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PORTLAND — His thumb and index finger in a circle and the other three fingers on each hand thrust straight in the air, Phoenix's Eleazar De Luca left no doubt what he was about Saturday night at the state wrestling tournament in Memorial Coliseum.
Looking as focused as ever, De Luca capped a remarkable four-year run with the Pirates by earning his third straight state title in his fourth Class 4A championship final. The Arizona State-bound senior shook off a bloody nose, cracked headgear and a head-on collision with second-ranked Ryan Dozier of Cascade to secure an 11-6 triumph that wasn't nearly as close as the score might indicate.
"It would've taken a real lot for him not to go out there and get the job done," said Phoenix head coach John Farmer. "He was 100 percent focused and so aggressive on the whistle."
So aggressive, in fact, that if you blinked you would have missed his match-opening takedown, which set the tone for things to come.
"It was pretty much just the way we thought it would go," added Farmer. "I didn't think he'd get a takedown that quick, it seemed like he got a takedown in about two seconds."
It actually took De Luca four seconds to score on Dozier, who had lost 15-5 to De Luca earlier this season at the Coast Classic and wasn't too eager to try an aggressive approach again. Despite his foe's cautious approach, De Luca still managed a 9-2 lead in the second period.
"I felt good the whole time," said De Luca, who became Phoenix's second three-time state champion behind David Vizzini, who totaled four titles from 1988-91. "I wanted to get after it and wrestle my best in my last state championship. If you go out there to compete, have fun and love it, you'll do great things and succeed."
The initial shot wound up creating a nose bleed for De Luca, which caused a delay, and then the match was further delayed moments later when his headgear came apart and needed to be taped up. On the next restart, De Luca and Dozier each shot at the same time, crashing head-to-head to leave Dozier dazed as he fell to the mat and De Luca unsure how to proceed as he sat on top with a 4-1 lead.
"The thing that's always impressive is that when he shoots, he just knocks people off their feet," Farmer said of De Luca, who capped his Phoenix career with a 155-10 record. "There's hardly any time for them to react and they're falling backwards. That's a rare thing in wrestling where you're that explosive that you can knock a man straight back."
Still, there was a moment of hesitation on the Phoenix sidelines in the aftermath of the wrestlers' collision.
"When you hit head-to-head like that you don't know who's going to come out of it hurt," said Farmer. "Luckily we didn't get too banged up there. It could've been a bad situation."
"That was our big fear," added the coach, "that he'd either somehow get injured or maybe do something to injure somebody else. The headgear we never even thought about and then we went scrambling, just in case it turned into an issue, to go borrow another one."
Assistant coach David May found a willing helper in Hermiston's Joey Delgado, who earlier earned his fourth state title, but De Luca's impromptu tape job held steady for the rest of the match.
After a lengthy delay to clear the cobwebs for Dozier, De Luca scored another takedown to lead 6-2 after one period, then pounced some more to go up 9-2 entering the final period. Up 11-3 with 35 seconds to go, De Luca wound up watching the clock a little and allowed an escape and the first takedown against him in the tournament in the final seconds.
With another title in hand, De Luca's first thoughts went to those who helped make it all possible.
"It feels happy and sad at the same time," he said. "I realize I just finished my last high school match I'm ever going to wrestle for Phoenix High School and it's been an honor to be coached by John Farmer, David May and Sean Willis. I really can't be here without them, honestly."
The only thing that would have made it sweeter was to have some teammates along for the ride Saturday, but Nick Renfro (132) and Ismael Rubio (160) each lost their first consolation match to miss out on becoming state placers (top six).
Hidden Valley senior Seth Sotelo was the only 4A state placer from the Rogue Valley, placing third at 152 when he pinned No. 4 seed Mikael Hill of Philomath in 2:37.
Cascade and defending champion Henley waged a tight battle for the 4A crown, with Cascade pulling out the triumph, 188 to 185.5.
In Class 3A action, Rogue River senior Cody Worthington advanced to the championship finals against No. 2 seed Chansler Pacheco of Dayton at 220 but couldn't complete a tournament sweep. Pacheco secured a pin in 3:51.
The Chieftains also secured two other state placers in Andrew Smith (fifth at 170) and Garrett Dees (sixth at 182).
On the strength of six state placers, Illinois Valley finished fifth in the team standings. The Cougars' top showing was produced by junior Gabe Miller, who finished third at 132 with a 3-0 decision over Josh Hendrickson of Harrisburg.
Placing fifth for Illinois Valley were Eric Miller (106), Danny Hill (120), Brandon Parker (126), Logan Miller (132) and Jon Britt (160).
Nyssa snapped Burns' streak of 10 straight 3A titles dating back to 2002 by edging Willamina 171-165. Phoenix was the 3A champion in 2001.
State Wrestling Results
TEAM SCORES (Top 10) — Cascade 188, Henley 185.5, Sweet Home 144, Crook County 141, North Marion 70.5, Ontario 70, Stayton 66, Elmira 62, Mazama 62, Tillamook 55.5.
OTHER LOCAL SCORES — Phoenix 40, Hidden Valley 23, Klamath Union 15.5.
106 — Tyler Scott, Henley, dec. Kaleb Winebarger, Mazama, 8-4; 113 — Zech Bresser, Henley, pinned Donny Wenlund, Estacada, :46; 120 — Ronnie Bresser, Henley, dec. Colton Schilling, Sweet Home, 7-4; 126 — Jake Stigall, North Marion, dec. Collbran Meeker, Crook County, 17-4; 132 — Zorg Loustalet, Henley, dec. Miguel Vasquez, Madras, 8-1.
138 — Lucas Randall, North Marion, dec. Tyler Cowger, Sweet Home, 9-2; 145 — Eleazar Deluca, Phoenix, dec. Ryan Dozler, Cascade, 11-6; 152 — Ryan Bullock, McLoughlin, dec. Kole McGann, Molalla, 7-3; 160 — Josh Stanley, Cottage Grove, dec. Francisco Saldana, McLoughin, 7-5 OT; 170 — Tyler Howe, Cascade, dec. Tucker Cook, Tillamook, 8-3.
182 — Cody Crawford, Cascade, dec. Phillip Morgan, Henley, 10-0; 195 — Beau Grauf, Sutherlin, dec. Wade Paulus, Sweet Home, 5-3 OT; 220 — Travis Williams, Madras, dec. Sonny Tupua, Siuslaw, 3-1; 285 — Kyle Smith, Elmira, dec. Semise Kofe, Roosevelt, 3-0.
TEAM SCORES (Top 10) — Nyssa 171, Willamina 165, Glide 143.5, Dayton 125, Illinois Valley 92, Burns 89, Riverside 87, Vale 81, Gervais 52, Myrtle Point 52.
OTHER LOCAL SCORES — Rogue River 44.
106 — Hans Rockwell, Riverside, dec. Cody Brown, Willamina, 11-9; 113 — Skyler Voigt, Willamina, dec. Ben Norgren, Colton, 2-0; 120 — Justin Acuff, Sheridan, pinned Josh Perry, Willamina, 1:42; 126 — Walker Damewood, Glide, dec. Micah Cisneros, Dayton, 14-1; 132 — Brandon Miller, Willamina, dec. Dallin Widmer, Nyssa, 7-4.
138 — Tanner Canaday, Myrtle Point, dec. Seth Nonnenmacher, Burns, 9-5; 145 — Jake Forrester, Glide, dec. Jay Lysne, Lakeview, 2-1; 152 — Luke O'Connor, Glide, dec. Robert DeLeon, Nyssa, 2-1; 160 — Jacob White, Burns, dec. Sean Shipley, Rainier, 6-2; 170 — Austin Tolman, Vale, pinned Alex Cisneros, Nyssa, 5:49.
182 — Briton Hansen, Riverside, dec. Daniel Dickson, Dayton, 3-0; 195 — Sebastian Sanchez, Nyssa, dec. Cody Manzi, Santiam Christian, 9-3; 220 — Chansler Pacheco, Dayton, pinned Cody Worthington, Rogue River, 3:51; 285 — Jake Batease, Grant Union, dec. C.J. Osterman, 1-0.
132 — Gabe Miller, Illinois Valley, dec. Josh Hendrickson, Harrisburg, 3-0.
106 — Eric Miller, Illinois Valley, pinned Gilberto Silva, Riverside, 2:41; 120 — Danny Hill, Illinois Valley, pinned Thomas Cain, Burns, 4:42; 126 — Brandon Parker, Illinois Valley, pinned Lane Cummings, Vale, 1:45; 132 — Logan Miller, Illinois Valley, dec. Brennan Olson, Colton, 11-5; 160 — Jon Britt, Illinois Valley, dec. Beau Blackburn, Burns, 15-6.
170 — Andrew Smith, Rogue River, dec. Tyler Heidt, Willamina, 16-2; 182 — Loren Traw, Harrisburg, dec. Garrett Dees, Rogue River, 15-4.
TEAM SCORES (Top 10) — Culver 132, Lowell 118.5, Gold Beach 68, Crane 65, Neah-Kah-Nie 60, Vernonia 60, Enterprise 49, Nestucca 47, Central Linn 32, Hosanna Christian 31.
106 — Quinton Hook, Hosanna, dec. Joe Fine, Oakridge, 11-2; 113 — Noe Gonzalez, Culver, pinned Austin Roath, Crane, 1:21; 120 — Tucker Davis, Culver, dec. Valery Silva, Nestucca, 4-1; 126 — Jared Kasch, Culver, dec. Alejandro Quintana, Neah-Kah-Nie, 16-10; 132 — Alex Herrera, Gold Beach, dec. Josue Gonzalez, Culver, 3-2.
138 — Kyle Johnston, Gold Beach, dec. Josh Cardwell, Lowell, 8-0; 145 — Quinn Johnston, Gold Beach, dec. Zach Cody, Crane, 9-0; 152 — Jesus Retano, Culver, dec. Jaxon Ward, Lowell, 11-9 OT; 160 — Lincoln Casarez, Lowell, pinned Austin McNichols, Lowell, 3:45; 170 — Kipp Miller, Pine Eagle, dec. Nicco Cash, Lowell, 5-4.
182 — Max Casarez, Lowell, dec. Jake Stevens, Vernonia, 10-7; 195 — Justin Hendrix, Culver, dec. Brett Benes, Vernonia, 12-8; 220 — David Henry, Oakland, pinned Arashi Pierre, Knappa, :53; 285 — Josh Parazoo, Scio, dec. Jacob Jeffries, Riddle, 6-4.
220 — Drace Moeller, Nestucca, pinned Kody Worthington, North Lake, :58.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry