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EP falls shy of title

The juggernaut that is the Roseburg wrestling program these days proved too much for the 13 other schools involved in Saturday's Rogue Valley Championships at North Medford High.

The two-time defending Class 6A state champion crowned a tournament-high four champions and had two runners-up to help the Indians repeat as RVC champions with 237.5 points.

Not lost in the shuffle, however, was an inspired effort by Eagle Point that led to a well-earned second place at 189.5.

"Roseburg's a powerhouse," said EP coach Kacey McNulty. "They have a great program, so placing second is not bad. We wrestled well today and we beat a lot of quality programs to do that. I was real pleased with our guys."

Out of 14 weight classes, the Eagles wound up with 11 placers — led by individual champions Daniel Soto at 119 pounds and Steven Josephson at 171. Soto scored an 8-4 decision over Steven Evans of Roseburg in his final, while Josephson dominated action before finally scoring a fall in 4:21 over Landy Wells of Illinois Valley.

"Josephson had a tough weight class and Soto did, too," said McNulty. "It was good to see that both of those guys had the attack mentality today and got after people. I think they fatigued both of their opponents."

Eagle Point also received a second-place effort from Trent Kaiser (130) and third-place finishes by Aaron Lorenz (103) and Garrett Davis (152).

"Toward the end of the season, we're really coming on strong," said Josephson, who was up 12-3 before rolling up Wells in the finals. "We're kind of a young team but a lot of kids are getting more experienced with their matches and are staying after practice and working to get better."

Kaiser's final match proved especially daunting against Henley's Aaron David, who went on to earn outstanding wrestler for the lower weights. David scored a 14-0 major decision in the final to cap a tournament run that saw him not allow a single point in three victories.

Dan Faas (112), Jay Tovey (135), Sam Mecham (140) and Seth Thomas (145) each won individual titles for Roseburg, while Evans was joined by Dylan Fors (152) in placing second.

Still, Roseburg coach Steve Lander said his team wasn't exactly at its finest on Saturday. The Indians had previously breezed to wins in the Crater Classic and Reser's Tournament of Champions but didn't create quite the same stir Saturday despite the runaway win.

"I don't think we had our normal energy today," said Lander. "We've got some guys out with injuries and stuff and the kids that were here, I guess, were good enough."

Good enough, however, is not what Lander is looking for at this time of the season.

"I get a little tense this time of year," he added. "I want things to be perfect, and with (Southwest Conference) districts next week, expectations are pretty high."

Like Eagle Point, the wrestlers from Illinois Valley made quite an impression by crowning three champions among six finalists. Jesse Orndorf cruised to the title at 103 pounds, while Jon Anderson (125) and Lance Tausaga (215) also proved victorious.

Taking second for the Cougars besides Wells were Quayde Fisher, who battled Tovey to the wire in an 8-7 match at 135, and Sam Winter, who dropped a 4-3 decision to Mecham at 140.

Illinois Valley earned 157.5 points to take third overall, with North Medford (139.5) and Crater (136.5) rounding out the top five.

For the Comets, Saturday's effort was hampered by illness and injury that left Crater at less than full strength. Even so, the Comets proved that they remain focused on the task at hand in spite of Tuesday's action by the Oregon School Activities Association to suspend head coach Greg Haga through the 2009-10 school year.

Crater senior Brock Gutches was named outstanding wrestler for the upper weights after pinning all three opponents en route to the title at 160, while heavyweight Brandon Hesse finished second to North Valley's Paul Gutzman.

The Comets also received a third place from Skyler Prislac (112).

"We had some individuals do real well, but we had a bad day overall," said Gutches. "We had a lot of sick guys."

Gutches said that the absence of Haga this week has hurt the team on a personal level since the coach is so beloved by his wrestlers, but the Comets are far from interested in taking a step back from their ultimate goals.

"If anything, I'd have to say the intensity has gone up," said Gutches. "It kinda got people motivated a little more and our guys are fired up right now."

"I think the big picture stays focused just fine, or at least it does for me," added the senior. "With or without coach Haga there, I know what I have to do."

Interim head coach Denny Walters has been Haga's right-hand man for years, so Gutches said there haven't been any transitional issues.

"The difference is coach Walters is little and coach Haga is big," Gutches said with a laugh. "Otherwise, I think they are just alike. Their coaching style is the same and they just feed off each other. It's awesome fun just to be around both of them. I'm just really bummed that I can't be with coach Haga for this final year."

Gutches' final pin came at the expense of Phoenix's Josh Warden, but the Pirates were able to notch one individual title when Luke Amuchastegui scored a 2-0 decision over Fors at 152.

Robby Blubaugh (130) and Ryan Tourville (135) also took third for the Pirates.

For tournament host North Medford, Kody Bonham lost 7-1 in a tough finals matchup against South Umpqua's Bo Younker at 189, while Ryan Mahoney finished runner-up to Thomas at 145. Kade Peden placed third at 160.

Rogue Valley Championships

TEAM SCORES — Roseburg 237.5, Eagle Point 189.5, Illinois Valley 157.5, North Medford 139.5, Crater 136.5, Henley 125.5, South Umpqua 125, Phoenix 112, Rogue River 73, Roseburg2 59, North Valley 57, Marshfield 55, Churchill 51, Ashland 30.5, Eagle Point2 24, Crater2 16, Illinois Valley2 13, Phoenix2 10, Churchill2 9, North Medford2 7.5, North Valley2 6, Henley2 4, Cascade Christian 3.

CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL

103 — Jesse Orndorf, IV, dec. Joe Potts, Chu, 13-0; 112 — Dan Faas, Ros, dec. Brian Bowers, SU, 8-2; 119 — Daniel Soto, EP, dec. Steven Evans, Ros, 8-4; 125 — Jon Anderson, IV, tech. fall Steven Torrez, RR, 19-4; 130 — Aaron David, Hen, maj. dec. Trent Kaiser, EP, 14-0.

135 — Jay Tovey, Ros, dec. Quayde Fisher, IV, 8-7; 140 — Sam Mecham, Ros, dec. Sam Winter, IV, 4-3; 145 — Seth Thomas, Ros, maj. dec. Ryan Mahoney, NM, 16-2; 152 — Luke Amuchastegui, Pho, dec. Dylan Fors, Ros, 2-0.

160 — Brock Gutches, Cra, p. Josh Warden, Pho, 5:24; 171 — Steven Josephson, EP, p. Landy Wells, IV, 4:21; 189 — Bo Younker, SU, dec. Kody Bonham, NM, 7-1; 215 — Lance Tausaga, IV, dec. Clayton Lent, SU, 2-0; 285 — Paul Gutzman, NV, dec. Brandon Hesse, Cra, 7-2.

THIRD-FOURTH FINAL

103 — Aaron Lorenz, EP, won by forfeit over Mario Barajas, EP2; 112 — Skyler Prislac, Cra, dec. Tyler Nixon, Mar, 7-1; 119 — Lamot Hook, Hen, dec. Patrick Wiggins, RR, 3-0; 125 — Brian Heater, Hen, dec. Dustin Mougey, Ros, 3-2; 130 — Robby Blubaugh, Pho, maj. dec. Nick Ferris, Cra, 10-2.

135 — Ryan Tourville, Pho, p. Matt Coultas, IV2, 2:14; 140 — Bruce Balcita, SU, p. Chris Wilson, EP, 2:40; 145 — Jake Scarminach, Ash, dec. Josh Winter, EP, 6-3; 152 — Garrett Davis, EP, p. Alex Ware, Mar, 1:13.

160 — Kade Peden, NM, p. Gage Baumer, EP, 2:42; 171 — Brett Mathes, Hen, dec. Mark Dickison, NM, 6-3; 189 — Travis George, NV, p. Brad Mabie, Ros, 1:32; 215 — Brandon Galvez, Ros, dec. Logan Brooks, Cra, 6-4; 285 — RJ Harter, Hen, inj. default over Robert Ross, NM.

FIFTH-SIXTH FINAL

103 — Brandon Bowers, SU, maj. dec. Cody Stoecker, Ros, 12-4; 112 — Aarom Longtain, RR, p. Edgar Cox, NM, 1:40; 119 — Jeremy Artoff, Cra, p. Riley Dodd, Pho2, 1:39; 125 — Ben Zomerdyk, EP, p. Ryan Campbell, Mar, 2:50; 130 — Chase Kearney, Chu, p. Daniel Hill, Cra2, 3:20.

135 — Ammon Ebert, NM, p. John Dees, RR, 4:30; 140 — Eliazar Deluca, Pho, p. Will Bales, Chu, 5:28; 145 — Jesse Moore, Mar, maj. dec. Ben Lewis, Ros2, 14-2; 152 — Zach Baldridge, Cra, dec. Branden Todd, NM, 4-3.

160 — Matt Keller, Ros, dec. Zane Fernlund, Hen, 3-2; 171 — Josh Weaver, Ros, dec. Brandon Romano, Ros2, 6-0; 189 — Joe Hennricks, Ros2, p. Tayler Marasco, EP, 1:43; 215 — Nik Beiter, EP, dec. Rickey Lockey, Cra2, 13-7; 285 — Jordan Guthrie, Ros, p. Chance Crane, SU, :58.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com

Eagle Point’s Trent Kaiser, bottom, and Phoenix’s Robby Blubaugh wrestle during the Rogue Valley Championships at North Medford High on Saturday. Kaiser defeated Blubaugh, 3-2, in the 130-pound semifinal. - Jamie Lusch