The Reno Tournament of Champions is dubbed the “Toughest Tournament in the Nation” for good reason. As a destination contest for 118 schools from across the country, RTOC consists of 64-person brackets in each weight class and runs for three days on 13 mats until the field is narrowed down to the best of the nation’s best.
Hood River Valley High School wrestlers made the trip to the tournament last weekend for the first time with coach Trent Kroll and the second in school history. And, like its name promises, the tournament proved to be a true test of grit for the Eagle program.
“At the beginning of the tournament the kids walk into the arena with big wide eyes,” Kroll said. “That’s the reaction we want to eliminate by the time we get to state. We want to get the overwhelming factor out of the way so state feels like just another tournament.”
By the final day of wrestling, senior heavyweight Brandon Dominguez was the only HRV wrestler left in the tournament. Dominguez, cleared for competition after a head injury a few weeks ago, battled through five rounds of his bracket to make it to the finals against third-seed Zach Dawe of Pleasant Grove, Calif. Dominguez had a bye in the first round, then picked up four straight pins before getting pinned in the finals to finish second overall.
The finish gives Dominguez All-American status; an honor the top three in each weight class earn.
“Brandon is going to be a force in the conference and the state this season,” Kroll said. “Nick Morgan also had a great tournament. He was one match away from placing.”
Wrestling at 195 pounds, Morgan had a bye in the first round, won the second round match with a first-round pin and won the third with a 5-3 decision before losing by technical fall against first-seed and eventual tournament winner Jeramy Sweany of Vacaville, Calif.. The loss bumped Morgan into the consolation bracket, where he was eliminated in a tough 9-5 decision.
“With such big brackets, once you lose a match it’s a long climb back up to the podium,” Kroll said. “It’s what we call a meat grinder.”
n Up next: HRV wrestling travels to Lebanon this weekend and Westview next weekend for tournaments. The team’s league schedule starts Jan. 11 with a dual at Pendleton. The team returns home Jan. 16 to host Hermiston (time TBA).
n In the college division of RTOC, HRVHS alumni Lucas Mondragon went 2-2 for the Oregon State Beavers. Mondragon, a 197-pound junior, graduated from Hood River in 2010 and is majoring in business management with a minor in philosophy.