By Neil Patrick Healy
With less than two months to go until regionals, the defending national champion Nevada boxing team will begin its final surge to defend its title. On Friday, Feb. 5, the Wolf Pack, along with UC Davis and Cal Berkley, will square off against the United States Military Academy in the Eldorado Convention Center. Here’s what to watch for in each Wolf Pack matchup.
163 – Tristan Harriman (Nevada) vs. Cody Dillard (USMA)
Tristan Harriman is still winless on the season after his loss in Seattle last Friday. Harriman has been in a number of close calls in each of his three fights this season, including a disappointing loss against Air Force’s Johny Wells in Nevada’s last home fight on Nov. 13, in which Nevada fighters had a combined 2-4 record.
166 – Zach Smith (Nevada) vs. Joe Broderick (USMA)
Zach Smith did not participate in team activities in the fall semester due to personal reasons, but is coming off a win against the University of Washington last Friday in Seattle. Smith was a member of the 2015 national championship team, but was the only member not to win either a regional or national championship individually. Smith used his semester off to make his move up in weight from 147 pounds to 166 pounds. His intention is to qualify for regionals at 156 pounds in March.
147 – JJ Mariano (Nevada) vs. Colton Sterk (USMA)
Defending 139-pound national champion JJ Mariano is coming off winning two fights in two nights in Seattle last weekend and was named most outstanding fighter of the tournament. Mariano has won 10 fights in a row with his last loss dating back to the national championship fight his sophomore season. He looks to continue his dominance against West Point’s Colton Sterk.
205 – GARRETT FELLING (NEVADA) VS. MATT REYES (USMA)
Felling will make his home debut against Army as he looks to continue to dominate. After losing on the second day of the Olympic trials back in October, Felling has made the jump in weight to 205 pounds and will look to fight in the heavyweight division for the rest of the season. This will be Feeling’s first fight where he competes as a heavyweight after winning two 185-pound national championships his freshman and sophomore years.
Legendary Nevada football coach Chris Ault’s grandson Davis Ault will compete in the Mighty Mite Division for high school fighters prior to the undercard on Friday. Davis Ault is only a sophomore at Reno High School, but has been training with the boxing team during the football offseason.
Nevada boxing goes into its fight this Friday with three of its four fighters looking to position themselves favorably going into regionals in March. If events play out the way they are expected to, Nevada will qualify at least three fighters for regionals, and these bouts will be a major indicator for who goes and who has to wait until next year.
Neil Patrick Healy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NP_Healy.