Tim Long wins Reno tournament
RIFLE, Colo. When Rifle High senior Tim Long won the Class 4A 152-pound state title in wrestling in February, he was just getting started.Long recently returned from the World Wrestling Championships in Reno, an open tournament held April 6-8 that this year drew more than 6,000 grapplers.Long’s bracket alone – competitors at 152-pounds and under 18 – drew 56 competitors.”It was definitely a big bracket,” Long said.
But no matter. Long managed to top his state championship title when he worked his way through the bracket, and earned a first-place title. “I’ve been going to Reno for three or four years but I’d never placed,” he said. “It’s pretty competitive. Each bracket has four to eight state champions.”Long said it was three days of wrestling morning to night. He wrestled five times in two days, and then once on Sunday to nail the title. He said his first round was “pretty easy,” though his second match was the toughest. When he got through that match, he was up with the “elite kids” in the third round.
“That was pretty scary,” Long said.Long said the huge size of the Reno tournament makes it as psychologically difficult as it is physically taxing. The stadium in Reno is huge, and only three mats are used at a time, so a lot of attention is focused on the competing grapplers. “I tried not to think I was wrestling for a world title, and that I was just wrestling against another kid,” he said, “but you do shake.”Long had to keep his head together, especially during his last match.”In the last 13 seconds, I was on the bottom, and (my opponent) was freaking out,” Long said. “I just had to stay with it. And in the end, I knew I’d done it. I knew exactly what my score was.”
It’s been a very good year for Long, and he knows it. “Winning state, it wouldn’t have been a good finish if I had gotten beaten out of Reno,” he said. Now he’s looking at colleges, and has some wrestling scholarship possibilities at schools in Missouri, Iowa and California. Long is keeping himself in check in the meantime, keeping a champion’s humble perspective on his state and world titles.”The Olympics are the ultimate goal,” he said. “But those guys are really good. There’s a lot of work to be done if I want to get there.”
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