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Morse quite a force for Comets

Ezra Morse, who also excels in the classroom, takes a 31-4 record into the Southern Oregon Conference meet today.

Ezra Morse is one of those wrestlers opponents hate to see coming their way.

He's aggressive. He's ornery. He knows every move in the book. And he's as relentless as a pit bull chasing the postman.

He's in your face, Crater coach Greg Haga says. He's just flat tough.

Morse will be the favorite to win the 171-pound weight class at the Southern Oregon Conference district wrestling meet that kicks off at 11 a.m. today at Mazama High School in Klamath Falls. He's won 31 of his 35 matches and has pinned most of the SOC competitors he's faced.

Morse will settle for nothing less than a district championship and a berth in the Class 4A state tournament Feb. 26-28 in Portland.

I've worked too hard and spent too many hours in the wrestling room not to be rewarded, says Morse, who finished second at district a year ago. This is my senior year and I'm not going to be satisfied with anything less than a state championship.

For someone who barely won a match as a freshman and couldn't crack the varsity lineup as a sophomore, Morse has come a long way.

I never won a tournament until last year and I've been wrestling since the fourth grade, Morse says. I didn't take it seriously when I was younger.

Morse became discouraged when he got to high school and the losses kept mounting, but once he made a commitment to not let anyone outwork him, the L's turned to W's.

Former Crater standout Mike Archibald, who was a senior when Morse was a freshman, inspired him to rachet up his work ethic.

He told me that he, too, got pounded on as a freshman and that I could become a good wrestler if I totally dedicated myself to the sport, Morse says.

Morse came on strong last season, winning two overtime matches at district that launched him into the finals, where he lost to Jordan Goulette of Grants Pass.

Morse then won his first match at state before back-to-back losses ended his season.

Eager to become one of the top grapplers in the state, Morse began extra conditioning during football. He and Mike Lee, one of the Comets' other top wrestlers, ran 240-yard sprints after everyone else had left the field and gone to the locker room.

The added conditioning allowed Morse to dominate opponents in the Comets' opening tournament, and he's been crunching foes ever since.

Even in his losses, Morse has been impossible to control. He took Michael Pierce of Barlow, the No. 1-ranked 171-pounder in the state, to the wire before losing. And when he matched up against Tell Anders of Buchanan High of Fresno, Calif. -- one of the top high school recruits in the country -- Morse was in the thick of it until the bitter end. Anders emerged with a 4-1 decision and more than a little frustration.

Ezra frustrated the heck out of that kid, Haga says. He just comes at you from the opening whistle and never backs off. He may not have the skill level of some of the guys he wrestles, but he wears them out.

Morse toils just as industriously in the classroom. He's earned straight-A's in high school and by taking a number of advanced placement classes -- his class load this term includes calculus, chemistry and honors English -- he's achieved a grade point average of 4.12.

Morse has earned an academic scholarship to Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., where he will join his brother, Silas, in the fall.

He's expected to be named one of Crater's valedictorians in the spring.

Morse not only wrestles hard, he wrestles smart.

Morse quite a force for Comets