Sublet, Paasch win state championships for McMinnville
PORTLAND — It has been 25 years since McMinnville has had a state champion in wrestling.
You better restart that clock.
Seniors Jared Sublet and Tiger Paasch ended their McMinnville careers by winning it all, giving coach Shawn Keinonen his first two individual state champions and giving the wrestling program at McMinnville High School a giant shot of adrenaline.
“It’s these guys,” Keinonen said. “It’s really rewarding to see it all come to a really nice ending for them, because they deserve it.”
Sublet won the 6A state championship at 132 pounds, beating David Nelson of Gresham 7-3 in the finals Saturday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Paasch followed that up with a lightning-quick pin at 170 pounds, dropping the tournament’s No. 1-seeded Tyler Chay in 1 minute, 49 seconds.
McMinnville junior J.T. Barnes also came close to a state title Saturday, but he had to settle for second place after losing 11-3 in the finals to Roseburg’s Reed Van Anrooy. Mac’s other state placer was Bryce Branson at 120 pounds. Branson rebounded from a semifinals loss to win the fifth-place match 1-0 vs. Louis Palos of McNary.
After Paasch’s pin, Keinonen couldn’t help but think about where the program has come from to where it is now. He took over in 2008, and that year seven wrestlers qualified for state. That was the most until this year, when the Grizzlies qualified nine.
Keinonen, a Newberg High School graduate, came to Mac with visions of building a program like the one he grew up with in Newberg, and it’s taken time. Most of all, he said, it took a core group of kids who bought into everything he was trying to teach them.
“They’ve burned up summers wrestling,” Keinonen said. “They’ve burned countless hours in that room. Tortuous workouts. It’s awesome. Just flat ass awesome.”
The Grizzlies finished fifth in the team scoring at 6A.
“Hard work and dedication pay off,” said Paasch, who let out a bellow after he pinned Chay. “That’s what our coach has done. Can’t say enough about him.”
Other local schools shared Mac’s spotlight. Sheridan’s Justin Acuff won his second consecutive state championship, defeating Dallin Widmer of Nyssa 6-5 in the 132-pound final in 3A. Acuff went 4-0 over the two-day tournament.
Dayton’s Micah Cisneros surprised even himself in winning a state championship at 138 pounds. Cisneros — the No. 2 seed — matched up with No. 1-seeded Walker Damewood of Glide. Damewood beat Cisneros in the 126-pound finals 14-1 last year, but Cisneros shocked the strong contingent of Glide supporters with a 4-2 upset-win.
“Damewood is the best kid in 3A, hands down,” Dayton coach Rob Henry said. “That’s what everybody says. That’s the upset of the tournament right there.”
The Willamina Bulldogs also came away with two individual state champions a second-place finish in the team scoring behind runaway-winner Glide. Skyler Voigt won his second consecutive state championship, beating Ian Quimby of Glide 12-4 at 120 pounds. Coty Brown then won the 3A state championship at 126 pounds, making the climb from second-place finisher a year ago.
Willamina’s Michael Reyes was pinned in the state championship final at 113 pounds by Hans Rockwell of Riverside.
The Bulldogs finished with 10 placers for the second consecutive season. Trevor Hunt finished third at 160. Edwin Vilallobos (145), Jacob Ward (152) and Tommy Cobb (285) all finished fourth; Jordan Combs was fifth at 106, and Keegan Davis and Mykal Stewart were both sixth place.
For a full breakdown of the state championship read the Feb. 26 print-edition of the News-Register.