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Crater in position to take Class 4A title

Maloney's victory in the semifinals gives the Comets the boost they need

PORTLAND ' The Crater High wrestling team needed a kick-start during the championship semifinal round of the Class 4A state tournament Friday at Memorial Coliseum.

Chase Maloney was happy to provide one.

The 135-pound sophomore churned to a hard-fought 8-7, victory over second-ranked Lucas Hambleton of Canby that regained the momentum for the Comets, who are in solid position to claim the state championship.

Crater got off to a rough start in the semifinal round when 119-pound Bryson Gutches and 130-pound Nate Gipson both lost. But the Comets regrouped to win their next three matches and finished the day with 154 points.

Roseburg holds down second place with 101 points, while Grants Pass, the surprise of the tournament, is third with 96.5 and Newberg fourth with 93.5.

Eagle Point, which entered Friday's semifinal round in fifth place, dropped to eighth with 64 points as its two semifinalists ' including defending 171-pound champion Tyson Nelson ' were defeated.

Joining Maloney in the finals for the Comets were Jeremy McLoughlin (140) and Ron Lee (152).

Hambleton, a national junior judo champion with cat-like quickness, handed Maloney his only defeat in Oregon last December and held a 4-1 lead after one period Friday.

But Maloney used an escape and takedown to tie the physical match at 4-4 after two periods and took Hambleton down twice more in the third to pull out the win.

I've spent a lot of practice time the last two months getting ready for that guy, Maloney said. He's really good with leg trips, and he's got really quick hips.

But I kept the pressure on, and I just waited for my opportunities to shoot.

The victory pushed Maloney's record to 34-3.

Chase kept the heat on really well, and he didn't make the mistakes he made against that guy (Hambleton) the last time, Crater coach Greg Haga said. No one on this team is in better shape than Chase, and he won't back down from anyone.

Haga added that Maloney's win, coming on the heels of the unexpected losses by Gutches and Gipson, really picked us up.

McLaughlin followed with a 5-4 victory over Canby's Stephen Schantin and, not long after that, Lee overcame a 2-0 deficit after two periods to pin Glencoe's Max Murison.

McLaughlin remained unbeaten in Oregon and padded his record to 32-2.

Those losses (by Gutches and Gipson) ticked me off and made me wrestle harder, McLoughlin said. Those guys are my friends and teammates and it hurts me when they lose.

I owed it to them and the whole program to give it everything I had.

Lee generated no offense against Murison for two periods, but turned him on his back twice in the final stanza and finally crunched him with 1:01 remaining.

Gutches, who won the 103-pound state title last year as a freshman, held a 2-0 lead over Carter after one period, but Carter put him on his back three times and rattled off 12 unanswered points.

People expect him (Gutches) to go out and win automatically, but it doesn't always happen that way, Haga said. The other kid (Carter) is tough, and he won the match fair and square.

They're both sophomores and they'll probably see each other down the road. Bryson will come back from this.

Gipson, meanwhile, lost 11-7 to Southride's Evan Sekulic, while heavyweight Taylor Wilkerson got pinned by McKay's Allan Mikolas in Crater's other semifinal bout.

Grants Pass continued its magical state tournament run Friday as three of its four semifinalists ' Tyler Baker (103), Zach Steddum (125) and Brian Alves (189) ' triumphed.

The Cavemen brought just a half-dozen participants to the tournament but all six have guaranteed themselves a state placing.

Eagle Point wasn't so fortunate. Nelson appeared on his way to victory over Mountain View's Cody Larwin, but Larwin wiggled free for an escape with 19 seconds remaining in regulation that tied the match at 3-3, and then pinned Nelson in overtime.

Also, the Eagles' Jake McCoy lost at 112 pounds, 11-9 to Bee Yang of Centennial.

North Medford's Rob Folsom (160) kept alive his goal of a championship with a 9-3 victory over Oregon City's Cameron Saffer.

The Black Tornado's other semifinalist, 152-pound Jimmy Ulrey, got pinned by Hermiston standout Kyle Larsen.