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Eagles land district title

CENTRAL POINT — High school wrestling rankings can be a pretty inexact science, and Eagle Point’s program put that into perspective on Saturday in the Class 5A Special District 3 championships.

Rated as the eighth-best team at the 5A level — and third among the schools in its district — Eagle Point proved that it’s a team to be reckoned with at the state tournament in two weeks thanks to a stellar showing at Crater High.

The Eagles crowned five champions after pushing 10 wrestlers into the district finals and qualified 18 wrestlers overall for the state tourney with a convincing win over the field behind a 417-point effort.

Seventh-ranked Crater had four of its seven finalists secure titles to finish second overall with 383.5 points, with No. 2 Churchill crowning five champions in eight attempts to finish third on 237 points.

“It was a great performance today by the kids,” said Eagle Point head coach Kacey McNulty. “They came here to wrestle and they did a good job. Both of those teams (Crater and Churchill) are ranked ahead of us in the state tournament — and Crater has been ranked as high as first this year — so there’s something to be said about that. The kids did well.”

Earning district titles for Eagle Point were Levi Pomeroy (126 pounds), Conor Gaines (132), James McCoy (152), Ethan Pomeroy (170) and Blaine Cloney (195). Finishing second were Chance McMullin (106), Mike Johnson (113), Christian Torrico (120), Bryan O’Neil (145) and Anthony Valdovinos (285).

Of the Eagles’ 18 state qualifiers, only two did not place third or better.

“We had some kids that overcame some big odds to win matches,” said McNulty, “we had kids that were focused that did what they needed to do and, in the finals, we had some kids that were outclassed by some very talented guys.”

“There’s some things to look forward to from not just the champions but some of our second guys,” he added of the upcoming 5A state tourney on Feb. 27-28 in Portland.

Crater head coach Greg Haga was equally as optimistic about his squad, which also qualified 18 wrestlers for the state tourney. Of that group, only four are seniors, including district champions Nate Walters (145) and Wyatt Haas (220) and runner-up Walter Kurz (126).

“Coming in with as many young guys that I have in our lineup,” said Haga, “to be real honest with you I was hoping to qualify 14 guys to the state tournament. I was real impressed with our young guys that came on and wrestled hard. I just thought our kids did a great job of wrestling.”

Crater freshman Zeth Brower (106) and Logan Meek (138) each won district titles, while juniors Tommy Winningham (160) and Cavin Gillispie (182) placed second. Gillispie, who is ranked third at 182, was only cleared to return to the mat earlier this week from a foot injury and Haga used discretion in having him forfeit his championship match against ninth-ranked Churchill senior Wyatt Brink.

“I kept telling myself, ‘Win the war, not the battle,’” Haga said of his game plan. “I let Cavin know earlier in the week that was the plan if he got into the finals, just to give him another two weeks to get in shape and heal up that bone.”

Ashland scored a pair of runner-up efforts from Chance Swenson (195) and Liam Weston (220) and, with a fourth-place finish by Christopher Bowland (160), the fifth-place Grizzlies qualified three for state. Swenson gave Cloney a big challenge in their final, with the Ashland junior trailing only 2-1 until Cloney scored a last-second takedown for a 4-1 decision.

Eight of Churchill’s nine qualifiers advanced to the district finals, while fourth-place Springfield qualified six wrestlers. North Eugene finished sixth and qualified two for state.

The Pomeroys were especially impressive for Eagle Point in the finals.

Senior Levi Pomeroy opened an 11-2 lead on Kurz through one period before ultimately securing a 17-2 technical fall midway through the second. Junior Ethan Pomeroy waged a nip-and-tuck battle with Churchill’s Justin Kearney and ultimately got the best of the match in the final seconds when an errant shot attempt by Kearney led to Pomeroy sliding through for a winning takedown with four seconds remaining in a 6-4 decision.

“I thought Ethan Pomeroy was mature and patient and did a good job of not giving up that first takedown, which made a huge difference in the match,” said McNulty. “He stuck to his game plan and did a great job on his feet against a kid that’s pretty savvy.”

Crater’s Brower and Haas dominated their finals matches to earn first-period pins, and Walters was equally in control as he kept the pressure on EP’s O’Neill for a 16-3 decision.

The most exciting championship match for Crater was turned in by Meek, who got into an uneventful stalemate on the mat for most of his match against Churchill’s Gabe Blough before using a three-point near fall with three seconds remaining to secure a 5-2 decision.

“Our goal from the beginning was to get as many kids to state as we possibly can and that’s what we did,” said Walters. “We went out there and fought and scratched for everything and fought for each other as a family. That’s what we need to continue doing from now on.”

In his finals match, Winningham gave up a takedown by Riley Jaramillo after a scramble with 22 seconds to go in the first period and the rest was essentially a stalemate as Jaramillo held on for a 2-1 decision.

TEAM SCORES — Eagle Point 417, Crater 383.5, Churchill 237, Springfield 138, Ashland 87, North Eugene 64.

CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS

106 — Zeth Brower, Cra, pinned Chance McMullin, EP, 1:05; 113 — Cade Ezell, Chu, pinned Mikey Johnson, EP, 1:59; 120 — Jake Ayers, Chu, pinned Christian Torrico, EP, 5:45; 126 — Levi Pomeroy, EP, tech. fall Walter Kurz, Cra, 17-2 3:03; 132 — Conor Gaines, EP, pinned Gaven Patrick, Spr, 3:29.

138 — Logan Meek, Cra, dec. Gabe Blough, Chu, 5-2; 145 — Nate Walters, Cra, major dec. Bryan O’Neil, EP, 16-3; 152 — James McCoy, EP, dec. Gavin Carroll, Chu, 6-2; 160 — Riley Jaramillo, Chu, dec. Tommy Winningham, Cra, 2-1.

170 — Ethan Pomeroy, EP, dec. Justin Kearney, Chu, 6-4; 182 — Wyatt Brink, Chu, won by forfeit over Cavin Gillispie, Cra; 195 — Blaine Cloney, EP, dec. Chance Swenson, Ash, 4-1; 220 — Wyatt Haas, Cra, pinned Liam Weston, Ash, 1:11; 285 — Blayne Burnett, Chu, pinned Anthony Valdovinos, EP, 1:03.

THIRD-PLACE FINALS

106 — Thomas Zomerdyk, EP, pinned Hunter Grant, Cra, 2:26; 113 — Joseph Wolf, Chu, pinned Dallas Howard, Cra, 1:19; 120 — Nabor Garcia, EP, major dec. Bryce Cwiklinski, Cra, 12-3; 126 — Michael Hammond, EP, dec. Kevin Snyder, Spr, 4-0; 132 — Misael Hernandez, Spr, dec. Jesse Morton, Cra, 8-6.

138 — Loren Denn, EP, pinned Damian Gonzalez, EP, 1:26; 145 — Luke Doggett, Cra, pinned Henry Nittler, NE, 1:38; 152 — Jason Comer, Cra, won by forfeit over Jace Godley, Cra; 160 — Gage Graves, EP, dec. Christopher Bowland, Ash, 1-0.

170 — Billy Brosowske, NE, pinned Noah Sitzer, EP, 1:32; 182 — Joseph Garcia, EP, pinned Jesse Merritt, Cra, 1:31; 195 — Wally Pendleton, Cra, dec. Blake Rogers, Spr, 7-1; 220 — Cameron Sweet, Cra, dec. Brayden Rogers, Spr, 6-3; 285 — Javon Gill, Cra, dec. Gilberto Degollado, Spr, 8-7 2OT.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

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Conor Gaines of Eagle Point gets the upper hand at 132 pounds against Springfield's Gaven Patrick. Gaines won by fall. PHOTO BY ANGIE WALTERS
Crater's Logan Meek, top, defeats Churchill's Gabe Blough for the 138-pound title. Meek scored in the final seconds for a 5-2 victory. PHOTO BY ANGIE WALTERS