The Reno Tournament of Champions, one of the toughest wrestling tournaments in the United States, concluded the weekend of Dec 16-18 in the northern Nevada city. Because of its difficulty level, any participating high school or college wrestler who earns a top three place-finish receives All- American recognition.
Granite Hills junior Collin Guffey fits that bill to a tee after winning his 150-pound weight class at the elite event with a stunning 7-0 showing with six consecutive pins and a 4-0 shutout victory against Poway junior Laird Root, the second-ranked wrestler in the state.
Poway, ranked second in California, dominated this year’s 93-team tournament with a first-place team showing with 277.5 points, 10 wrestlers placing among the top eight in their respective weight classes and two individual weight class champions: Angelo Posada (157 pounds) and Lucas Condon (175 pounds).
But there’s no question that Guffey, an Alpine resident, dominated his weight class. He improved to 17-0 this season with 14 pins.
By virtue of his win over Laird, a nationally-ranked wrestler who has committed to wrestle at Wisconsin, Guffey has moved up to No. 2 in the state rankings while Root dropped to No. 3. Both grapplers trail top-ranked Miguel Estrada, a junior from Frontier.
Root placed third in the 152-pound weight at last year’s state finals while Guffey was fifth at 132 pounds.
Things are definitely looking up this season for the Eagle standout after placing runner-up at last year’s San Diego Section Masters.
Besides moving up several weight classes from last season, the Granite Hills standout had to deal with the challenge of competing in a 128-deep bracket in Reno. He showed his fortitude and determination by defeating three nationally-ranked wrestlers on his way to the championship.
The Alpine mat man, who recently committed to Stanford, has won all three tournaments he’s wrestled in to start the 2022-23 season: Granite Hills Invitational on Dec. 3, La Costa Canyon/Jimmy Hamada Classic on Dec. 9-10 and the Reno TOC.
He won the outstanding wrestler award at the first two tournaments and narrowly missed a third OW award in the Reno. He scored 40 of the Eagles’ 89 points in the tournament.
This season could be a preview of greater things to come, in fact. Guffey, who currently carries a 4.78 GPA, still has one more year of high school, meaning he has the potential to become a state champion both this year and next.
What is good for Guffey is also good for the Eagles. Granite Hills finished 18th in the team standings out of the nearly 100 entered teams.
The Eagles are ranked No. 2 among section teams after edging traditional powerhouse Rancho Bernardo by 4.5 points at the preceding Hamada Classic. Granite Hills is in position to qualify as many as 10 wrestlers for this year’s state meet — some lofty numbers indeed.
Guffey isn’t the only Eagle to soar over the mat this season.
Granite Hills junior transfer Abram Cline, a finalist at last year’s Masters, is the highest ranked San Diego Section wrestler in the state at No. 1 in his 106-pound division.
Cline finished second at the 78th annual Tournament of Champions Dec. 29-30 at Sonora High School in La Habra following a 5-0 loss to Buchanan’s Rocklin Zinkin in the finals.
Granite Hills tied for 13th among the 66 scoring teams. Other place-winners for the Eagles included Zach Waterhouse (seventh at 160 pounds) and Devon Wells (eighth at 138 pounds).
Poway’s Condon is ranked second in the state while Posada is ranked third.