Four times the charm
PORTLAND – Every championship is worthy of its own story, and the four state titles won by local wrestlers at the OSAA State Wrestling Championships were deserving of their own moniker.
There was the Second Wind. The Brothers in Arms. The Last-Second Escape. And the Six Minutes of Hell.
The last belongs to J.T. Barnes, McMinnville’s 152-pound senior, who became the seventh individual champion in school history Saturday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Barnes, the Class 6A 152-pound runner-up in 2013, won his first state title by defeating Roseburg’s David Harker, 11-4.
“It feels amazing,” Barnes said. “It’s everything I dreamed it would be. Absolutely incredible.”
Barnes was aggressive and controlling from the start. After a scoreless first period, he took down marker at the 2:40 mark in the second period and held on for a three-point near fall. All four of Harker’s points came on escapes.
“I knew going out that I was stronger than my opponent,” Barnes said. “I got on top, worked my cradle. No one can stop my cradle in this state.”
What Barnes’ championship match lacked in dramatic flair, Jared Henry’s match more than made up for it. The Dayton freshman matched up with Devin Freeman of Glide in the Class 3A 138-pound final. The match was a battle of coaches’ sons, with Glide’s Jeff Freeman against Dayton’s Rob Henry.
It was Devin Freeman, the No. 1 seed in the weight class, who controlled the action early. Freeman took down Henry for a two-point near-fall at the end of the second period for a 6-2 advantage.
“After the second period, I felt fantastic,” said Henry, who participated in the tournament despite injuring a muscle in his hip. “I felt the match was in my favor even though I was down in points.”
Henry stayed aggressive and stormed back, recording a takedown and three-point near-fall to lead 9-7 with 25 seconds remaining in the match. Freeman, however, reversed Henry to tie the match at nine points apiece.
After the reversal, Henry managed to break from Freeman’s hold and the referees awarded an escape point with one second left in the match to give Henry the state title.
“Honestly, he didn’t wrestle great,” Rob Henry said. “He was making some mistakes. He didn’t panic. He stayed in his match and he poured on the pressure at the end.”
The most emotional of the local finals matches came in the Class 3A 132-pound final, where Willamina’s Coty Brown and Sheridan’s Justin Acuff squared off for the fourth time in their high school careers.
“It was pretty emotional but I just needed to keep it away,” Brown said. “He’s been my best friend since eighth grade.”
Both wrestlers attacked each other as often as possible, but Brown scored two takedowns of Acuff in the third period to and won the match by 8-5 decision. Brown leaves Willamina a two-time state champion; Acuff, a junior, was going for his third state title.
“Is bittersweet the word?” Willamina coach Ariah Fasana said. “It’s kind of a bummer.”
“I think they both handled that match really well,” Sheridan coach Ray Carpenter said. “They left it out there on the mat. We knew going in that whoever was going to get the most takedowns was going to win.”
Willamina’s second title of the tournament came courtesy of sophomore Michael Reyes. In the Class 3A 120-pound final, Reyes struggled to match the intensity of Riverside’s Elijah Conlon early on but scored a critical reversal late in the second period to take a 6-4 lead. Reyes gained strength in the third period and eventually pinned Conlon in 5 minutes, 45 seconds.
“I really worked hard throughout the spring and summer,” Reyes said. “It feels good. All the work paid off.”
Hard work paid off for Dayton in the team standings, as the Pirates scored 117.5 points, 65 behind 3A state champion Glide, for fourth place and a piece of hardware. Seven of Dayton’s 12 wrestlers placed in their respective weight classes.
“I’m happy to get fourth,” Henry said. “The goal at the start of the year was to get a trophy. If we would’ve wrestled up to our abilities, we could’ve been second or third.”
Willamina finished in seventh place with 107 points. Sheridan was 19th with 22 points and Amity tied for 21st with eight points.
McMinnville scored 50 points as a team and finished 12th in the Class 6A standings, with Roseburg (272.5 points) winning the state championship.
“We had a golden opportunity to trophy as a team and I am extremely disappointed in our efforts,” Grizzlies coach Shawn Keinonen wrote in an email. “I won't point any fingers individually but mentally we were not ready to compete this weekend.”
Mac freshman Brian Barnes was the only other Grizzly to place, finishing third in the Class 6A 195-pound bracket. Barnes saved his guttiest performance for last, defeating Will Reddekopp of Roseburg, 2-1, in the fourth overtime by breaking Reddekopp’s hold for an escape.
Also competing for the Grizzlies were Alvaro Flores (106 pounds), Aspen Nelson (106 pounds), Steven Weant (120 pounds), Manny Humlie (132 pounds), Bobby Crowston (138 pounds) and Alex Kiess (152 pounds).
Dayton’s Micah Cisneros was one half of a Class 3A 145-pound championship that was a rematch of the 2013 138-pound state final, when Cisneros defeated Glide's Walker Damewood for his first state title. On Saturday, it was Damewood who controlled the match as Cisneros absorbed a 7-0 loss.
At 170 pounds, Jarred Montgomery rebounded from a quarterfinal loss to finish fourth, losing to Garrett Blackburn of Burns by fall (4:47) in the third-place match. Cade Stahl finished in fifth place at 160 pounds, while Jared Tompkins (152 pounds), Denver Shadden (132 pounds) and David Cervantes (113 pounds) each recorded sixth-place finishes.
Also competing for Dayton were Adan Gutierrez (120 pounds), Oscar Rosas (126 pounds), Cody Stahl (145 pounds), Andres Gonzalez (220 pounds) and Aaron Hiatt (285 pounds).
Willamina senior Skyler Voigt, a defending champion and the No. 1 seed at 126 pounds, was pinned in overtime (6:18) by Riverside's Hans Rockwell in the Class 3A final at that weight. Bulldogs sophomore Austin Howard dropped a 13-10 decision to Glide's Garret Short in the Class 3A 160-pound final.
In the 138-pound class, Keegan Davis of Willamina rebounded from a quarterfinal loss to Devin Freeman to take fifth place, defeating Burns’ Peter Cain by a 13-3 major decision in the fifth-place match.
Also competing for Willamina were Justin Fasana (106 pounds), Jordan Combs (120 pounds) and Tyler Heidt (170 pounds).
Amity’s lone wrestler, senior Kory Reynolds, went 2-3 at the Class 3A 220-pound bracket and placed sixth. Reynolds won an 11-3 major decision over Andres Gonzalez of Dayton, 11-3, in consolation to avenge a loss to Gonzalez in the Class 3A Special District 2 championships.
“We had them write down all their goals (at the beginning of the season) and his was to go to state and place in the top six,” Warriors coach Vinnie Rolfness said. “To come back and beat someone he lost to at districts was awesome.”
Sheridan freshman Tristan Joseph, competing in the Class 3A 113-pound bracket, went 0-2 at the tournament.