For yet another year, Roseburg’s wrestling contingent was simply too much to overcome in the Southwest Conference district championships despite the best efforts of their counterparts.
Having earned the last four Class 6A state championships and nine of the last 11 — Roseburg was runner-up in 2009 — it’s safe to say the Indians have found their niche under head coach Steve Lander.
Still, the Rogue Valley found itself well-represented in Saturday’s championship finals, although only North Medford standouts Chase Mitchell and Jullian Stone were able to finish the job and earn district titles at North Medford High.
“Some of our guys still qualified for state but we were maybe expecting them to do a little better than they did,” said North Medford head coach Phillip Lopez. “They’ve got to learn to get up and get ready for big matches and win those close matches. That’s the difference between Roseburg and everyone else throughout the state because those guys just know how to show up.”
Roseburg “showed up” to the tune of 10 champions and four runners-up among its 22 state qualifiers. The Indians easily claimed the SWC crown with 526.5 points ahead of second-place North Medford (326.5), Grants Pass (268.5) and South Medford (168.5).
Sheldon was fifth with 103.5 points, followed by Willamette (25) and a scoreless South Eugene.
“We got 15 through (to state) so I think that’s pretty good for us and what we were kind of shooting for,” added Lopez. “Anytime you get kids to go to state it’s a good thing.”
Mitchell, a second-ranked senior, scored a 6-0 decision over sophomore teammate Enrique Jaime (ranked fourth) in the 113-pound final, while the top-ranked Stone won the day’s marquee matchup when he outlasted South Medford senior Michael Cormier for a 2-1 decision at 220 pounds.
“It’s awesome to beat him,” said Stone, who now has two one-point wins over Cormier this season. “That’s the No. 3-ranked guy in the state so getting that ‘W’ is awesome.”
No space was given in the matchup between Stone and Cormier, with the local duo jostling through a scoreless first round before Stone opened the scoring with a quick escape in the second round.
It was 1-1 early in the third round after Cormier fought to his feet for an escape, but a stalling point after a first-round warning came back to haunt the South Medford standout as Stone moved ahead 2-1 and was able to keep his rival at bay for his championship.
Stone finished runner-up at heavyweight last year, while Cormier again had to settle for second at 220.
“That was just two good guys going at it, I just had to fight,” said Stone. “I wanted to win it more I feel like. I know he wanted to win it but I think I just had a little more fight in me to win it.”
While the match may have lacked a lot of open action, Lopez said Stone wrestled a smart match to keep Cormier off balance and away from any serious offensive maneuvers.
“Those guys don’t give an inch really,” said Lopez. “Jullian just finds ways to win. He’s a scrapper and he’s never the guy where someone’s pushing him out of bounds. He’s the guy that’s always wrestling his way of wrestling. It was good for him, he earned that win.”
Unfortunately for Lopez and the Black Tornado, there weren’t enough of those moments on Saturday.
Alex Silva (106), Benjamin Zeigler (126), Andres Ramirez (152) and Josh Robbins (195) each had to settle for second place after falling to Roseburg wrestlers in their championship finals.
Silva was pinned by Cameron Cross in 5 minutes, 22 seconds, while Zeigler suffered a similar fate to Thomas Spence, the top-seeded Ramirez fell 3-2 to No. 2 seed Austin David and Robbins lost 7-2 to Terrell Jacks. Cross, Spence and Jacks were all No. 1 seeds.
Placing third for North Medford were Jacob Watson (106), Griffin Gutches (120), Cole Zoller (132), Matthew Bryant (138), Thomas Hamilton (145) and Tanner Gaoiran (152). Also qualifying for state were fourth-place finisher Thomas Bates (195) and Romello Tealavea (285), who will take the place of injured fourth-place finisher Ethan Jacuinde of Grants Pass
“I think some of these guys that were top seeds that lost, that tells them that if I’m not preparing right and my head’s not right then I can get beat,” said Lopez. “That’s what happened in a handful of matches. We had leads on a lot of those Roseburg kids and they found a way to win and we found a way to lose. But now we have two weeks to get better.”
The gap between the district championships and the state meet will be a welcome one for work across town at South Medford, where the Panthers qualified four district runners-up in Cormier, Cole Schumack (170), Ryan Beck (182) and Nate Eli (285) and two fourth-place finishers in Killian Cosgrove (126) and Jaxin Kinler (170).
Eli’s match proved to be as close as one could get, with Sheldon’s Oscar Atterberry scoring an escape in the final 30-second overtime period for a 3-2 decision.
Atterberry and Eli had each earned escapes in the second and third rounds, respectively, to set up an initial sudden-victory overtime. No score was made in that one minute, and the wrestlers traded off escapes in the ensuing 30-second tiebreaker sessions to set the stage for one final overtime. Try as he might, Eli was unable to keep Atterberry from squirming away midway through the 30-second session.
“I tried to set up my offense and play my game and do my brand that I wrestle,” said Eli, who is ranked ninth at 285, “but it just didn’t work out for me tonight. I definitely couldn’t click on my offense as much as I wanted to.”
The overtime pressure didn’t faze Eli, it was just a lot to ask on this day of him against a determined Atterberry.
“All year I’ve been battling through overtimes and I’ve come out on top in most of them,” said the Panther senior. “From that standpoint I’m used to it. I’m comfortable going into overtime and doing whatever it takes to get the win, but tonight it just didn’t go my way.”
Schumack cut his deficit to 4-2 in the third round against top-seeded Garrett Russell of Roseburg but lost traction and fell 8-4, while Beck was pinned in 3:07 by top-seeded Brandon Jeffers of Roseburg.
“We’ve just got to execute better,” said South Medford head coach David Bage. “We looked sloppy on our feet and defensively we weren’t all there so this week we’ve got to work on a lot of defense. It’s also a mindset. We’ve got to find a way to get these guys prepared and sharp.”
Grants Pass standout Vincent Washington was the only other non-Roseburg wrestler to win a district title after he scored a 7-3 decision over the Indians’ Archer Bergeron at 138. The Cavemen, with the loss of Jacuinde, will take nine to the state meet.
SWC District Championships
TEAM RESULTS: Roseburg 526.5, North Medford 326.5, Grants Pass 268.5, South Medford 168.5, Sheldon 103.5, Willamette 25, South Eugene 0.
106 — Cameron Cross, Ros, pinned Alex Silva, NM, 5:22; 113 — Chase Mitchell, NM, dec. Enrique Jaime, NM, 6-0; 120 — Hunter Sparks, Ros, won by forfeit over Kahleb Diaz, Ros; 126 — Thomas Spence, Ros, pinned Benjamin Zeigler, NM, 5:20; 132 — Caleb Jeffers, Ros, pinned Adam Bratland, She, 4:21.
138 — Vincent Washington, GP, dec. Archer Bergeron, Ros, 7-3; 145 — Colin Rietmann, Ros, won by forfeit over Darian Thacker, Ros; 152 — Austin David, Ros, dec. Andres Ramirez, NM, 3-2; 160 — Logan Folsom, Ros, dec. Ethan Stoner, Ros, 5-4.
170 — Garrett Russell, Ros, dec. Cole Schumack, SM, 8-4; 182 — Brandon Jeffers, Ros, pinned Ryan Beck, SM, 3:07; 195 — Terrell Jacks, Ros, dec. Joshua Robbins, NM, 7-2; 220 — Julian Stone, NM, dec. Michael Cormier, SM, 2-1; 285 — Oscar Atterberry, She, dec. Nate Eli, SM, 3-2 OT.
106 — Jacob Watson, NM, pinned Kyle Bautista, GP, 5:28; 113 — Josef Miner, GP, pinned Carlos Estupinian-Blanco, GP, 1:33; 120 — Griffin Gutches, NM, major dec. Jayden Brown, GP, 21-10; 126 — Shaun Konig, Ros, dec. Killian Cosgrove, SM, 7-6; 132 — Cole Zoller, NM, dec. Tristin David, Ros, 3-1.
138 — Matthew Bryant, NM, dec. Devin Folk, Ros, 11-7; 145 — Thomas Hamilton, NM, pinned Teigan Jokumsen, GP, 5:25; 152 — Tanner Gaoiran, NM, injury def. Bryson Diaz, Ros, 2:00; 160 — Jerry Watts, GP, tech. fall Jared Edwards, GP, 5:16 (17-0).
170 — Rourke Martin, Ros, pinned Jaxin Kinler, SM, :38; 182 — Doran Gillespie, Ros, pinned Jase Brooks, Wil, 2:49; 195 — Owen Vredenburg, Ros, pinned Thomas Bates, NM, 1:27; 220 — Benjamin Lutz, She, dec. Cayden Gingery, Ros, 7-3; 285 — Sjoren Geiger, GP, pinned Mason Labahn, Ros, :28.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry