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PORTLAND — Morgan Walters pulled off the upset of the day to help lead a strong showing by Crater's wrestling team at the Class 6A state tournament Friday at Memorial Coliseum.
Walters, a junior 120-pounder, used a 7-2 victory over top-ranked and No. 1 seed Jeramiah Baker of David Douglas to become the first of three Comets to advance to this morning's semifinals. Also advancing within one win of the 6A championship final were Crater's Kody Gray (145) and Chance Fahndrich (182).
"That's a great job by them," Crater head coach Greg Haga said of the trio, who helped Crater pull into sixth place on Day 1. "For us to get three of our five (quarterfinalists) through, I was pretty happy."
Also in 6A action, Grants Pass had Casey Coulter (106), Luke Collins (138) and Ryan Shean (170) advance to the semis to place the Cavemen eighth overall.
At the Class 5A level, Eagle Point's Aaron Lorenz (120), Johnny Wilkerson (182) and Manny Valdovinos (285) each won twice to reach today's semifinals, as did Ashland's Mason Montgomery (195).
Phoenix senior Eleazar De Luca remained on pace in his quest for a third straight state championship and fourth appearance in the finals with a dominant showing at 145, but he and Hidden Valley's Seth Sotelo (152) were the only local wrestlers to advance in 4A action.
In 3A wrestling, Illinois Valley's Eric Miller (106), Brandon Parker (126), Logan Miller (132) and Jon Britt (160) were joined in reaching the semis by Rogue River's Garrett Dees (182) and Cody Worthington (220).
The fact that Crater's Walters was able to shake up the tournament picture wasn't entirely a surprise given he placed third at state as a freshman. But the junior had more than just a top-seeded obstacle to overcome Friday. He sustained a broken hand two weeks ago in the early stages of the regional tournament — the injury went unconfirmed by X-ray until after the tourney — and eventually went on to default the championship match to avoid further damage.
Walters had a hard cast put on his hand immediately after the regional and wore that for about a week before moving to the current hard shell protector he's using.
The injury didn't appear to slow him down in first-day action, with Walters getting off to a nail-biting start with a 5-4 decision over junior Nacho Mendez of North Salem. In the quarterfinals, Walters dominated Baker, who has placed fourth in the past two state tournaments.
"I told him I'm going to break his hand earlier next year," Haga said in jest when asked to sum up Walters' showing. "I thought he did a great job of focusing. The first-match kid he had was a tough kid and he had to fight hard on (Mendez) to win, and then (Baker) has been tough all year long and he goes out and beats him 7-2 by doing just a great job staying focused the whole match. I'm real proud of him."
Walters will face a familiar foe in Roseburg sophomore Toby Dill in today's semifinals. Walters beat Dill 21-16 in the regional semifinals.
Gray and Fahndrich also wrestled strong in advancing to the semifinals, with the junior Gray earning a 3-2 win over second-ranked Keith Nichols of Canby in the quarterfinals and the senior Fahndrich living up to his No. 2 seed with a 9-4 decision against Century's Chris Lindholm.
Gray held Nichols down for the entire third period to preserve his victory, while Fahndrich pulled away with a 5-2 surge in the final two minutes.
Gray will face third-ranked Jake Neal of Aloha this morning and Fahndrich takes on Tualatin senior Conner Cheel, who edged North Medford's Kaden Johnson 5-4 in the quarterfinals.
Johnson, a junior, had previously upset No. 3 seed Jacob McKinnon of Canby and remains in contention in the consolation bracket with Black Tornado teammates Reid Shipley (170) and Marlon Campos (285).
"I think today was a testament to our inexperience of being here," said North Medford head coach Nolan Harris. "The kids are competing but you don't know what it's like until you get out here."
Also still alive in the consolation bracket for Crater are Nate Walters (132), Chase Mackey (160) and Derek Turituri (220). A win this morning will make all three a state placer (top six).
Eagle Point shared in some of those ups and downs, with only three of the Eagles' 13 qualifiers able to hold on to a spot in the championship bracket.
"We just had a really sporadic day," said EP head coach Kacey McNulty, whose team stands fifth, just 11/2 points behind Hermiston in pursuit of a state trophy. "It was frustrating. We had a great regional tournament and maybe there's been a letdown with what's happened. This isn't the way I wanted them to perform."
Lorenz, a No. 3 seed, posted two pins to reach the semis, while top-ranked Eagles Wilkerson and Valdovinos had a little more of a struggle. Wilkerson had to fend off a late surge in the quarterfinals for a 9-7 win over Hood River Valley's Nick Morgan and Valdovinos needed three overtimes to score a 3-2 decision over Jefferson's Jalean Webb.
Valdovinos trailed 2-0 heading into the third period before using an escape and a stalling penalty by Webb to even the match. Neither wrestler could score in the first one-minute overtime, but Valdovinos scored an escape in a 30-second second OT and then held Webb down for 30 seconds in the third OT to advance.
"I think Manny respected Webb's ability to throw too much and got caught up with that, which made the match very close," said McNulty. "I know with heavyweights they don't look like great conditioned athletes but Manny's in pretty good shape and by the end of the second round we could tell that he was wearing on him, and that ended up being the case because the kid couldn't get away from him in overtime."
The Eagles' Orlando DeLaCruz (113), Levi Pomeroy (126), Thane Baumer (145) and Trevor Olsen (195) remain in the consolation bracket.
Montgomery, ranked No. 1 for Ashland, was never really challenged in his quarterfinal win over Sandy's Jeremy Funk. Montgomery led 5-2 by the end of the first period and 8-3 heading into the third.
De Luca's day started with a 59-second pin and he controlled the action during his 10-3 quarterfinal win over Cascade's Colton Kohlmeyer. The Phoenix standout will face third-ranked freshman Travis Thompson of Banks in today's semis, with No. 2 seed Ryan Dozier of Cascade still in contention in the opposite semifinal.
"He's doing what he always does," Phoenix head coach John Farmer said of De Luca. "We're just trying to keep him on track and make sure he stays positive and ready to go."
Staying positive was tough for the rest of the Pirates, however, after some tough losses on Friday — none more stunning than what transpired at 132 pounds.
Senior Nick Renfro appeared to have rallied for a 10-9 upset of third-seeded Johnny Vara from North Marion in the quarterfinals before a secondary official ruled that Renfro lost control of Vara in the final second. Instead of advancing to the semis, Renfro could only watch helplessly minutes after the match while a point was added to Vara's score to force overtime. Vara scored a takedown 26 seconds into OT to gain a 12-10 win.
"We've been in some matches, they just didn't go our way," said Farmer. "I didn't think we were all going to come up here and place but it would've been nice to get one or two more through."
Besides Renfro, the Pirates also have sophomore Ismael Rubio (160) remaining in the consolation bracket.
Roseburg has all but locked up a third straight 6A title with almost twice as many points (102) as second-place Sprague (53), while Dallas finds itself in a tight battle for the 5A crown with Pendleton as only five points separate the teams.
Cascade leads the 4A race with 91 points, slightly ahead of Crook County (88) and defending champion Henley (84). Willamina stands first in 3A action with 81 points, with Illinois Valley tied for fourth at 55 points.
TEAM SCORES (Top 10) — Roseburg 102, Sprague 53, David Douglas 50, Redmond 44, Oregon City 43, Crater 40.5, Hillsboro 40, Grants Pass 37.5, Canby 34.5, McNary 34.5.
OTHER LOCAL SCORES — 23t, North Medford 13; 37t, South Medford 1.
106 — Casey Coulter, Grants Pass, tech. fall Max McGee, Glencoe, 5:01; 113 — Garrett Rider, Newberg, pinned Zachary Nance, Grants Pass, 3:40; 120 — Morgan Walters, Crater, dec. Jeramiah Baker, David Douglas, 7-2;
138 — Luke Collins, Grants Pass, pinned Rawley Warren, Canby, 1:46; 145 — Kody Gray, Crater, dec. Keith Nichols, Canby, 3-2; 160 — Taylor Becker, Clackamas, dec. Chase Mackey, Crater, 9-2; 170 — Ryan Shean, Grants Pass, pinned Michael Schrader, Glencoe, 1:17;
182 — Conner Cheel, Tualatin, dec. Kaden Johnson, North Medford, 5-4; 195 — Chance Fahndrich, Crater, dec. Chris Lindholm, Century, 9-4; 220 — Michael McCoy, Oregon City, pinned Derek Turituri, Crater, :33; 285 — Erick Franco, Tigard, dec. Marlon Campos, North Medford, 5-3.
TEAM SCORES (Top 10) — Dallas 83, Pendleton 78, Churchill 61.5, Hermiston 58.5, Eagle Point 57, West Albany 48.5, Hood River Valley 46.5, Sandy 42, Lebanon 41.5, Silverton 37.
OTHER LOCAL SCORES — 24, Ashland 9.
113 — Tyler Renfro, Dallas, dec. Orlando De La Cruz, Eagle Point, 8-2; 120 — Aaron Lorenz, pinned TJ Hancock, Pendleton, 1:39; 145 — Brennan King, Crescent Valley, pinned Thane Baumer, Eagle Point, 4:26; Wyatt Passantino, Dallas, dec. Travis Woods, Eagle Point, 3-2;
160 — Kyle Bateman, Sandy, pinned Caleb Ash, Eagle Point, 3:33; 182 — Johnny Wilkerson, Eagle Point, dec. Nick Morgan, Hood River Valley, 9-7; 195 — Mason Montgomery, Ashland, dec. Jeremy Funk, Sandy, 10-4; 285 — Manny Valdovinos, Eagle Point, dec. Jalean Webb, Jefferson, 3-2 OT.
TEAM SCORES (Top 10) — Cascade 91, Crook County 88, Henley 84, Sweet Home 75, Ontario 42, Tillamook 36.5, Elmira 36, North Marion 34.5, Mazama 33, Stayton 30.
OTHER LOCAL SCORES — 15, Phoenix 24; 26, Hidden Valley 12; 35t, North Valley 1.
132 — Johnny Vara, North Marion, dec. Nick Renfro, Phoenix, 12-10 OT; 138 — Shane Sheppard, Stayton, pinned Braden Vega, Phoenix, 1:51; 145 — Eleazar De Luca, Phoenix, dec. Colton Kohlmeyer, Cascade, 10-3; 152 — Seth Sotelo, Hidden Valley, dec. Steven Groce, Yamhill-Carlton, 7-5; 285 — Semise Kofe, Roosevelt, dec. Steven Sharbono, Phoenix, 7-0.
TEAM SCORES (Top 10) — Willamina 81, Nyssa 69, Glide 57, Dayton 55, Illinois Valley 55, Vale 48, Burns, 40, Riverside 40, Waldport 27, Gervais 25.
OTHER LOCAL SCORES — 13, Rogue River 23.
106 — Eric Miller, Illinois Valley, pinned Gilberto Silva, Riverside, 3:45; 120 — Michael Gentry, Dayton, won by forfeit over Aaron Longtain, Rogue River; Julio Mendez, Nyssa, pinned Danny Hill, Illinois Valley, 1:39; 126 — Brandon Parker, Illinois Valley, pinned Mario Ramos, Vale, 4:38; 132 — Logan Miller, Illinois Valley, pinned Ty Schmunk, Rainier, 3:55; Brennan Olson, Colton, dec. Gabe Miller, Illinois Valley, 10-7;
152 — Mykal Stewart, Willamina, pinned TJ Hughey, Illinois Valley, 5:13; 160 — Jon Britt, Illinois Valley, dec. TJ Greenhill, Willamina, 7-4; 182 — Garrett Dees, Rogue River, pinned Cody Wilcox, Vale, 3:09; 195 — Ricky Mametiev-Diaz, Gervais, dec. Julian Northrup, Illinois Valley, 10-6; 220 — Cody Worthington, Rogue River, pinned Austin Bowlin, Dayton, 1:48; 285 — Christian Rodriguez, Vale, dec. Doug Francis, Rogue River, 6-3.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry