Going right from football to wrestling without a break was a challenge, but Izzy Casarez has been up to it.
Casarez, a senior at Reed, took a 21-5 win on Wednesday in a dual meet at McQueen. McQueen took a 55-20 win over Reed in the team score.
Casarez is coming off a third-place finish at the Sierra Nevada Classic and the Reno Tournament of Champions, two prestigious wrestling tournaments in Reno in December. He wrestled highly-ranked wrestlers from California at those tournaments.
Casarez won state at 138 pounds last year. He advanced to finals at state his first two years wrestling and is trying to win another title — this time at 152 pounds — in February.
Then, he hopes to wrestle at big-name school in college. Casarez said he has received some interest from smaller, Division II schools, moslty in Iowa, so far.
Casarez feels more confident this season than last, even at a higher weight.
Improving conditioning has been a big focus for him, saying he does not want to get tired on the mat.
“My gas tank. Building my stamina. I don’t get too tired, but I don’t even want to breathe hard,” he said.
Reed coach Mike Klapp lauded Casarez, saying he is a bully on the mat, but a leader off of it for the Raiders.
“He’s one of the best wrestlers in the state. He’s built to win at a high level,” Klapp said. “He’s an excellent wrestler on his feet. I think he can beat anybody he puts his mind to beating.”
Klapp said Casarez handled the transition from football to wrestling better this season than he did last year.
His next tournament will be the Mid-Cals in Gilroy, Calif., where he will again face some top west coast competition. He hopes that doing well there will raise his profile for college coaches and lead to a scholarship offer.
McQueen dominated most of the matches Wednesday, but Lancers coach Jeromy Mumm said there is room improvement and that the team is shorthanded as some wrestlers have not returned from injuries yet.
“We wrestled tough. We’re still working to get better. Reed’s got a tough group of kids,” Mumm said. “Once we get everyone back, we’ll be ready to go.”
Also Wednesday, Reno beat North Valleys, 72-6.
The Northern 4A Wrestling Regionals are Feb. 3-4 at Reno High.