Forced out as the head football coach at Eagle Point High in January, Jacob Schauffler wasn't sure what direction he would go in the early aftermath...
Each wrestling team left the Rogue Valley Championships with a little something to hang its hat on Saturday, but none more than Eagle Point.
The Class 5A Eagles crowned three champions and had two runner-up showings to run away with a tournament that went 20 teams deep, counting junior varsity squads, at North Medford High. Eagle Point's JV team actually held the No. 4 overall spot for most of the afternoon until it slipped behind North Medford's varsity for fifth place.
"It was a good performance on those guys scoring separately," EP head coach Kacey McNulty said of his varsity and JV each finishing among the top five. "Once we combine teams we'll really be pulling some points out, so that's exciting."
Eight schools had at least one champion in the 14 weight classes, with Eagle Point, Illinois Valley and Phoenix placing five varsity wrestlers in the finals to lead the charge. The Eagles actually had a sixth finalist with JV Damian Gonzalez at 126.
Eagle Point scored 200 points to win the team title, followed by Illinois Valley (170), Phoenix (150.5), North Medford (140) and the Eagle Point JV (114).
"Eagle Point's tough, they deserved it," said North Medford head coach Nolan Harris. "They wrestled well."
Mikey Johnson (106), Levi Pomeroy (126) and James McCoy (152) finished first for the Eagles, while Taylor Mitchell (138), Thane Baumer (160) and Gonzalez (126) placed second.
"We had an overall good team performance but we still need to get rid of some of the errors that we're making," said McNulty. "There were kids that I thought should have done better and are better than what they ended up today. We're still in the process of working and refining things and getting better. It's not all there yet but, overall, we had a lot of kids do pretty well today."
Johnson pinned South Medford's Brandon Wolf in 4 minutes, 25 seconds to secure his title, while Pomeroy received an injury default from his teammate at 126 and McCoy was especially impressive in scoring an 8-0 major decision over Phoenix's Kyle Bradfield.
"McCoy's doing well this season," said McNulty. "He didn't get a pin there but it's kind of a tough situation because the last time we wrestled (Bradfield) we got a pin and so he was really trying to avoid that this time."
Runner-up Illinois Valley crowned three champions as well in Gabe Miller (138), Logan Miller (145) and TJ Huey (160), while Brandon Parker (132) and John Britt (182) finished second for the Cougars.
"I feel good about it when you consider we only had 10 kids," said IV head coach Jay Miller of his team's finish. "We have some good kids so it's not a bad day for us. We had some really good things happen today."
Gabe Miller picked apart EP's Mitchell in the final for a 12-1 major decision and was named the outstanding wrestler for the lower weights.
Logan Miller built an early 4-0 lead on Phoenix's Braden Vega before having the tables turned near the end of the second period for a 7-5 deficit. Undaunted, he caught Vega in a bad position midway through the third period and secured a pin in 5:07.
Huey and EP's Baumer waged a tight battle at 160, with Huey opening a 5-2 lead in the third period before Baumer caught fire with a late surge that saw him tie the match at 6-all with 10 seconds to go. In overtime, both wrestlers worked hard to stave off exhaustion but it finally caught up to Baumer on a restart with an ill-advised shot that Huey easily worked around for an 8-6 victory.
"That's not what I wanted him to do in overtime," said McNulty. "We had the kid tired and then we go and take a shot that was too far away. It was a good shot but when he gets extended like that, he puts himself in a bad situation, and late in a match you don't want to be stretched out because that's what happens. I hate losing overtime matches and I know he doesn't like losing either so we'll go back and work on that."
One wrestler who didn't show he had much to work on Saturday was North Medford's Reid Shipley, who was impressive in being named outstanding wrestler for the upper weights. Shipley scored three pins — all in 94 seconds or less — to make quick work of his opponents at 170.
In the finals, the top-ranked Shipley took out Phoenix's Izzy Rubio in 72 seconds.
"Reid looked real tough," said Harris. "He pinned a tough kid in Rubio. He's been doing a good job of picking up falls this year and hasn't lost to an Oregon kid so he's having a great season so far."
Black Tornado teammates Trent Wilson (182) and Avion Maloney (285) also won tourney titles, while Jacob Kasper (220 placed second for a North team minus a handful of regulars due to illness.
"It was frustrating hearing team scores around the middleweights because all our lightweights were the ones that were out or sick or hurt or something," added Harris. "It was good for our heavyweights to come through like that."
Senior Austyn Snow (132) was the lone Phoenix wrestler out of five finalists to earn a championship. Snow found himself in an early deficit to IV's Parker in a match that lacked much rhythm thanks to a few timeouts to clarify rulings by the referee. A late reversal and near fall allowed Snow to slip past Parker for a 7-5 triumph.
"Austyn Snow really stepped it up," said Phoenix head coach John Farmer. "He's been doing that all year long, just getting better and better. I think he knows it's his senior year and he's ready to make a run at whatever he can do. I was proud of the way he wrestled."
The Pirates also had a runner-up showing from Hunter McCalister (113).
South Medford crowned a champion at 120 in Luis Ayala, while Ashland's Mason Montgomery won the title at 195.
Rogue Valley Championships
TEAM SCORES — Eagle Point 200, Illinois Valley 170, Phoenix 150.5, North Medford 140, Eagle Point JV 114, Lakeview 97, Ashland 91.5, South Medford 72, North Medford JV 64, Hidden Valley 49.5, South Umpqua 48, Rogue River 36, Lakeview JV 20, Hidden Valley JV 16, Phoenix JV 7, South Medford JV 4, Ashland JV 4, South Umpqua JV 0, Rogue River JV 0.
106 — Mikey Johnson, EP, pinned Brandon Wolf, SM, 4:25; 113 — Chris Bowers, SU, pinned Hunter McCalister, Pho, 2:45; 120 — Luis Ayala, SM, pinned Mack Crandall, Lake, 1:19; 126 — Levi Pomeroy, EP, injury default over Damian Gonzalez, EPJV; 132 — Austyn Snow, Pho, dec. Brandon Parker, IV, 7-5.
138 — Gabe Miller, IV, major dec. Taylor Mitchell, EP, 12-1; 145 — Logan Miller, IV, pinned Braden Vega, Pho, 5:07; 152 — James McCoy, EP, major dec. Kyle Bradfield, Pho, 8-0; 160 — TJ Huey, IV, dec. Thane Baumer, EP, 8-6 OT.
170 — Reid Shipley, NM, pinned Izzy Rubio, Pho, 1:12; 182 — Trent Wilson, NM, dec. John Britt, IV, 7-5; 195 — Mason Montgomery, Ash, dec. Brad Hyatt, HV, 5-2; 220 — Tony Frank, Lake, dec. Jacob Kasper, NM, 9-3; 285 — Avion Maloney, NM, pinned Dylan Amerson, Lake, 2:17.
106 — Jared Hoppins, HV, pinned Tarquin Daley, Ash, 2:23; 113 — Christian Torrico, EPJV, dec. Manny Pimentel, IV, 9-2; 120 — Eric Miller, IV, dec. Loren Denn, EP, 8-2; 126 — Wyatt Tarditi, SU, dec. Knute Thompson, Pho, 7-1; 132 — Eddie Perez-Rivera, EPJV, dec. Alek Callahan, EP, 7-2.
138 — Cole Hornbrook, NM, pinned Steven Hedlund, LakeJV, :46; 145 — Sherman Hammond, EP, pinned Chris Bowland, Ash, 2:43; 152 — Ethan Pomeroy, EPJV, dec. Chance Anderson, HV, 6-5; 160 — Kiefer Hogge, RR, pinned Nathan Harlan, Lake, 2:45.
170 — Caleb Ash, EP, major dec. Sean McKenzie, EPJV, 12-4; 182 — Tyler Rice, NMJV, pinned Gage Bailey, EP, 5:42; 195 — Kaden Johnson, NM, pinned Skyler Black, NMJV, 1:07; 220 — Cody Eisenberg, Ash, tech. fall Cory Raffensperger, Pho, 16-1; 285 — Daniel Martinez, LakeJV, pinned Robert Faas, NMJV, 1:06.