DALLAS — Dallas High School sophomore Haydn Millard made school history on April 7.
He became the first DHS wrestler to take a first-place title at 120 pounds at the Reno Worlds Tournament, a weekend-long event that sees over 38 states represented, with age groups from 6-years-old to 18-years-old.
A few other Dallas Dragons joined Millard in the competition: senior Jacob Jones, who clinched third place at 152, senior Austin Brecht, who settled for fifth place at 285; Kadin Thorsted and Dillon Stuhr wrestled, but didn’t place.
LaCreole middle-schoolers Thomas Talmadge, Andrew Craven, Jose Romero and Isaac Jones competed in their middle-school brackets, and didn’t place.
Millard said he’s been going to the Reno Worlds Tournament for four years, which takes place at the Reno Livestock Event Center in Reno, Nevada.
“My first year I went, I lost my first (round), won my second and lost my third, so I didn’t place,” Millard said. “And then the past two years, I’ve lost in the blood round, both times, and this year I won it.”
Head middle-school coach Austin Markee has been taking a group of kids to the tournament for about four years, he said.
“We have never had anyone win the tournament before,” Markee said. “I was excited. He (Millard) was one of the first matches that day, so that was pretty cool.”
Millard said it felt really good to win the tournament in his weight bracket.
“When I was in my match, it just felt like another match to me,” he said, “so that’s how I went in, with the mindset of, it’s just another match, so I didn’t psych myself out. I’m always nervous for my first match, because it’s the first match of the tournament or the day, and getting that match out of the way is always a relief. Especially coming out with a win, for my first match, that gives me a boost of confidence going into the rest of the tournament.”
At the end of the high-school and middle-school wrestling seasons, Markee said he asks if anyone is interested in competing at Reno Worlds.
“I ask at the end of the season who’s interested in going, and I’ll book hotel rooms, and they help pay for that,” Markee said. “It’s kind of a ‘who wants to go’ type of thing.”
The tournament lasts from April 5-7. The younger kids wrestle from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and the high-schoolers step onto the mats from 4 to 10 p.m.
Matches last all day on Friday and Saturday, with only one match on Sunday.
“There’s always a bunch of tough kids there,” Markee said. “You always get good matches there. The reason that I want to take kids to something like this is it’s in a similar building to what state’s in. It’s a really big building with a lot of mats, and you’re in a really big bracket with a lot of tough kids. Just getting more tough matches later in the year.
“I want them to go there and compete and win matches, but what’s cooler is we have a whole bunch of kids wrestling in April.”
Millard compared this tournament to the state tournament in the regular wrestling season.
“It’s the same style (of wrestling), but there’s kids from other states, so it was a really tough competition,” he said.
Once the regular wrestling season is over, most wrestlers are ragged and tired from four months or more of training, cutting weight and competing. So to continue wrestling after such a long season is tough.
Markee said that’s what makes those who do come out better wrestlers.
“Everything we do is to get ready for our regular season,” he said. “(Reno Worlds) is like a practice run. It’s going to another big tournament, getting in a lot of matches; it’s all about how many matches you can get. I like having kids wrestle in April. I don’t think a lot of teams have kids wrestling in April, and that’s honestly more of the reason why I started doing it than anything. Getting people in our room, keeping them busy, because that’s what’s going to get you better.”