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Comets lack spark, but still win

Crater goes just 3-6 in final round, but walks off with team crown at Rogue Valley Championships

A frown was etched on the face of Crater High wrestling coach Greg Haga as he walked out of the North Medford High gym Saturday evening.

Haga's defending state champion and No. 1-ranked Comets comfortably claimed the crown at the Rogue Valley Championships, but they won only three of nine matches in the finals.

Crater finished the tournament with 347.5 points, followed by Eagle Point (235), Phoenix (223), North Medford (209), Grants Pass (182.5), South Medford (140), North Valley (109.5), Rogue River (67), Illinois Valley (43) and Hidden Valley (29).

The bottom line is, we need to get back in the wrestling room, fix our mistakes and build our toughness, Haga said. We did not wrestle real well in the finals.

— Tyler Weathers (119), Cody Clark (171) and Ron Lee (189) secured titles for the Comets, but Jake Vizzini lost to South Medford's Juan Aguilar 19-8 in the 103-pound final; John Bernhardt lost to Grants Pass' Chris Hotch 7-3 at 130; Chase Maloney was pinned by North Medford's Chris Platt in the 152-pound finale; Charlie Alexander was pinned by Grants Pass' Andrew Ditty in the 215-pound final; and Taylor Wilkerson suffered an 11-0 loss to North Valley standout Trey McLean at 275.

The Comets endured yet another setback when Bryson Gutches, their ace 135-pounder, couldn't compete in the finals because of an injury. Gutches was seeing his first action since breaking his jaw three weeks ago at the Clovis Shootout in Fresno, Calif.

In his 4-2 semifinal victory over Eagle Point's Matt Leonardo, Gutches broke wires that had been used to clamp his jaw shut.

He wanted to keep wrestling but we weren't going to risk it, Haga said. We've got bigger tournaments ahead.

Platt brought the North Medford fans to their feet when he used a reverse half-nelson to pin Maloney, the state runner-up at 135 last season.

I just tried to wrestle him tough the whole time because he's tough on his feet, Platt said. And I caught him.

I'd have to say this is my biggest win this year.

Of all the Comets who grappled Saturday, Haga was perhaps most pleased with Weathers, who pinned Phoenix's Anthony Broskey in the finals and had three falls and one technical fall on the day.

Weathers advanced to the Class 4A state tournament last season as a freshman but went two-and-out.

I'm being a lot more aggressive this season, said Weathers, who ran his record to 12-4.

Lee pinned Eagle Point's Kevin Miers in the 171-pound final and Clark did likewise to Rogue River's Mike Kuenstler in the 189-pound final.

Joining Platt in the winner's circle for North Medford were Josh Smith, who posted a 12-8 win over Illinois Valley's Zack Pagnotta at 145, and Rob Folsom, who cruised to a 14-6 victory over Phoenix's Ricky Farrell at 160.

Farrell briefly had Folsom on his back in the first period, but Folsom, the Class 4A state runner-up last season at 160, wiggled free and dominated the rest of the match.

I'm still not dialed-in like I need to be, said Folsom, who got a late start in wrestling after playing in the state championship football game on Dec. 6. But I've been putting in extra time after practice and I'm feeling stronger every match.

Phoenix crowned two champions ' Davy May at 112 and freshman Nick Amuchastegui at 125. Amuchastegui was especially impressive as he beat South Medford's Chris Helman 12-4 in the finals.

Prior to Saturday, Helman had lost only one match this season.

He's a hard worker, a good learner and a good athlete, said Phoenix coach Harry Mondale of Amuchastegui. You never know how a freshman is going to act at a big tournament like this, but Nick had ice water in his veins.

Eagle Point's lone champion was Stephen Price, who wrestled brilliantly during a 6-0 victory over North Valley's Zack Gieson in the 140-pound final.

Gieson won a Class 3A state title last year and he beat Price 8-6 at the South Coast Classic last month.

He likes to come at you with a double-leg (takedown) but I kept a solid stance and didn't let him get to me, Price said.

South Medford's Aguilar continued his storybook season with three more wins Saturday, pushing his season record to 18-0.

Eagle Point?s Stephen Price, left, puts a hold on North Valley?s Zack Gieson in the 140-pound title match at the Rogue Valley Championships. Mail Tribune / Andrew Mariman - Mail Tribune Andrew Mariman