Reece Thornton, an eighth grader at Pahranagat Valley Middle School, has become the first, at least the first boy in recent memory, from Lincoln County to win a Nevada state middle school wrestling championship.
He did it Feb. 21 at the USA Nevada Folkstyle Wrestling Championships held at the Star of the Desert Arena at Buffalo Bill’s casino in Primm. It was the day after the NIAA state wrestling championships at the same venue. Over 700 participants were on hand.
Thornton’s coach Brad Loveday, PVHS wrestling coach, said he has had some other wrestlers who have thought about entering the tournament in the past, but did not do it.
Thornton said he entered because he was a member of the Premier League for pre-high school students and, “I felt it was a good opportunity to wrestle some new kids and have a chance to wrestle in a state tournament before high school.” Thornton will be a freshman at PVHS in the fall. Placed in the 190-pound bracket that had five wrestlers, his first match was against Setriano Piroddi of the Nomads Wrestling Club in Fernley. He won that match by pin.
The semifinal match was against Faafetai Tuinei of Las Vegas. “That was my toughest match,” said Thornton, “because it went right to the end, and I finally pinned him with three seconds left in the match, although I was ahead 4-2 on points.
It was a particularly satisfying win because Tuinei had pinned Thornton earlier in the season. “Coach and I worked and worked to get stronger and develop better technique, and I was glad for this second opportunity,” he said.
The championship match was against Sam Norris of North Las Vegas, and it was over quickly, in 45 seconds of the first round. “I have wrestled Sam about five times this year, and pinned him every time, and this was no different.”
Thornton said he had sprained his ankle in the semifinal match and Norris saw him being taped up before their finals match. “He made a move on me right away, but I dropped down, put him in a headlock, worked him to his back and it was done.”