The Ely Times

White Pine High wrestlers were at the 2A Southern League Duals Jan. 24, a tune up for the regional tournament at Indian Springs this Friday and Saturday.

The reason the duals are a tune up is to prepare the seeding for the regional tournament to follow. The state tournament is Feb. 8-9 in Winnemucca.

Bobcat coach Mark Dolezal said the importance of the duals are that “if you don’t do well there, it makes it difficult to place at regionals.”

But the Bobcats did well at the duals, going 22-2 in their matches and ending up with four No. 1 seeds and two No. 2 seeds.

Eric Pickens (152), the defending state champion, Zeke Vinson (170), Nathanial Dolezal (195) and Sebastian Lyons all were 4-0 on the day. Luke Finicum (160) and Kegan Hexem (220) ended up at 3-1 and received the No. 2 seed.

Hexem’s weight class had the most interesting finish Dolezal noted  Each one of the wrestlers, Hexem, Tayt Leavitt (Pahranagat Valley) and Kevin Pope (Tonopah), the defending state champion, all finished with 3-1 records. “We ended up selecting the top seed with a coin toss.”

Three times this had to happen before Pope came out as the No. 1 seed and Hexem the No. 2. 

Dolezal said, “But the No. 2 seed may be the best of the three because No. 1 and No. 2 are on the same side of the regional bracket, one will be out before the finals.”

Prior to going to the Southern duals, White Pine was at the Milford Duals along with Diamond Ranch High School of Hurricane Jan. 23.   

Dolezal said the team was 9-2 in individual matches. “Eric Pickens, Luke Finicum and Kegan Hexem won both of theirs. Eric dominated at both 145 and 152 pound weights, Luke and Kegan had two wins, both by fall. Nathanial was 1-1 and Vinson lost his match to one of Milford’s best wrestlers. Nathanial pushed his opponent to near the limit before losing, but he pinned his man from Diamond Ranch in the first round in his next match.”

For Dolezal and Lyons getting the No. 1 seed into the regional tournament is a major accomplishment. Dolezal is a freshman and Lyons was out last year with illness.

Coach Dolezal said, “Here at regionals, we’ll be seeing most of the southern teams, [Pahranagat Valley, Lincoln County, West Wendover, The Meadows, Spring Mountain, Tonopah,.etc.] for the first time this year. We have had many of our meets with quality teams in Utah and now we’ll see if this pays off.”

The top four finishers in each weight at regionals advance to the state tournament in Winnemucca.