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Kaufman's unprecedented run makes him the lone Phoenix semifinalist

PORTLAND ' all rights, Kris Kaufman shouldn't have even been in the position he was Friday night at the Class 3A state wrestling tournament.

Diminutive, even by comparison in the 103-pound division, the Phoenix sophomore spent last season toiling in the wrestling room while teammates Davy May and Anthony Broskey made it out for the varsity action.

Kaufman appeared destined for the green light this season, but May was better served cutting weight and has risen to the No. — ranking in the lightest of all 14 weight classes.

But, as has been his trademark, the 5-foot-4 Kaufman took it all in stride this season, biding his time, hoping one day that all the hard work would pay off.

He didn't get as many matches this year as he what he should have gotten, but he's had a great attitude about it, said Phoenix assistant coach Joe Hagler.

That attitude outweighed a lack of match experience Friday as Kaufman's time in the spotlight finally arrived with an unlikely run to the semifinals.

Kaufman scored a 5-4, come-from-behind victory over Mazama's Jimmy Linenberger in the quarterfinals, but then ran into a semifinals buzzsaw in second-ranked Brian Jacob of Tillamook.

Jacob, who had won all three of his previous matches by fall, dominated from the get-go in scoring a 15-2 major decision over the lone Phoenix semifinalist.

I wrestled my hardest, said Kaufman, who weighs 100 pounds on a good day, but that's just how it ended up. He caught me early and was a lot stronger than I was.

Kaufman fended off a fall on three occasions, working as hard as he could to earn a last-second, third-period takedown even though the match score was well in hand for Jacob.

He knows that his job is to do the best that he can, whether that is fifth place, third place or first place, Hagler said of Kaufman. Like we expect from all our guys, his job is to come off the mat without a lot of energy left. If he does that, then he can walk away and be happy because he knows that's all we expect of him.

While Kaufman took some solace in that thought following his semifinal loss, he couldn't help lament the Pirates' 13th-place standing following Friday's action.

Our team wanted to do more, he said, but we came here and have tried our best. I'm sure some kids could've done better, but we've got five guaranteed placers.

Other Pirates joining May in today's consolation round are May (103), Kevin Cowley (130), Ricky Farrell (152) and Paul Stierle (189). All wrestlers who advance to today's action are guaranteed no worse than eighth place.

In other Skyline Conference results, Illinois Valley's Mike Pagnotta (152) punched a ticket into today's championship finals with a 5-4 victory over third-ranked Sean Stafford of Estacada.

He stayed in solid position for the whole match, IV coach Jay Miller said of the junior. As long as his defense is good, then he wrestles good. He has a good enough offense to get him through.

The top-ranked IV junior will have his defensive abilities put to the test tonight when he faces off with second-ranked Abe Jacobs of Burns, a 15-0 technical fall winner in the other semifinal.

Everybody knows what's coming, it's just how do you stop it, Miller said of Jacobs. If we can defend that cradle of his, we'll be in good shape. If we can't, we're going to have a long night.

Joining Pagnotta in the championship finals will be North Valley's Zack Giesen (125), a 10-3 winner over Scappoose's Andy Hulings, and Trey McLean (215), who beat Estacada's Kevin Moyer, 13-3, in one semifinal as teammate Stephen Keen was pinned by North Bend's Jared Allison in the other semifinal.

Mazama's Skyler Massey also set a date for the championship finals at heavyweight with a pin of Vale's Stefen Maupin.

Defending champion Burns leads the team competition with 140 points, followed by Banks (121.5), Tillamook (91.5), Estacada (87) and Coquille (84.5).

North Valley is eighth (66.5), with Illinois Valley 12th (58), Phoenix 13th (55.5) and Mazama 14th (55).

A trophy is out of the question, said Hagler, who along with John Farmer is handling the coaching duties in the absence of 35th-year head coach Harry Mondale, but we would like to finish among the top seven if we could get that high. Right now, we're not even looking at standings, we're just taking it one match at a time and whatever happens in the standings, happens.

The Pirates have been admittedly split in their focus in Portland after Mondale was hospitalized with heart problems Tuesday night.

The kids were looking forward to Harry being here since he wasn't here last year, said Hagler. They like being around him. What he has to say to them is a big deal.

As far as our duties, they're about the same, he added, but not having him here for his leadership and pulling the kids together before matches makes a big difference.

Mondale's son Chuck, in Portland to officiate the state tourney, said a stint was put in three of his dad's arteries Friday afternoon and that, as far as he knew, the legendary coach was doing fine.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail