EAGLE POINT — For all the success the Eagle Point wrestling team has enjoyed this season, it still seemed like there was a hint of untapped potential that the Eagles weren't realizing this season.
That all changed Saturday during the second day of the Class 5A District 4 Regional Championships at Eagle Point High.
Putting it all together at just the right time, Eagle Point crowned six champions and had eight finalists overall to amass 366 points and run away with the 11-team tournament. Churchill was a distant second with 249 points but was able to move ahead of Bend (235.5), which trailed the Eagles by only one point entering Saturday's final rounds.
"This is the best effort of the year and it's at the right time," said Eagle Point head coach Kacey McNulty, whose team advanced 13 wrestlers overall to the 5A state tournament in two weeks. "Hopefully we can just carry this into the state tournament. We had kids that did what they've been capable of doing. Maybe there was some inspirational talking and some visualization that got to them, I don't know, but they really came out this weekend and believed that they could wrestle."
Eagle Point got on a roll early in the day and turned it up a notch in the finals. Senior Aaron Lorenz broke through for the Eagles' first championship win — his fourth straight district title — with a steady showing at 120 pounds, and everything clicked from there as teammates Alek Callahan (132), James McCoy (138) and Travis Woods (145) immediately followed with wins of their own.
After a three-match lull, Eagle Point junior Johnny Wilkerson secured another title for his team at 182 pounds and senior heavyweight Manny Valdovinos put an appropriate stamp on the tourney with his championship effort in the final match of the day.
"I was impressed, they all did a great job," added McNulty, who was named coach of the year for the District 4 Regional. "There were some great matches, with kids winning overtime matches and winning matches with four seconds left ... they showed up to perform."
Hunter Hoeptner was forced to injury default his finals match with Churchill's Chase Kearney at 152, while Orlando DeLaCruz was done in by a 22-3 technical fall by Marshfield's Thaddeus Nelson at 113 to also finish second. Nelson was voted most outstanding wrestler at the lower weights, while Churchill's Zac Brunson gained the nod as most outstanding wrestler at the upper weights for his championship run.
Ashland sophomore Mason Montgomery, ranked No. 1 at 195, fell short in his title quest in four overtimes to Mountain View's Trevor Roberts. The Grizzlies finished ninth and also received a third-place effort from Cody Eisenberg (220).
Montgomery and Roberts each earned an escape in regulation but neither could score in the first overtime. In the second and third overtimes, each wrestler was given 30 seconds to escape from the other and both accomplished that feat to make it 2-2 heading into a sudden-death final overtime. Since Roberts scored first in the match, he held the option and chose the down position and was able to escape from Montgomery's clutches in 10 seconds to gain a 3-2 victory.
After Lorenz set the tone for the Eagles, the sophomore Callahan provided an emotional lift when he rallied from a 2-0 deficit to Mountain View's Kyler Ayers with a reversal coming with one minute remaining in the third period. Callahan was able to hold Ayers down for the final stretch to push the match into overtime, then conjured up a little magic with five seconds to go when he caught Ayers on his heels during a restart and secured a match-winning takedown.
With the crowd still buzzing, McCoy stepped on the mat against Springfield's Macyn Nagao and opened a quick 5-0 lead. Nagao threw a monkey wrench into the freshman's plans with a reversal inside the final 10 seconds but McCoy regrouped to score a reversal of his own in the waning seconds for a 7-2 edge. McCoy kept up the pressure and eventually secured a 17-2 technical fall with 24 seconds left in the match.
Woods then capped the streak of consecutive titles with a 7-2 decision over Churchill's Joe Potts in a match that wasn't determined until the final four seconds.
The senior Woods had pinned all three of his foes to reach the finals but found himself in a cat-and-mouse game with Potts for about five minutes. With the match tied at 1-all and one minute to go, Woods finally was able to get a takedown on the edge of the mat that he'd been eyeing since the first period for a 3-1 lead.
"That gave me a lot of confidence and boosted me right up," said Woods. "I was ready for it again."
Potts managed to escape to pull back within one point with 47 seconds to go, but Woods would not be denied as he fought for a takedown with four seconds to go and turned that into a near fall for a four-point swing in the final four seconds.
"It was a real good match," said Woods, who advanced to the state tourney for the fourth straight year. "It was a good scramble there at the end. I've got to give him credit, that's the toughest match I had this whole tournament."
Wilkerson controlled the action from the opening seconds in his match at 182 against Bend's Kenny Dailey, taking a 5-1 lead into the third period and then turning it on down the stretch for a 10-2 triumph.
In the final match, the top-ranked Valdovinos earned his second win over Churchill's Will Dawson in three attempts when he broke a 1-all tie with 50 seconds to go by gaining leverage and forcing Dawson to catch himself with both hands on the mat for a takedown and eventual 3-1 victory.
Efforts by seniors like Valdovinos, Woods, Lorenz, Trevor Olsen, Edward Martinez and Alejandro Valle-Romero, according to McNulty, were crucial to Eagle Point's ability to close strong on Saturday.
Martinez (152) was joined by freshman Levi Pomeroy (126) in winning wrestlebacks — challenge matches between wrestlers who place fourth and fifth but haven't met yet in the tourney — that determined the fourth wrestler at their weight to advance to state. The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
"We have six seniors and they knew that this was going to be their last show and they gave it their all and, from that, we get the younger guys following along," said the equally-energized coach. "It's about time."
5A District 4 Regionals
TEAM SCORES — Eagle Point 366, Churchill 249, Bend 235.5, Mountain View 231.5, Marshfield 162, Summit 161.5, Springfield 141, Willamette 74, Ashland 47, North Eugene 17, Marist 8.5.
106 — J.T. Ayers, MV, injury default over Wyatt Slaght, MV; 113 — Thaddeus Nelson, Mar, tech. fall Orlando DeLaCruz, EP, 22-3; 120 — Aaron Lorenz, EP, dec. Hunter Goguen, Chu, 5-0; 126 — Houston Ezell, Chu, injury default over Dylan Beneat, Chu; 132 — Alek Callahan, EP, dec. Kyler Ayers, MV, 4-2 OT.
138 — James McCoy, EP, tech. fall Macyn Nagao, Spr, 17-2; 145 — Travis Woods, EP, dec. Joe Potts, Chu, 7-2; 152 — Chase Kearney, Chu, injury default over Hunter Hoeptner, EP; 160 — Joe Jones, Wil, tech. fall Willy Abt, Bend, 21-6.
170 — Zac Brunson, Chu, pinned Gavin Gerdes, Bend, 3:31; 182 — Johnny Wilkerson, EP, major dec. Kenny Dailey, Bend, 10-2; 195 — Trevor Roberts, MV, dec. Mason Montgomery, Ash, 3-2 4OT; 220 — Jevon Painter, Mar, pinned Kaden Olson, Sum, 3:20; 285 — Manny Valdovinos, EP, dec. Will Dawson, Chu, 3-1.
106 — Jorrin Ishihara, Chu, major dec. Brandon Dugan, Spr, 16-7; 113 — Brandon Campbell, Mar, dec. Patrick Leiphart, Sum, 4-1; 120 — J.R. Pascual, Wil, tech. fall Tracy Pitcher, MV, 15-0; 126 — Skyler Harvey, Mar, dec. Levi Pomeroy, EP, 10-3; 132 — Redge Phillips, Chu, pinned Kris Kirkpatrick, MV, 1:06.
138 — Tanner Combs, MV, pinned Vern Stevens, Mar, 4:43; 145 — Thane Baumer, EP, dec. Ryan Leiphart, Sum, 6-4 OT; 152 — Conner Rueth, Sum, dec. Edward Martinez, EP, 8-6; 160 — Caleb Ash, EP, dec. Michael Sutterfield, Bend, 12-6.
170 — Joaquin Reyes, Sum, dec. Gunner Crawford, Bend, 5-1; 182 — Nick Gates, Chu, pinned Derek Hubler, Bend, 3:00; 195 — Dre Golden, Bend, dec. Trevor Olsen, EP, 11-8; 220 — Cody Eisenberg, Ash, pinned D.J. Gray, Spr, 2:49; 285 — Brian Chapman, MV, pinned Cody Jantze, Spr, 5:59.
106 — Tyler Campbell, Mar, tech. fall Izaak Grubbs, Mar, 19-2; 113 — Damian Gonzalez, EP, pinned Gavin Patrick, Spr, 1:45; 120 — Eddie Perez-Rivera, EP, major dec. Kasey Beuschlein, Bend, 10-2; 126 — Sherman Hammond, EP, dec. Nico Spring, Bend, 7-2; 132 — Tyler Ornelas, Bend, forfeit by Christian Lathan, Mar.
138 — Kaden Crandall, EP, dec. Evan Chinadle, Bend, 10-3; 145 — Greg Prescott, Bend, dec. Mack Amodeo, MV, 7-4; 152 — Jason Vinton, Bend, tech. fall Brandon Katter, Sum, 16-1; 160 — Zack Parker, Spr, dec. Andrew Bright, MV, 10-9.
170 — Matt Miller, MV, dec. Sean Seefeldt, Sum, 8-2; 182 — Dalton Pachano, NE, pinned Eddie Baitey, Spr, :33; 195 — Keaton White, Sum, pinned Ben Klein, MV, 1:31; 220 — Alejandro Valle-Romero, EP, pinned David O'Connor, Bend, :56; 285 — Dylan Johnson, MV, pinned John Murphy, Sum, :16.