By Ben • Ben Schorzman • 

That championship feeling

Senior Jared Sublet defeated David Nelson 7-3 to win a state championship at 132 pounds, and senior Tiger Paasch followed that up with an electrifying pin in the 170-pound finals vs. No. 1-seeded Tyler Chay of West Linn. Sublet and Paasch are the first McMinnville wrestling state champions since Chris Jones won a state title at 148 pounds in 1987, and before Saturday, there had been just four state champions in the history of McMinnville wrestling.

“Both of those kids have been a lot of fun to coach and work with, and I’m proud of them,” Keinonen said. “I just hope kids in McMinnville see what is attainable in wrestling. Tiger didn’t start wrestling until sixth, seventh grade. Jared didn’t start until eighth grade. There’s a lot of potential. I would like to see a few more kids get out and try this whole thing.”

Junior J.T. Barnes was pinned in 3 minutes, 32 seconds in his finals match at 152 pounds vs. No. 1-seeded Reed Van Anrooy of Roseburg. Senior Bryce Branson was McMinnville’s other state placer, winning 1-0 in the fifth-place match vs. Louis Palos of McNary.

Sublet grinded out four wins at the state tournament, and his last two were the most important. He beat Parker Folliard of Oregon City 5-3 in the semifinals in overtime, getting a takedown late to move on. Then in the finals, despite allowing one reversal and an escape, Sublet kept the pressure on Nelson.

“Jared will grind you and work you for six minutes,” Keinonen said. “He’s fun to watch. It was just a real pleasure. I thought he dominated his match tonight.”

Barnes ran up against a tough opponent in Van Anrooy. A defending state champion, Van Anrooy surprised Barnes with his speed, he said. After the match, Keinonen walked off the floor with Barnes and told him he would be back next season.

“That kid is one of the top kids in our state and one of the top kids in his weight class in the whole nation,” Keinonen said. “He will be off somewhere with a scholarship, and then J.T. will be the No. 1 seed and the big gun. He set himself up well for next year by placing high here, assuming he can win a regional title. That’s a long ways away from now. It’s nice to bring back a leader like that. J.T. is a smart kid.”

Then came Paasch’s final at 170 pounds. Chay, who Paasch lost to early in January at the Oregon Classic 10-3, hadn’t allowed a point the entire tournament, but Paasch attacked early and caught him off guard. Late in the first period Paasch put together two moves and threw Chay and glued him to the mat. When the referee ended it with 11 seconds left, Paasch popped to his feet and roared. He threw his head gear toward Keinonen and pointed at his two coaches with two hands.

“He chain wrestled,” Keinonen said. “He went from a move to a move to a move. When he wrestles like that, he has enough athleticism and explosiveness that he’s unstoppable.”

“I can’t describe the feeling,” Paasch said after. “Just awesome.”

The Grizzlies finished in fifth place with 87 team points, just out of the trophies. David Douglas won the team championship at 6A, breaking Roseburg’s three-year hold on the team title.

Keinonen said he could have been happier with how Paasch, Sublet, Barnes, Branson and the rest of his team did over the two days.

“It’s these guys, it’s really rewarding to see it come to a really nice ending for them because they deserve it,” Keinonen said.

“It’s taken awhile for us to get one here, but I think this means more are coming. It’s been a fun year. We have accomplished a lot as a team and individually. I’m proud of everybody.”

Records for each Mac wrestler:

-- Aspen Nelson, 106: 1-2.

-- Solomon Souza, 120: 0-2.

-- Bryce Branson, 120: 3-2.

-- Manny Humlie, 126: 0-2.

-- Jared Sublet, 132: 4-0.

--Bobby Crowston, 138: 1-2.

-- J.T. Barnes, 152: 3-1.

-- Tiger Paasch, 170: 4-0.

-- Chris Cerda, 195: 0-2.

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