North Medford High wrestling coach Phillip Lopez isn't the type to get carried away.
PORTLAND — Crater supplied its usual second-day surge but it simply wasn't enough in the Class 6A wrestling state tournament Saturday at Memorial Coliseum.
The Comets advanced junior Tyler Thomas and senior Chase Mackey into the finals but neither was able to deliver another individual championship for Greg Haga and his program despite solid efforts. Crater was seeking at least one state champion for the eighth time in the past 10 years.
"With everything we went through this year, our kids wrestled their tails off," said Haga. "We finished (sixth) and really not that far out of fifth. I'm real proud of our kids; it was a great job."
David Douglas edged Oregon City for the 6A team title, 146-126.5, while Roseburg was denied a fourth straight title and finished third at 120. Hillsboro (117.5), McMinnville (87) and Crater (80) rounded out the top six teams.
With injuries taking their toll on Crater throughout the season and the Comets suffering a rough opening-day performance at the state tourney, to finish as high as they did was a testament to their resolve and was exemplified by Thomas and Mackey. Neither second-place wrestler had ever made it into the top six at state.
"It's been a great season," said Mackey, a senior 160-pounder whose previous high was seventh as a freshman. "I came into the season looking to do good, but this beats my expectations. I'm happy to be here. Second place is all right."
Mackey opened a 2-0 lead on top-seeded Elijah Taylor of David Douglas but couldn't maintain that edge. Taylor eventually tied the match at 3-all in the second period and then used an escape and a crisp double-leg takedown to score a 6-3 triumph.
"It was wild," said Mackey, who was seeded second. "I came out with the first takedown and was feeling good, but then he got that quick escape (in the third) and took me right back down. It was a dogfight. His motor just keeps going and he's really strong. The more the match went on the faster he was going."
Haga said Mackey actually wrestled a strategically solid match against Taylor, remaining patient when looking for an opening and controlling the tie-ups fairly well.
"We had a couple chances and we missed out a little bit, but Chase had a great tournament up here," added the head coach. "He pinned the first three opponents (all in under two minutes) and then got into the state finals, that's pretty good."
Thomas and Roseburg sophomore Chad Jones waged another nip-and-tuck battle in their 120-pound final, with Jones scoring a takedown with seven seconds to go to win 3-1. All five of their matches this season — each had two wins heading into Saturday — were determined by two points, twice in overtime.
"It was a tough match," said Thomas, who beat Jones 3-1 en route to the Reser's Tournament of Champions title and 5-3 in a dual meet. "Every time I've been offensive I've won and the last two times I haven't been offensive at all and that's really made a difference. I didn't put any effort into my shots. I kinda just fell through."
Each wrestler did a good job thwarting the other until Jones was cut loose by Thomas for an escape 38 seconds into the second period. That score stood up until the third period, when Jones had no choice but to cut Thomas loose with 1:05 remaining in the match for a 1-all tie.
Jones went for a single-leg takedown with 30 seconds left and was initially turned back by Thomas, who grabbed his foe's knee and appeared in line for his own takedown before Jones ultimately gained control with second seconds left.
"I felt pretty good there when he got that knee and started sliding to the side a little bit," Haga said of Thomas' chances. "Jones did a pretty good job of capturing his far ankle and kinda bumped into him and put him on a hip. It could've gone either way, but we can always make it go our way a lot easier if we're the aggressor."
The top-seeded Jones previously beat Thomas 5-3 at the Oregon Classic and 6-4 in overtime at the District 4 Regional Championships. Despite the loss, which also left Thomas with an injured right shoulder, the unseeded junior said he was pleased with his first season at Crater.
"Overall through the year I became so much better than last year," said Thomas, who transferred after two years at South Medford. "Last year I didn't even make it to the second day at state to now becoming second at state this year. I wanted to become a two-time state champion, but I obviously didn't work hard enough."
Thomas earned his spot in the finals with a 12-2 major decision over McMinnville's Bryce Branson.
Grants Pass junior Kjell Thorsen advanced to the 145 finals as the No. 2 seed but lost by technical fall, 19-4, to top-seeded Devin Reynolds of McNary in 5:46.
The Comets also received a boost in the consolation bracket as senior Derrick Turituri rebounded from a tournament-opening loss to place third at 285, and freshman Tommy Winningham finished fourth at 138.
Turituri had been pinned by Aloha freshman Cortez Rodelo in 22 seconds on Friday but won the rematch with a 5-0 decision. Winningham also recovered from an overtime loss that started his tournament experience but couldn't overcome second-seeded Zach Zehner of Sprague in the third-place final.
Earlier Saturday, Zehner ousted third-seeded Crater sophomore Dillon Ulrey, 3-2.
North Medford didn't fare as well as the Comets in the semifinal round, with second-seeded Reid Shipley losing a 7-5 decision to McMinnville's Tiger Paasch at 170 and Trent Wilson falling 16-8 to No. 1 seed John Morin of Hillsboro. Paasch and Morin went on to win state titles.
Shipley's semifinal proved to be a nail-biter as he stormed back from a 5-0 deficit to tie the match with Paasch, whom he beat last summer during the freestyle season, at 5-5 with 85 seconds left. Shipley was working on turning Paasch in the middle of the mat when blood time was called for the No. 3 seed with 26 seconds to go.
On the restart, Shipley was called for locking hands and Paasch also escaped to make it 7-5 with 16 seconds to go. The North Medford senior then swooped in for a takedown but was a second too late.
"We had (Paasch) broken down and tired and he got a little blood time break and found a little more to dig down there and was able to escape," said North Medford head coach Nolan Harris.
In his semifinal, Wilson went down 7-2 early and couldn't find an answer for Morin.
The Black Tornado duo eventually battled back into the third-place final but neither could prevail and each placed fourth.
"Both Reid and Trent were able to come back after a disappointing loss right to the next round and pick up a win and that shows character," said Harris, whose team finished 13th overall. "We're proud of that. Unfortunately it didn't go our way for the third- and fourth-place match."
In the battle for third, Shipley suffered a 6-4 loss to Oregon City's Tanner Fischer, whom he had beaten 5-2 in Friday's quarterfinals. Wilson had his match with Michael Griffin within a point at 3-2 in the third before the Oregon City wrestler pulled away for a 7-3 decision.
"You'd like to see Shipley end his career on a win and Trent end on a win but sometimes it doesn't happen that way," said Harris. "In Reid's case, it's tough to beat a kid twice. Revenge is a big factor in high school wrestling and that worked against us here."
Shipley and Wilson were vying to become North Medford's first state champion since Medford split high schools in 1986.
"This is a heartbreaking tournament just in general," said Harris. "You always have kids that do well and kids that don't. We wanted to finish higher than we did and as a coaching staff we're going to try to figure out why."
North Medford senior Austin Mitchell, seeded second at 106, lost out on his chance to finish as a state placer after suffering a 6-4 loss to South Eugene's Jacob Cytrynbaum in the first match Saturday. Mitchell had beaten Cytrynbaum twice this season, most recently at the district tourney by a 10-2 major decision.
Tornado senior Kaden Johnson was the only one from his team to win that opening match but his path was detoured by a head injury suffered in a match with his teammate Wilson. Johnson, seeded third, was forced to forfeit the match with Wilson and the one after that and placed sixth at 182.
Defending champion Casey Coulter of Grants Pass was pinned with 38 seconds left in his semifinal match at 113 by Devin Poppen of Oregon City but recovered to place third. Caver Michael Vanlohuizen placed sixth at 195. As a team, Grants Pass placed 12th.
TEAM SCORES (Top 10) — David Douglas 146, Oregon City 126.5, Roseburg 120, Hillsboro 117.5, McMinnville 87, Crater 80, Sprague 79, McNary 74, West Linn 72, Aloha 62.
OTHER LOCAL SCORES — 12, Grants Pass 54; 13, North Medford 48; 33, South Medford 4.
106 — Raymond Smith, North Salem, dec. Jorge Fuentes, Centennial, 3-2; 113 — Kaleb Raber, Sprague, dec. Devin Poppen, Oregon City, 12-7; 120 — Chad Jones, Roseburg, dec. Tyler Thomas, Crater, 3-1; 126 — Kyle Sether, Oregon City, dec. Tim Tsukanov, Barlow, 7-1; 132 — Jared Sublet, McMinnville, dec. David Nelson, Gresham, 7-3.
138 — Vagif Afrasov, David Douglas, dec. Tim Harman, West Linn, 3-1 ot; 145 — Devin Reynolds, McNary, tech. fall, Kjell Thorsen, Grants Pass, 5:46; 152 — Reed Van Anrooy, Roseburg, pinned JT Barnes, McMinnville, 3:32; 160 — Elijah Taylor, David Douglas, dec. Chase Mackey, Crater, 6-3.
170 — Tiger Paasch, McMinnville, pinned Tyler Chay, West Linn, 1:49; 182 — John Morin, Hillsboro, dec. Quincy Clarkson, David Douglas, 10-2; 195 — Ihoghama Odighizuwa, David Douglas, pinned Kyle Anderegg, Clackamas, 5:53; 220 — Austin Faunce, Lake Oswego, dec. Michael McCoy, Oregon City, 3-2; 285 — Chet Spears, Sheldon, forfeit over Wyatt Spears, Sheldon.
113 — Casey Coulter, Grants Pass, dec. Dauki Willburn, 4-2; 138 — Zach Zehner, Sprague, pinned Tommy Winningham, Crater, 1:58; 170 — Tanner Fischer, Oregon City, dec. Reid Shipley, North Medford, 6-4; 182 — Michael Griffin, Oregon City, dec. Trent Wilson, North Medford, 7-3; 285 — Derrick Turituri, Crater, dec. Cortez Rodelo, Aloha, 5-0.
182 — Thomas Ayala, David Douglas, forfeit over Kaden Johnson, North Medford; 195 — Jeremy Husted, McKay, pinned Michael Vanlohuizen, Grants Pass, 6:35 ot.