dual meet championship.
In addition, Spanish Springs will be looking to snap Fallon’s 42-match win streak in league duals. With the Greenwave moving to the Sierra League next school year, and the Cougars staying put in the HDL, it will be the local school’s last chance to knock off its foe from Churchill County in a meaningful match.
“The kids seem pretty focused,” second-year Spanish Springs wrestling coach Joe Imelli said. “You don’t see so much excitement as you see that they have kind of have a “want-to,” — a want to see where they’re at. They want a chance to knock off the best. They have taken a pretty mature approach to it. They aren’t doing a lot of talking. They’re just doing the work.”
A year ago, Spanish Springs was in prime position to snap the Greennwave’s winning streak, which dates back more than six seasons. The SSHS grapplers took a one-point lead into the final match of the meet at Fallon, but dropped the last match and the team dual.
Both teams have been impressive through the first six weeks of the winter campaign. Spanish Springs is 15-6 overall and 3-0 in HDL duals while Fallon is 12-2 overall and 5-0 in conference duals.
So can the Cougars actually pull off the upset and stake claim to the first league wrestling title in the school’s brief seven-year history?
“They graduated a few kids off last year’s team. We graduated two,” Imelli said. “We’re definitely in a situation where we can challenge for that top spot.
“Up and down the lineup, they have some legitimate kids that can flat-out wrestle. They have some very good kids. The biggest thing for us is where they don’t have those absolute studs, we need to win. And where we do match up with those top kids, we need to wrestle to the best of our ability and not get pinned. We need to bust our butts to make them earn everything.”
The Spanish Springs wrestlers are competing at a high level. The Cougars go into Saturday’s tilt with plenty of positive momentum. Spanish Springs won last weekend’s Windsor, Calif. King of the Mat tournament, besting foes from Northern California and the Bay Area en route to victory.
Cougar coaches and wrestlers believe their recent winning ways can only help when the whistle blows Saturday.
“We’re definitely wrestling a lot better. Early on, we put a lot of mat time toward learning moves and going over moves. Lately, we’ve tried to pick things up. A lot of the learning process is done. Now it’s working to perfect technique, getting things better and more crisp,” Imelli said. “The kids wrestled a lot of more crisp last weekend. The success has come along lately because of the work we put in early in the season.”