Reno High wrestler Joey Lavallee could count on two things during his high school matches: His father, Joe, being in attendance and a victory.
This season, the wins kept on coming, but dad wasn’t always there.
“That killed me not being able to watch his wrestling,” Joe Lavallee said. “But my work called me out.”
Joe Lavallee was in California during weekdays and absent from most competitions. But he was able to watch his son’s final high school duel. It was a win, giving Joey Lavallee four straight Division I state titles.
Lavallee is the 2012-13 RGJ All-North Division I Wrestler of the Year after going 204-12 during his career and 52-3 this season. Lavallee was only the seventh Nevada wrestler to win four straight state titles, and he is headed to Missouri to wrestle next season.
“He broke every (school) record for wins that ever existed, I can guarantee you that,” Reno coach Jeff Tomac said. “I think he’s the best wrestler to ever leave the state of Nevada thus far.”
The 145-pound Lavallee spent the year dominating Northern Nevada, going undefeated against wrestlers in the state. He had just one loss in his four-year career to a Nevada wrestler, and it came during his freshman season.
Dozens of colleges courted the 18-year-old wrestler, including Oregon State, Iowa State and Missouri.
During that stressful process, Lavallee called his father every day.
The relationship between a father and son is important, but perhaps even more so for the Lavallees. Over the phone they discussed what was done at practice, Joey’s mind-set heading into the upcoming match and how the recruiting process was going.
“It was actually really tough,” Joey Lavallee said. “He was always there for me helping out. We would talk about stuff that was happening with wrestling.”
Tomac said Lavallee was able to become a better leader throughout the process with his dad away.
“Joey had to take on a different role in his own home and wasn’t as connected to his dad like he’d been the last 17 years,” Tomac said. “I don’t know if it was a bad thing, but it was a different thing. It required Joey to grow up in a different way. He figured out how to be a leader in the wrestling room.”