North Medford High wrestling coach Phillip Lopez isn't the type to get carried away.
EAGLE POINT — For someone with such a stellar academic background as Eagle Point senior Aaron Lorenz, the mathematical trend is easy to follow.
Going from eighth to fourth to second in three consecutive years at the state tournament leads to only one conclusion should the trend continue.
"I've cut it in half every year so that means this has to be the year for me," Lorenz says of his state-championship aspirations. "I think it's an attainable goal. I've worked hard enough and paid my dues to get where I am so I think this will be the year."
In order to apply that theory, Lorenz will have to secure another trip to the Class 5A state tournament with a strong showing during this weekend's 5A District 4 Regional Championships at Eagle Point High. Action starts today at 2 p.m. and resumes Saturday at 9:30 a.m., with championship finals around 4 p.m. Saturday.
Lorenz, who boasts a 3.96 grade-point average, has claimed a district or regional title in each of his previous three attempts. He has parlayed those efforts into becoming a three-time state placer. He was eighth at 103 pounds as a freshman, fourth at 103 as a sophomore and fell just short of his ultimate goal by placing second last year as a junior 112-pounder.
"He does a great job of focusing, not only at the task at hand but, when it comes down to it, his ultimate goal of being a state champion," Eagle Point head coach Kacey McNulty says. "He's a good competitor and he gets pretty serious at the end of the season. That's what really drives him is the end of the year."
Lorenz is taking that drive to a new level as he approaches his final chance at a state championship in high school.
"I'm practicing hard every day and eating right and doing all the extras on my own, just everything I can do in a positive way to get me there," says the 17-year-old standout. "I know I've worked pretty hard all year but I've just got to remain focused on what I'm going to do to win."
Lorenz says he's ramped up his workouts in the past months, running 30 minutes on a treadmill in his room three days per week. Sometimes the extra running is done in the morning, sometimes at night and, occasionally, he'll do both just to prove to himself that he's not cutting corners in his quest.
"Probably toward the end of the season is when I start to push myself as hard as I can go because I want to do everything I can to win the state title," he says.
After spending most of the season competing at 126 pounds, Lorenz will compete at 120 for the regional and, should he advance, state tournaments. He is ranked No. 1 at 120 with a 20-5 record after placing fourth at the Reser's Tournament of Champions, second at the Coast Classic and going 5-0 at the Oregon Classic.
"Getting to the finals at 126 at the Coast Classic, wrestling basically up a weight, just shows how tough he is," says McNulty.
All of Lorenz's losses have come against some of the state's best, including defending 4A state champion Ronnie Bresser of Henley, 2010 state champion McKennan Buckner of Crook County and state runners-up Houston Ezell of 5A Churchill and Aaron Longtain of 3A Rogue River. His other loss was to Marshfield's Thaddeus Nelson, ranked No. 1 at 113 pounds at the 5A level.
Besides the top-flight competition he's already faced, Lorenz says taking on athletes who are a little bigger and stronger at 126 should pay off for the stretch run.
"It's helped me because a lot of the kids I'm wrestling now feel a little bit smaller," he says. "I've had to learn to wrestle stronger kids and use a little bit more position and I think that experience gives me an advantage when I'm wrestling down (at 120)."
The 5-foot-7 Lorenz has plenty of experience when it comes to wrestling. He's been at it since he was 8 and was a triple-crown winner in the summer following his freshman campaign. That year, Lorenz won the freestyle, Greco-Roman and collegiate state titles in the Cadet Division at 98 pounds and earned a trip to Fargo, N.D., for the national championships.
"It was a great opportunity and I learned a lot in that trip," he says.
Lorenz has shown a knack of being strong on his feet with good defensive techniques, but he also has a little something extra arsenal.
"He's good technically and he's a gamer," says McNulty. "He gets after it in match time, and having a mature kid at those lighter weights is definitely an advantage."
Lorenz has been a straight-A student in school save for one B received his sophomore year in biology. He's been taking online classes at Rogue Community College and says he's up to 45 credits as he works toward an eventual degree in business management.
As together and focused as Lorenz appears, he admits to being taken aback each time he steps into Memorial Coliseum for the first day at the state tournament.
"Definitely every year coming into that arena you get that feeling and it's always a little nerve-racking and you're in awe," he says. "I was definitely nervous my freshman year, but after placing and coming back, I know what to expect and I think I can do good things when I get there again."