Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
Wrestling is always a weighty proposition, but how does that change when you're a Division I football recruit and size is at a premium?
That question came to mind Saturday when it was learned that Crater High star linebacker Derrick Turituri, who placed fourth at last year's Class 6A wrestling state tournament at 220 pounds, was wrestling up at heavyweight for the Army Strong Coast Classic in North Bend.
Turituri is one of southern Oregon's finest athletes but it's clear that he's far closer to weighing 220 than the 285-pound limit placed on those in the heavyweight class.
Any thoughts on a hands-off policy when it comes to the 234-pound Turituri were dismissed Monday by Comets head coach Greg Haga, who said it's a non-issue what weight class the senior has chosen, and that football hasn't been a factor in any of it.
Turituri expects to sign a letter of intent to play football at the University of Arizona in February and one wouldn't blame him for spending every waking moment away from his schoolwork trying to build muscle and body mass to help him assimilate to the college level.
Coming in at a sturdy 240 pounds certainly could make him more attractive and capable of handling a bigger workload for the Wildcats when fall camp arrives, but Haga is confident one thing doesn't come at the expense of another when it comes to body mass and wrestling.
"I think he's a great example of all this misconception that just because you wrestle you lose weight," said Haga. "He started at 211 and finished at 218 last year because he worked out extra and ate extra."
To be clear, it's not like Turituri was terribly overwhelmed this past weekend in his first action on the mat. He finished fourth with limited practice and training, and showed last year the kind of athlete he truly is when he won the regional championship and placed fourth at state in his first year of wrestling.
"I think he can battle either way," Haga said of Turituri wrestling at 220 or 285. "The difference is at heavyweight he's going to have to learn a little different style than last year. You don't shoot under that 270-pound guy like you do the others quite the same way."
To make it easier on everyone, Haga doesn't get involved in what weight class any of his wrestlers choose for the week or the season. He asks what they want to do and then that locks them in for that time frame.
"I don't tell kids which weight to go and I don't select it," he said. "As soon as you start getting involved where you're telling them where to go because of something you want it becomes your issue if they do have to cut weight and not their issue."
For now, it's Turituri's desire to wrestle at heavyweight and Haga has no qualms with it. Often overlooked is the fact that Turituri may be an elite football prospect, but he's not too shabby of a wrestler, either.
"I know that he's going to go on and play football at college but I think he's looking at winning the state title," said Haga, who has been in contact with Turituri's Arizona recruiters. "Football's very important to him but when it comes time to wrestle, the losses still hurt and he wants to be successful. I don't want it to get lost that he's a good wrestler, too, and he doesn't want that, either. He wants to do some things for himself this year and something special."
The fact that Turituri is at heavyweight now doesn't necessarily mean that's where he'll stay this season. The sport is full of movement up and down weight classes throughout the season and it's just a matter of where he wants to fit in that will determine Turituri's final landing place.
Still, Haga thinks it's all a moot point when you're talking about someone of Turituri's size.
"A big guy like him, losing 10 pounds isn't going to affect him one way or another," said the coach. "The way he eats, if he didn't eat between meals he'd probably be there anyway. It's not like a guy 150 pounds losing 10 pounds where it's a big part of their percentage. I guarantee if we do a body fat test on him right now and they do one in a month he's going to be a couple percent lighter and on a body that big two percent is probably five or six pounds. But that's not a concern of his, mine or anybody's."
Haga recalled a time when Cody Clark, a 2006 Crater graduate and dual-sport standout, was concerned about recovering any weight he might lose during the wrestling season because he had committed to play football for Idaho State.
"I just told him all the energy he puts in now will develop muscle and that weight comes back just with what they're doing naturally," said Haga. "Watching Derrick eat he's putting in his max calories anyway. I don't know that he's going to be able to do much more to gain weight faster than just maturity, as he goes from a young man to a man.
"If he went 220 all year this year starting now, I really don't think him being 240 next fall would be an issue. He'll lift in the offseason and summer and get down there and instead of one hour a day it'll be two hours a day in the weight room so there's plenty of time for that if that were a concern but nobody's said anything to me about that."
Haga said Turituri's biggest concern these days is simply getting in shape for wrestling. After weight lifting Monday the teenager went out for a one-mile run, just so he could be better prepared for Friday and Saturday's Grants Pass Winter Kickoff.
"He's got a great work ethic," said Haga.
The same goes for the rest of the Comets, who started off with a pretty solid effort last weekend at the Coast Classic, placing sixth. They were paced by third-place showings from sophomores Dillon Ulrey and Nate Walters.
"Compared to last year, I think we're in a better place and getting some people a few more workouts to get their weight down to get more strong and where they want to be," said Haga.
The 138-pound Walters rebounded from a first-match loss to go undefeated over his next six matches. The 145-pound Ulrey, however, used a stunning second-match pin of Churchill's Housten Ezell — a three-time 5A state finalist and the tourney's top seed — to vault into the semifinals.
Ulrey actually led 4-2 with eight seconds to go in his semifinal match against Vagif Afrasov of David Douglas before giving up a takedown to send the match into overtime. Ulrey was taken down in the extra session to keep him from wrestling for a championship that Afrasov ultimately won, 3-1 in overtime, against Roseburg's Brody Faas.
PROSPECT'S FOOTBALL PROGRAM was recently forced to vanquish all of its victories this past season after the Oregon School Activities Association's Executive Board ruled that the Cougars had used an ineligible participant in all 10 of its varsity games. The OSAA also assessed a $100 fine.
Instead of a promising 6-4 campaign that included a 5-4 showing in District 2 play, Prospect's final record reverts to 0-10 and 0-9 in league.
Due to the change, Butte Falls now goes from a winless campaign in 2012 to a 2-8 overall season and 1-7 record in District 2 play after absorbing two of Prospect's forfeits.
The ruling was one of 37 made by the Executive Board at last week's meeting on school violations, with a handful of those actions under appeal.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry