Reno High's 145-pound senior Joey Lavallee was one of five Northern Nevada Division I wrestlers to win a state championship Saturday at the Reno Livestock Events Center.
Lavallee, along with Manogue senior Willy McDonald (138), Damonte Ranch senior Drew Smith (160), Spanish Springs senior Tyler Beaulac (182) and Reed senior Spencer Empey (220), were crowned champions.
What separates the 18-year-old Huskies wrestler, who finished the season 52-3, is that he's the seventh person to win four state titles at the highest level.
It all started when Lavallee was in diapers on the wrestling mat where his father, Joe, coached the USA Wrestling Nevada national team.
"He was born on the mat pretty much," said Joe Lavallee, who has coached wrestling since his son was born. "I'd just throw little Joey on the mat in diapers, and I told my guys that if they ran him over that they'd be doing sprints for the whole day ...
"He grew up on the mat and took off from there."
Lavallee was part of the South Reno Wrestling Club, which no longer exists, from the age of 4 up to 10 and received what he said was invaluable training from longtime Reno area wrestling coaches John Lazarri and Chris Smith.
"I just want to say thank you to my family and coaches for preparing me for this moment since I was a little guy," Lavallee said after winning the state title. "It's just on to college now, so it's all starting over again, and I have to get ready for the big boys. "
The No. 6-ranked wrestling college in the country, Missouri, awaits Lavallee's arrival.
The accomplishments didn't happen overnight, as Reno wrestling coach Jeff Tomac and Lavallee's father stressed the wrestler's work ethic.
"Joey does way more than any coach could ever ask of a high school athlete and nobody, except a few select kids, realizes that it doesn't just happen three months out of the year," Tomac said. "It happens 10 months per year."
The effort culminated at state where Lavallee defeated highly touted Green Valley senior Zack Perry during the final, 8-3.
Just don't call either a highlight around Tomac.
"That was just business, and he could have done that all year long very honestly," Tomac said. "His highlight really can't be summed up in any one match."