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Phoenix on pace to claim seventh straight district title

Junior Paul Stierle leads the charge for the defending Class 3A state champion as the Pirates advance 18 into today's semifinal round

LAKEVIEW - Paul Stierle might well be the best high school wrestler in Southern Oregon that no one has heard of.

His anonymity is disappearing rapidly, however.

The Phoenix High junior disposed of his only two opponents in rapid-fire fashion during the opening day of the Skyline Conference district wrestling tournament Friday and helped the Pirates charge into the lead.

The defending district and Class 3A state champion Pirates ran roughshod over their Skyline Conference counterparts as they advanced an army of 18 grapplers into today's 10 a.m. semifinal round.

The championship finals are scheduled to begin today at 5 p.m.

The Pirates amassed 871/2 points Friday in opening a 22-point lead over Mazama (651/2). Illinois Valley stands in third place with 57 points, followed by Rogue River (49), North Valley (391/2), Henley (301/2), Lakeview (30) and Hidden Valley (24).

Stierle was one of the 18 Pirates who moved on to the semifinals as the 160-pounder needed just 47 seconds to pin Henley's Chris Bourne and 1:15 to flatten North Valley's Fabraun Carlson.

The two victories ran Stierle's season record to 25-3 and a win this morning over Mazama's Justin Nelson in the semifinal round would punch his ticket to next week's Class 3A state tournament in Portland.

Until this season, Stierle has been Phoenix's best-kept secret. Although he's been showing up at coach Harry Mondale's practices since the sixth grade, Stierle missed most of his freshman year with a broken wrist and then had the misfortune of competing in an area that was loaded with state-caliber wrestlers a year ago.

There was Kyle Kaufmann at 152 pounds, Nick Acord and Forest Jacobs at 160 and Brian Murphy and Shawn Farrell at 171. All but Acord placed at the state tournament, and Acord was a district champion.

Stierle wasn't quite good enough to beat any of them out for a slot to the district tourney in those weight divisions, and so he did what any gritty, glutton-for-punishment 160-pounder would do in that situation - he bumped all the way up to 189.

And a funny thing happened on the way to the woodshed. Stierle won three of his five matches and came within one victory of placing in the top six.

"Everyone I went against outweighed me by 25 to 30 pounds," Stierle recalled with a wince as he sat in the Lakeview High gymnasium bleachers Friday afternoon. "Some of them knocked me around pretty good. It was hard just getting to my feet by the third round.

"I was a little disappointed I couldn't do better," Stierle added, "but in reality I guess I did pretty good. I won some matches and scored some points for my team."

The experience also helped Stierle become a better defensive wrestler, an asset he's used to become one of the top 160-pounders in the state this season.

Stierle, who moved to Phoenix from Billings, Mont., when he was in the fourth grade, still hasn't been able to beat Acord in challenge matches. But little separates the two these days and they were expected to duel for the 160-pound title tonight.

"Most people would pick Acord to win - he's the defending (district) champion - but I wouldn't put a lot of money on that," Phoenix assistant coach Joe Hagler said. "Nick's a senior and he's got the heart of a lion, but Paul is every bit as good, technique-wise, and he's a hungry wrestler in his own right.

"It's going to be very interesting."

Like Stierle, Acord posted two falls of his own Friday as he stuck Mazama's Ryan Reis in 3:03 and Jason Hornbeck in 45 seconds.

Murphy and 189-pound Greg Brown also registered a pair of pins for the Pirates, who appear destined for their seventh straight Skyline title and 20th in the past 22 years.

Other Pirates advancing to the semifinal round were Anthony Broskey and Davy May at 103, Jesse Mitchell at 112, Kevin Cowley at 119, Ben Workman at 125, Chris Vote at 130, Phil Gibson at 135, Mike Manring at 135, George Pearce at 140, Ryan Staten and Rick Farrell at 145, Greg O'Neal and C.J. King at 152 and Justin Gray at 215.

Jon Rowden (140) and Tyler Jackson (171) stayed alive in the consolation bracket. The only Phoenix wrestler to get eliminated from the tournament Friday was freshman Brent Carlson (130), a first-year wrestler who still contributed by winning a match.

"We had a great day," said Hagler, who is handling the team with fellow Phoenix assistant coach John Farmer this weekend while Mondale recovers from a blood clot in his left leg. "A lot of our guys barely worked up a sweat."

Skyline Conference District MeetTEAM SCORES - Phoenix 871/2, Mazama 65, Illinois Valley 57, Rogue River 49, North Valley 391/2, Henley 301/2, Lakeview 30, Hidden Valley 24.

Championship Bracket

First Round

130 - Sean Wilson, NV, pinned Chris Smith, HV, 3:50; J. Marhenke, IV, dec. Nick Coulter, RR, 13-1; Tyler Conner, Maz, pinned David Burlington, 3:34; Aaron McCoy, RR, dec. Brent Carlson, Pho, 8-2.

135 - Andrew Grajalez, RR, pinned Wes Daniels, Maz, 5:49.

152 - Mike Pagnotta, IV, pinned Cody Nevotti, HV, 1:05; Mike Kuenstler, RR, dec. Paul Mitchell, Lak, 12-4.

160 - Nick Acord, Pho, pinned Ryan Reis, Maz, 3:03; Jay Evans, HV, pinned J. Mahrenke, IV, 2:33; Justin Nelson, Maz, pinned S. Ellis, IV, 1:22; Paul Stierle, Pho, pinned Chris Bourne, Hen, :47.

171 - Brian Murphy, Pho, pinned Kevin Ford, RR, :36; Steven Keen, HV, pinned Jared Osberg, Lak, :45.

189 - Brenden McLean, NV, pinned Shane Bourne, Hen, :32; Matt Frederick, RR, pinned A. Stetz, IV, :45; Seth Morehouse, Maz, pinned Jake bee, Lak, :37; Greg Brown, Pho, pinned Mike Distefano, Hen, 1:40.

215 - Jon Pope, IV, pinned Justin Toucher, RR, :29; Kris Wright, RR, won by forfeit.

Quarterfinals

103 - Jon Zimmerman, HV, pinned Derek Patterson, Hen, 1:18; Davy May, Pho, dec. Jimmy Linenburger, Maz, 7-2; Matt Berubee, IV, pinned Stuart Fety, RR, 4:51; Anthony Broskey, Pho, pinned Clinton Mory, Maz, :30.

112 - Justin Cantrell, Hen, dec. Ryan Musselman, Hen, 1:30; Jason Boatright, Maz, pinned Brandon DeWitt, Lak, 3:05.

119 - John Herzog, RR, won by tech. fall over Mike Gouette, Hen, 16-1; Dustin Power, Maz, won by tech. fall over Chris Pedrick, HV, 15-0.

125 - Ben Workman, Pho, pinned Eric Green, NV, 1:02; Lyman Mason, Lak, dec. Jaysen White, HV, 12-8; Jeremiah Lewman, NV, dec. David White, RR, 17-12.

130 - Chris Vote, Pho, pinned Wilson, NV, 2:46; Chance Clause, Lak, dec. Marhenke, IV, 14-9; Tonner, Maz, dec. Robert White, HV, 7-1; Greg Morrison, Lak, pinned McCoy, RR, :56.

135 - Brad Jones, IV, won by forfeit over Jacob Houry, Hen; Mike Manring, Pho, pinned Robbie Samsel, Maz, :56; Tyler Hendrick, Hen, dec. W. Lynch, IV, 12-7; Phil Gibson, Pho, pinned Grajalez, RR, 2:56.

140 - Britt, IV, pinned Jon Rowden, Pho, 4:29.

145 - Ryan Staten, Pho, pinned Tyler Fernlund, Lak, :33; N. Krauss, IV, won by forfeit over David Prewitt, Hen; Rick Farrell, Pho, won by tech. fall over Eric Lentz, Maz, 16-0.

152 - Pagnotta, IV, pinned Murphy Johnson, Hen, :20; Greg O'Neal, Pho, pinned Sean Vann, 2:50; Gary Oliver, Hen, dec. O. Crocker, IV, 19-7; C.J. King, Pho, dec. Kuenstler, RR, 7-2.

160 - Acord, Pho, pinned Jason Hornbeck, Hen, :45; Pedro Torres-Perez, Lak, pinned Evans, HV, 3:10; Nelson, Maz, pinned Ryan Perez, RR, :37; Stierle, Pho, pinned Fabraun Carlson, NV, 1:15.

171 - Murphy, Pho, pinned Waylon Munson, NV, 1:24; T. Janson, IV, pinned Mark Dutton, HV, 2:53; Matt Teeples, Maz, pinned Tyler Jackson, Pho, :40.

189 - Brenden McLean, NV, pinned Stephen McFarland, Lak, 1:35; Frederick, RR, pinned Isaac Gansberg, Maz, :59; Trey McLean, NV, dec. Morehouse, Maz, 6-5; Brown, Pho, pinned Scott Krohn, RR, :24.

215 - Pope, IV, pinned Jacob Hastings, NV, :29; J.J. Nichols, Maz, pinned Hays, Hen, 5:55; Brandon Rankin, NV, pinned Dallas Hubble, Maz, :33; Justin Gray, Pho, pinned Kris Wright, RR, :41.

275 - Skyler Massey, Maz, pinned Pat Noonan, Hen, 1:32; Travis Wheeler, NV, won by forfeit over Greg Sundeen, Lak; Chris Strand, IV, pinned Brandon Ducharme, RR, :49.

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail