Can you feel it? In just one week’s time, the OSAA / OnPoint Community Credit Union State Wrestling Championships will get underway at Memorial Coliseum in downtown Portland.
The preparation. The anticipation. It’s so exciting!
6A District championships
Last weekend in 6A, seven District tournaments were conducted to determine those wrestlers who would advance to wrestle at the state tournament.
Districts also determined team champions, a hint in large part to the teams that will be contending for the team title at state.
In 6A, Newberg, West Linn, Sandy, Sprague, South Medford, Cleveland and Westview came away with District team titles.
Newberg trounced the field to win its District, which consists of Pacific Conference teams. The Tigers won every weight class from 120 through 170, and 195, with Isaac Hampton, Gavin Rangel, Zachary Keinonen and Gus Amerson all winning district titles by fall.
By my count, Newberg qualified 17 wrestlers, more or less, with six favored to win their bracket. That should be more than enough to give the Tigers their third 6A title in a row, even though the team will bring four fewer wrestlers to the Coliseum than they did last year.
But Newberg, which won the team score by 48 points in 2020 and a ridiculous 197.5 points last year, will get a challenge this year from Three Rivers League champion West Linn, which won its District by more than 60 points over Tualatin. The Lions had 10 individual champions, including stat favorites Justin Rademacher and Earl Ingle, and will take 16 wrestlers to state.
“I was pleased with our preparation and discipline to make weight,” said first-year coach Kevin Keeney. “We had some kids that went down in weight for the first time this year and everyone stayed very mentally tough. As far as how we wrestled, I thought we were often sloppy and undisciplined as a whole. Now we had some individuals look and do very good but overall, we have much to clean up positionally and wrestling with discipline or else we won't see the results we are shooting for at State.”
Indeed, it is possible – possible – that the state title will come down to the victor at 145 pounds, where Newberg’s Gus Amerson has already won two nail biters over West Linn’s Charlie Spinning at major events this season.
“This team has an opportunity to be remembered forever,” Kenney said. “We are working to make that happen.”
Sprague, which handily won its District tournament over McNary and North Salem, will have fewer wrestlers at State than Newberg or West Linn, but is slated for a top five finish behind heavyweight star Cole Steketee and District champs like Josh Camillo at 152 and Kenya Johnson at 182.
Sandy solidified itself as a state contender with a decisive District win over Mt. Hood Conference teams. The Pioneers had five individual champions, including Garrett Headat106, who won his final by fall; and heavyweight Nate Shea, who won his final by injury forfeit.
“Sandy had 28 wrestlers entered in the tourney, which is the first time we have had a full district lineup that I'm aware of going back to at least 1990,” said coach Larry Topliff. “We had 13 State qualifiers, but what really stood out was that we had a record 25 individuals place in the top 6. That top to bottom performance is what enabled us to win the District title by a wide margin.”
Topliff added that his team’s performance was important for gathering momentum, not only at State but in the year’s beyond, the goal being to string together great season after great season. He added that the state tournament will be a challenge.
“We expect to land in the top 10, but how high will be determined by draws and if we can put together one more team effort,” he explained. “We only have a single previous State placer on our team so we're entering the tourney with a lot less experience than most teams vying for a top finish.”
South Medford pulled off a bit of a surprise by outpointing Roseburg for the Southwest Conference District title, its first ever. The Panthers had four individual champions, including three by pin fall. Roseburg almost matched South Medford but heavyweight Grady Hamilton was edged, 1-0, by Parker Jarvis.
“In the week prior, I assessed the district and our team and knew we had a chance,” said coach South Medford James Schumack. “But with our school having never won the district before, I wasn't overly confident and knew we would have to wrestle well to have a chance. In the end our kids came together and performed and came away with an historic victory for our program.”
The biggest and most emotional moment for the Panther program came early when senior Kristian Hernandez-Topete won by fall at 106 pounds.
“Kris took up wrestling as a sophomore and put in a lot of work to get him to the level he is at,” Schumack said. “It was a great thing to see all of his efforts pay off.”
Schumack said winning the District title may not be the last you’ll hear of the Panthers.
“I expect us to make a little noise at the state level and finish somewhere in the top 10,” the coach said. “We have four wrestlers seeded but several others that are dangerous and can contend for podium spots. Our kids have showed up and wrestled well all year and I expect the same from them at the state tournament.”
Cleveland won the District PIL crown by 42 points over Jefferson. Haley Vann, one of the top girls wrestlers in the country, finished third at 126 to qualify in both the girls and boys state tournaments!
“We had a great second day of the wrestling tournament,” noted Cleveland coach Jeff Zerba. “Going into the second day we were down by 21 points. We had 15 wrestlers in and McDaniel had 25. And we won 7/10 semifinal matches! That was a turning point.”
The team, which now has a District winning streak extending to 12, qualified 11 for state with four District champions.
Logan Medford won his fourth District championship at 138. He is only the second Cleveland wrestler to win four in a row. Adrian Anaya is a District champion at 132 after only two years of wrestling. Connor Smeller (160) and Josh Sonnichsen (182) won their first titles.
“I’m also very pleased that Ian Pilár, Nikita Story and Will McKnight were all able to come back and place third to qualify for the state tournament,” Zerba said.
“Going into the tournaments I told the wrestlers not to focus on District points, but to focus on wrestling the match that was in front of them,” the coach continued. “We were more interested in qualifying wrestlers to State than winning a District title. I believe on Saturday we only lost eight matches all day. I was very proud of how they wrestled!”
Led by Elliot and Elias Mauck and three other District champs, Westview got by Mountainside and Aloha to win the Metro League District title.
“Our team competed very well,” said coach Michael Delaney. “They were focused and knew what they needed to do to win a team title. We had five champions with nine in the finals. I’m looking forward to the State Tournament. Only two of our 11 competitors have ever wrestled in the Coliseum and they are excited about the opportunity.”
3A District championships
Yamhill-Carlton, Harrisburg, North Valley and Burns came home with 3A District titles last weekend.
Only Harrisburg had a dominant run. The Eagles had five District champs, including Luke Cheek at 113, Curtis Talmadge at 126 and freshman Brody Buzzard, who won a 1-0 decision over teammate Nephi Heakin at 145.
“Our team wrestled well at the District tourney,” Harrisburg coach Desmond Bennett said. “It didn’t meet my expectations. We will definitely have to have a better performance if we want to get it done at State, and we can perform good enough to get it done. We had a good chance to get a few more through to the State Tournament but, unfortunately for us, it didn’t go our way in those third-place matches.”
Bennett said that Landen Hecht and Devin Martin, who won at 152 and 160, respectively, were particular standouts.
“Landen got his first tournament title at any time in his wrestling career,” Bennett shared. “He competed and battled through every position all tourney long. It was fun to watch.”
Harrisburg has every right to be optimistic about its team chances, because defending 3A state champion La Pine did not win its District tournament. With four out due to injury, illness or other reasons, including two State placers, the Hawks fell to Burns by 21 points. Coach Aaron Flack said that La Pine will be hard-pressed to threepeat without more wrestlers making it to the Coliseum.
“If we can pull off a State Championship three years in a row with four of our kids out that would have made it to State and been point scorers, there’s your story,” Flack said.
Burns had six individual champions, including Hunter Kemper at 152 and Easton Kemper at 170.
North Valley got by South Umpqua to win its District, the first time ever for the Knights
Ryan Gaskin, champion at 182 pounds, finished the season the 34-1 going into the State Tournament. Gaskin is on a 31- match winning streak. He ran a gauntlet to win his first-ever District title and was named the tourney’s outstanding wrestler.
“For a kid who did not make it to State last season as a freshman, it has been a remarkable turnaround season,” noted head coach Morgon Holden.
Seth Gallego, who won at 195 pounds, also is a first-time champion. Galego needed overtime before downing Jacob Logan of South Umpqua.
“At one point Seth was down 4-1 with under a minute to go,” Holdon noted. “A takedown and a stalling point all within 20 seconds of the match being over changed everything.”
Yamhill-Carlton won its District despite just one individual champion, Erik Potter at 170 pounds. Potter pinned his way through the tournament. Second place Banks put an impressive seven atop the podium.
Coach Sean Nonamaker was pleased with YC’s victory.
“We knew we weren't gonna match Banks' firepower in the finals, but we also knew we had an outside chance of catching Banks on the backside with 3/4 and 5/6 matches,” he explained. “They had already beat us in three duals this year, so we preached all week that if we are gonna have a shot; we have to catch those consolation points by having pretty much everyone place at least sixth or better and get bonus points by pinning. So they did an excellent job in stepping up and doing that.”
Nonamaker said that he was especially happy to see Ryder Ramirez at 120 and Kalob Dallas at 126 qualify for state with pins in the 3/4 matches, as he wasn’t sure they would finish that high.
So, it looks like 3A will be wide open next weekend. Burns may be the favorite. It might be Harrisburg.
“Our kids have been working hard for a few years with this season on their minds,” said Bennett of Harrisburg. “With the schedule that they’ve wrestled in this season, there’s no doubt they are battle tested. We’re hoping it can all come together and we peak at the right time.
“The state tournament this season, with ourselves, Burns, La Pine, Banks and Yamhill-Carlton all sending a good amount of kids, could potentially be one of the tighter and more fun state tourneys in recent years.”
2A/1A District championships
Defending champion Culver, Illinois Valley and Willamina all won District titles in 2A/1A last weekend.
Culver won in a rout, and will take seven champions to the state tournament.
Illinois Valley won in a rout, and will take four champions to the state tournament.
Willamina won by a good margin over Kennedy and Toledo, and had three District champs.
“I was pleased with how we performed this past weekend,” said Willamina coach Ariah Fasana, “although we did have some unfortunate losses (as you do at any tournament).”
Freshmen Kisor Savage (second at 113) and Adoniyah Stanton (first at 120) set the tone for the Bulldogs. Senior Austin Johnson, state runner up last year, pinned his way to the District title at 152. Junior Rhyne Nelson also was a pinning machine at 220.
Lastly, Gage Bishop (145) inspired by wrestling six matches (five on the mat) on Saturday to claim third place as an unseeded wrestler.
“We knew he had it in him, so it was nice to see him come through,” Fasana said.
Knappa, which played host to the District that Willamina won, saw junior Corbin Roe win on his home mat at 126 pounds. The District title is the first for Roe, who has won a school-record 42 matches this season,
Sophomore Donnie VanGundy also had a great tourney for the Loggers. Wrestling at 113, he scored a few upsets on his way to third place and a berth in the state tournament bracket.
Knappa coach Kyle Andergg said that he expects great things at State from Roe and his sister, Kiya. The siblings made school history by both winning District titles.
“Corbin dedicated his summer and pre-season to training for wrestling,” the coach explained. “He attended camps and various clinics. He goes on runs and workouts on our off days during the season. I think his work ethic and dedication to the sport really has done wonders for him. He is one of the best wrestlers I’ve had the honor to coach.”
Legends of the fall
In this section, we list wrestlers recording pins this season in under 20 seconds.
Eric Larwin, Soph., Bend, 132, Dec. 2
Wylie Johnson, Sr., Culver, 285, Dec. 2
Wylie Johnson, Sr., Culver, 285, Dec. 2
Jon Wiese, Sr., Newport, 182, Jan. 14
Sadie Hall, Soph., North Medford, 120, Feb. 4
Brash Henderson, Soph., Silverton, 220, Dec. 3
Tagge Fry, Sr., Grants Pass, 145, Jan. 28
Estella Gutches, Sr., North Medford, Feb. 4
Adan Beltran-Reyes, Kennedy, 113, Feb. 12
Victor Perez, Soph., Newport, 113, Jan. 7
Jon Wiese, Sr., Newport, 182, Jan. 7
Breanna Meek, Soph., North Valley, 235, Dec. 3
Kira Kerr, Sr., La Pine, 155, Feb. 4
Lilliyan Jaramillo, Jr., Rogue River, 190, Feb. 4
Lilliyan Jaramillo, Jr., Rogue River, 235, Dec. 3
Quinton Foster, Sr., Oregon City, 170, Dec. 3
Mason Buss, Sr., Siuslaw, 195, Feb. 12
Kaci Anderson, Sr., Baker / Powder Valley, 145
Mason Thynes, Soph., Redmond, 126, Dec. 3
Landyn Philpott, Soph., La Pine, 132, Dec. 2
Krystal Zamora, Soph. Thurston, 145, Dec. 10
DeMario Gonzales, Roosevelt, 170, Feb. 12
In this recurring category, we list wrestlers with 12 or more wins who are currently undefeated on the season.
36-0 – Vaun Halstead, Sr., Thurston, 5A (220)
32-0 – Sadie Hall, Soph., North Medford, 6A/5A (125)
29-0 – Mason Buss, Sr., Siuslaw, 3A (195)
24-0 – Estella Gutches, Sr., North Medford, 6A/5A (135)
24-0 – Aundre Chacon, Sr., North Salem, 6A, 113
17-0 -- Logan Clayburn, Jr., Myrtle Point, 2A/1A (220)
14-0 – Breanna Meek, Soph., North Valley, 4A/3A/2A/1A (235)
Pin to the end
In this section, we list wrestlers who pinned their way through an even with four or more wins.
Haley Vann, Sr., Cleveland, 135, War of the Roses, Dec. 10, Average pin: 42 seconds
Marwan Aman, Beaverton, 152, Tyrone Woods Memorial, Dec. 3, Average pin: 43 seconds
Mason Buss, Sr., Siuslaw, 195, North Bend Coast Classic, Dec. 9-10, Average pin: 44 seconds
Derek Torres, Sr., Culver, 138, Adrian Irwin Memorial, Dec. 2-3, Average pin: 44 seconds
Gregory Wallace, Jr., Hillsboro, 195, Southridge Invitational, Jan. 14, Average pin: 48 seconds
Logan Clayburn, Jr., Myrtle Point, 220, Eagle Point Invitational, Jan. 7, Average pin: 48 seconds
Daschle Lamer, Sr., Crescent Valley, 170, Reser’s Tournament of Champions, Feb. 3-4, Average pin: 53 seconds
Jaden Echevarria, Sr., Hillsboro, 285, Southridge Invitational, Jan. 14, Average pin: 55 seconds
Wylie Johnson, Sr., Culver, 285, Adrian Irwin Memorial, Dec. 2-3, Average pin: 57 seconds
Sebastian Echevarria, Sr., Hillsboro, 225, Southridge Invitational, Jan. 14, Average pin: 1:22
Cole Steketee, Sr., Sprague, 285, Tyrone Woods Memorial, Dec. 3, Average pin: 1:24
Corbin Roe, Jr. Knappa, Phil White Classic, Dec. 29. Average pin: 1:27
Parker Jarvis, Sr., Grants Pass, 285, Tualatin Invitational, Jan. 28, Average pin: 1:37
Brody Lybarger, Soph., Mountainside, 113, Tyrone Woods Memorial, Dec. 3, Average pin: 1:40
Noah Morris, Sr., Mountainside, 170, Tyrone Woods Memorial, Dec. 3, Average pin: 1:41
Tagge Fry, Sr., Grants Pass, 145, Tualatin Invitational, Jan. 28, Average pin: 1:42
Tyson Flack, Sr., La Pine, 106, Reser’s Tournament of Champions, Feb. 3-4, Average pin: 1:43
Ryan Gaskin, Soph., North Valley, 182, Dan Vidlak Invitational, Dec. 3, Average pin: 1:43
Cael White, Sr., Madras, 160, Cottage Grove Invitational, Jan. 28, Average pin: 1:49
Gage Singleton, Jr., Roseburg, 113, North Bend Coast Classic, Dec. 9-10, Average pin: 1:51
Logan Clayburn, Jr., Myrtle Point, 220, North Bend Coast Classic, Dec. 9-10, Average pin: 1:55
Krystal Zamora, Soph. Thurston, 145, War of the Roses, Dec. 10, Average pin: 2:04
Preston Echevarria, Jr., Hillsboro, 182, Southridge Invitational, Jan. 14, Average pin: 2:05
Ryan Gaskin, Soph., North Valley, 182, Rumble on the Rogue, Jan. 21, Average pin: 2:50
Madi Randels, Jr., Tualatin, 155, War of the Roses, Dec. 10, Average pin: 3:06
100 % COMMITTED!
In this section, we identify those wrestlers who have made commitments to wrestle in college.
Hudson Davis, Sr., Newberg, 197 -- Wyoming
Riley Davis, Sr., Sprague, 174 -- Wyoming
DJ Gillett, Sr., Crescent Valley, 133 – Oregon State
Vaun Halstead, Sr., Thurston, 197 – Oregon State
Daschle Lamer, Sr., Crescent Valley, 174 – Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Justin Rademacher, Sr., West Linn, 174 – Oregon State
Destiny Rodriguez, Sr., West Linn, 152 – McKendree University
Hayden Walters, Sr., Crater, 197 – Michigan
Andrew Worthington, Sr., Mountain View, 133 – Minot State
If you are a high school varsity head coach and want to know how you can contribute to future Notebooks, contact John Tawa at [email protected]