Years of hard work finally pay off for Helsdon
How many years of wrestling does it take to win one state championship? Most never find out, because trying to find an answer to that equation can be a daunting undertaking.
But for only the third time since the mid-1970s, a Truckee wrestler now has the answer.
On Saturday, senior heavyweight Jesse Helsdon became only the third state champion from Truckee in recent history when he pinned James Farrelly of Boulder City High School in the first period of the championship match at the NIAA 3A state tournament in Spring Creek.
“He was walking into the gym at the start of the tournament, and he turned to my son and said ‘Fifteen years of wrestling and it all boils down to this one tournament,'” said Coach Ron Curtis.
Curtis’ two sons, who came up from Sierra Junior College in Rocklin to support Helsdon, were the other two state champions.
In fact, James Curtis won a state title last year in the 171-pound class.
Helsdon won his first match handily, then narrowly beat his second round opponent to advance to the final.
Once there, Helsdon must have thought that 15 years was long enough, and he didn’t want to wait another minute, as he made quick work of Farrelly in the first period.
“Jesse got [Farrelly] on his back, and he’s got this hold he uses, and not many kids get off their back once Jesse gets them there,” Curtis said. “The whole year, we’ve never seen a kid get out of that, so as soon as Jesse got that hold on him, our corner just started chanting ‘state champ, state champ’ before the match was even over. It was pretty cool, it was just a totally perfect match and tournament for him.”
In all, Truckee took only four wrestlers to the tournament, but still managed to come a way with a sixth-place finish.
“As a team I thought we did very good. With only four kids, we had the smallest representation of any school. Some schools had 12 or 13 wrestlers, but we still managed to finish sixth with just four wrestlers,” Curtis said.
Also competing last Saturday were Buck Claesson, Brad Sausser and Marcus Waters.
Claesson was seeded at the top of his weight class, but after a second-round upset by Pahrump Valley’s Jacob Towles, was sent into the consolation bracket.
“The kid he lost to was a junior, and Buck is only a freshman,” Curtis said.
Still, Claesson regrouped to win his last two matches in convincing fashion, good for third place.
“And placing third in the state as a freshman is pretty darn good,” Curtis added.
Sausser went into states seeded second behind his longtime nemesis Russell Krall from Lowry.
The two met in the finals for the third week in a row, with Krall sweeping the series and claiming the title on Saturday.
“The 160-pound weight class was a very strong class this year, especially from the north,” Curtis said. “And Brad has beaten everybody in the class but the Lowry kid, who is still his nemisis, I guess.”
Waters, at 145 pounds, took sixth, but once again impressed his coaches with his sheer will.
“He has a tough weight class and he had to go against the number one seed,” Curtis said. “But he wrestled hard … I don’t know what else we can say about this kid. He has the biggest heart on our team.”
So while Helsdon capped a decade-and-a-half of work with a story book finish, Waters, who is only a sophomore, and Claesson have a couple more years each to try and use the variables of hard work, determination and talent to solve the state championship equation.
But Claesson and Waters can always ask 2001-2002 NIAA 3A State Champion Jesse Helsdon for tips on how to do it.
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Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.