PORTLAND — Sporting "Team Haga" T-shirts, the Crater wrestling contingent mounted a typical Friday run at the Class 5A state tournament at Memorial Coliseum.
Six of the nine Crater wrestlers that had advanced to the morning quarterfinals moved on to the semifinals and, of that group, four proved victorious and will take to the mat tonight in the championship finals.
In all, the Comets assured themselves of returning home with eight state-placers. The only thing left to be decided today is how high up the ladder those wrestlers will finish, and what trophy Crater will be putting in its case for the 12th straight season.
The Comets enter the final day of action in third place with 127 points, just 15 behind second-place Thurston and 21 ahead of fourth-place Hillsboro. Hermiston has essentially secured the 5A team title with 234 points through two days.
"If we have a good day (today), second is not out of the question," said Crater interim head coach Denny Walters, whose team needs to finish among the top four to earn a trophy. "I know we're a little bit behind, but we're still fighting for everything we can get."
Eagle Point stands seventh with 61.5 points, but will have some work to do if the Eagles are going to reach the top four. Eagle Point advanced only one of its nine quarterfinalists into Friday night's semifinals and, despite a gritty effort, Garrett Davis wasn't able to make it into the finals.
The Eagles will finish with seven state-placers.
"We're licking wounds right now," said Eagle Point head coach Kacey McNulty. "We'll see if (today) is a better day. Hopefully it is. We've still got a chance."
At the 6A level, North Medford's Ryan Mahoney (145 pounds) and South Medford's Ken Hyland (160) each advanced to the semifinals but came up short. The Black Tornado's Ammon Ebert (135), Cory Haggans (152) and Robert Ross (285) remain in contention in the consolation bracket.
For Crater, Friday was a day to put on another unified display of support for suspended head coach Greg Haga, but it also turned into much more as the Comets kept piling up the wins.
No run was more impressive — and surprising — than that of senior Nick Ferris, who will be joined by Brock Gutches (152), Logan Brooks (189) and Darrio Mobley (215) in tonight's finals.
With two wins Friday, Ferris was able to equal his combined total during his three previous trips to state. He went 0-2 at state as a freshman at 119, and 1-2 as a sophomore at that same weight. Last year, his 2-2 run stalled just short of the placing rounds.
Given one last shot to place at state, the ninth-ranked Ferris secured a 7-5 overtime win in Thursday's opening round and pulled off another nail-biter Friday with a 9-7 quarterfinal win over Crook County's Brett Gast, ranked and seeded No. 2 at 125.
"Gast is nails, but Nick just kept the heat on," said Walters.
Ferris trailed 4-1 in the second round before a takedown with two seconds to go gave him new life at 4-3. After a back-and-forth scoring tussle, Ferris secured a match-winning takedown inside the final 15 seconds to win 9-7.
With the pressure of placing off his shoulders, Ferris turned a simple 4-2 lead in the second period into a 10-2 advantage with a takedown and near-fall in the semifinals against West Albany's Matt Christensen. The 18-year-old Comet went on to win 14-3.
"It was a big scramble and I ended up just getting lucky with a head-and-arm," Ferris said of the deciding move. "I thought I was going to pin him for a second."
While Ferris isn't as well known as some of his teammates, Walters said it didn't surprise him at all that the 125-pounder made it into the finals.
"A kid like him, who shows up every day and works his butt off, people like him need to get rewarded," said Walters. "The bottom line is he doesn't do anything pretty. He just keeps pounding, pounding and blasting. That's just Nick. He just wears people out. He's the type of kid that makes people quit."
Interestingly enough, Walters said Ferris had been a little frustrated at the beginning of the season and pondered whether he wanted to continue wrestling. His younger brother, Tony, is already sitting out the season, but Nick Ferris chose to stick with it thanks to inspiration provided by Haga and couldn't be happier with his decision.
"It's not really explainable," he said of his state run. "This has been fun and pretty exciting. Hopefully I can keep it up."
Gutches made quick work of No. 5 seed Joe Ashby of Hillsboro in their semifinal, scoring a stunning pin in 25 seconds.
"I wasn't really trying to get out of their fast, I was just wrestling," said Gutches. "I just took him down and turned him."
Brooks found himself in a 4-4 tie with top-seeded Levi Roan of Crook County in his semifinal but turned up the intensity and won going away, 9-5.
"I knew that kid was tough," added Brooks. "I was going in there expecting a fight and that's exactly what I got."
The win was especially important for Brooks since it gives him a chance to duplicate a feat accomplished by his older brother Colin, who won a state title for Crater in 2006.
"For me, I've always looked up to my older brother," said Brooks. "He was a state champion and probably one of the toughest individuals I know and now I can say, 'Hey, I was in the state finals, too,' and hopefully I can be a state champion because that's my goal."
One of the few things that didn't go Crater's way Friday came right away for Walters when 112-pounder Skyler Prislac didn't make weight by one-tenth of a pound and had to forfeit his quarterfinal.
At Memorial Coliseum, Portland
TEAM SCORES (Top 10) — 1, Newberg, 164; 2, Roseburg, 131.5; 3, Sprague, 112.5; 4, Canby, 91; 5, (tie) McNary, 90, and West Salem, 90; 7, Oregon City, 89; 8, Tualatin, 66; 9, Hood River Valley, 56; 10, Clackamas, 50.5.
OTHER LOCAL TEAMS — 12, North Medford, 49.5; 13, Grants Pass, 48.5; T31, South Medford, 9; T37, Sheldon, 3, and South Eugene, 3.
103 — Josh Johnson, Forest Grove, major dec. Garrett Heinetz, David Douglas, 11-2; Tazz Tinner, Newberg, pinned Jake Handbury, Clackamas, 3:24.
112 — Dan Faas, Roseburg, dec. Peter Russo, Newberg, 4-3; Brady Fischer, Oregon City, dec. Levi Martinez, McNary, 5-4.
119 — Tommy Siciliano, Newberg, pinned A.J. Ballard, Canby, 2:55; Walter Blice, Tualatin, dec. Jordan Lowe, McNary, 4-3.
125 — Jacob Pletcher, McNary, pinned Josh Humlie, McMinnville, 4:49; John Reese, Gresham, dec. Alex Kostenborder, Sprague, 7-6.
130 — Justin Eldred, Grants Pass, dec. David Frasier, Hood River Valley, 13-6; Donald Paulson, West Linn, dec. Kyle Richardson, Canby, 1-0.
135 — Sam Mecham, Roseburg, dec. Robert Frasier, Hood River Valley, 10-5; Blake Borsberry, West Salem, dec. Sean Soliz, Redmond, 5-2.
140 — Jacob Kaufman, Newberg, dec. Dylan Fauver, Grants Pass, 6-3; Alex Elder, West Salem, dec. Sean Baker, Hood River Valley, 3-2.
145 — R.J. Pena, Sprague, pinned Ryan Mahoney, North Medford, 1:27; Clint Peebles, Newberg, dec. Dylan Westwang, Roseburg, 5-3 OT.
152 — Kaleb Cook, McKay, dec. Adam Swogger, South Salem, 7-5 OT; Dylan Fors, Roseburg, dec. Corey Ellison, West Salem, 9-6.
160 —Tony Gonzalez, McKay, dec. Ken Hyland, South Medford, 15-10 2OT; Brandon Griffin, Sprague, dec. Jacob Morris, Oregon City, 10-7.
171 — Miles Hygelund, Canby, dec. Tyler Sherman, Newberg, 5-4; Alec Ortiz, Newberg, pinned Mitchell Wilhelmi, Oregon City, 1:51.
189 — Taylor Johnson, Redmond, dec. Olajuwan Stiffler, Reynolds, 5-1 2OT; Michael Doman, Canby, dec. Jack Steinberg, Clackamas, 7-0.
215 — Tyler Steele, West Salem, dec. Alek Poti, Tualatin, 6-5 OT; Cody Mansur, Clackamas, pinned Devin Wells, Southridge, 1:40.
285 — Mitch Gaulke, West Linn, dec. Trent Gallegos, West Salem, 6-4 OT; David Vieru, Centennial, pinned Koby Pederson, McNary, 1:51.
103 — Jake Handbury, Clakamas, tech fall Chris McFall, NM, 1:19.
112— Peter Russo, Newburg, dec. Nathan Piader, GP, 2-0.
130 — Justin Eldred, GP, tech fall Puerin, Sprague, 3:40.
135 — Sean Soliz, Redmond, dec. Ammon Ebert, NM, 7-5 OT.
140 — Dylan Fauver, GP, dec. Aaron Farwell,Milwaukie, 5-3.
145 — Ryan Mahoney, NM, pinned Joe Guerreo, North Salem, 5:31.
160 — Ken Hyland, SM, dec. Dan Bogalko, Mckenzie, 11-5.
103 — Nick Grow, GP, pinned Chris McFall, NM, 2:31.
112 — Nathan Piader GP, dec. Alix Vang, Reynolds, 11-4.
119 — Luke Scruggs, Oregon City, pinned Luke Collins, GP, 4:25.
135 — Ammon Ebert, NM, dec. Eric Rau, Putnam, 12-0.
152 — Cory Haggans, NM, dec. Braiden Newton, Gresham, 7-6.
189 — Jonathan Byers, David Douglas, dec. Kody Bonham, NM, 5-1.
285 — Robert Ross, NM, pinned Marcos Orozco, McMinnville, :27.
TEAM SCORES (Top 10) — 1, Hermiston, 234; 2, Thurston, 142; 3, Crater, 127; 4, Hillsboro, 106; 5, Century, 79; 6, West Albany, 77.5; 7, Eagle Point, 61.5; 8, Cleveland, 57; 9, Jefferson, 54.5; 10, Crook County, 50.5.
OTHER LOCAL TEAMS — 21, Mazama, 17.5; 23, Ashland, 16; 33, Klamath Union, 2.
103 — Joey Delgado, Hermiston, major dec. Gerardo Linerez, West Albany, 11-2; McKennan Buckner, Crook County, dec. Joe Potts, Churchill, 6-5.
112 — C.J. Dircksen, Hermiston, dec. David Noah, Hillsboro, 5-1; Riley Omlid, Thurston, pinned Jeremy Artoff, Crater, 4:53.
119 — Ben Jorgensen, Hermiston, dec. Joe Gardner, Thurston, 7-2; Zach Binkerd, Hillsboro, dec. Jaylee Britt, Hermiston, 6-4.
125 — Mikie Rodriguez, Hillsboro, dec. Jack Samuel, Thurston, 9-2; Nick Ferris, Crater, major dec. Matt Christensen, West Albany, 14-3.
130 — Steven Quesada, Silverton, dec. Victor Aguilar, Glencoe, 7-3; Ryan Arand, Thurston, dec. Brandon Adolf, Hermiston, 5-1.
135 — John Hedge, Thurston, dec. Mike Savage, Pendleton, 11-6; Zac Brunson, Churchill, dec. Dylan Olsen, Hermiston, 8-3.
140 — Bryce McMahon, Hermiston, dec. Eli Marvin, West Albany, 11-6; Eric Luna, Cleveland, dec. Steven Sturdevant, Thurston, 6-0.
145 — Jacob Richard, West Albany, pinned Jake Scarminach, Ashland, 2:59; Tarrence Williams, Jefferson, dec. Andrew Nava, Hillsboro, 9-7.
152 — Brock Gutches, Crater, pinned Joe Ashby, Hillsboro, :25; Cody Britt, Hermiston, dec. Garrett Davis, Eagle Point, 7-4.
160 — Joel Arranda, Lebanon, dec. Kenny Fahndrich, Crater, 3-2; Cody Jones, Dallas, dec. Dillan Massey, Hermiston, 8-1.
171 — Anthony Juliano, Century, major dec. Cory Davis, Thurston, 14-5; Curtis Berger, Hermiston, major dec. Gabe Rebischke, Dallas, 14-2.
189 — Logan Brooks, Crater, dec. Levi Roan, Crook County, 9-5; Jordan Haag, Thurston, dec. Jacob Abrams, The Dalles Wahtonka, 1-0.
215 — Leo Hammer, Century, dec. Lale Ena, Hermiston, 8-6; Darrio Mobley, Crater, dec. Adam Carroll, Silverton, 2-1.
285 — Shaun Palakiko, Cleveland, pinned Brandon Murphy, West Albany, 3:16; Jacob Mitchell, Jefferson, pinned Jacob Kociemba, Hillsboro, 2:40.
103 — Joey Delgado, Hermiston, pinned Aaron Lorenz, Eagle Point, 1:42.
112 — CJ Dircksen, Hermiston, by forfeit over Skler Prislac, Crater; Jeremy Artoff, Crater dec. Bryce Reisnaur, Hillsboro, 6-1.
119 — Ben Jorgensen, Hermiston, tech. fall Ben Zomerdyk, Eagle Point, 6:00; Jaylee Britt, Hermiston, pinned Daniel Soto, Eagle Point, 1:06.
125 — Nick Ferris, Crater, dec. Brett Gast, Crook County, 9-7.
130 — Steven Quesada, Silverton, dec. Trent Kaiser, Eagle Point, 11-1.
135 — Dylan Olsen, Hermiston, pinned Brysen Winner, Crater, 1:00.
140 — Bryce McMahon, Hermiston, tech. fall Chris Wilson, Eagle Point 3:16.
145 — Jacob Richard, West Albany, tech. fall Josh Winner, Eagle Point, 3:09.
152 — Brock Gutches, Crater, fall Alden Durrant, Silverton, 1:35; Garrett Davis, Eagle Point, fall Corey Miller, Churchill, 5:55.
160 — Kenny Fahndrich, Crater dec. Ben Millard, Hermiston, 4-2; Joel Aranda, Lebanon, dec. Gage Baumer, Eagle Point, 7-3.
171 — Curtis Berger, Hermiston, dec. Steven Josephson, Eagle Point, 12-2.
215 — Darrio Mobley, Crater, dec. Mary Langager, Crescent Valley, 11-5.
285 — Jake Kociemba, Hillsboro, dec. Brandon Hesse, Crater, 2-1 (OT).
103 — Aaron Lorenz, Eagle Point, dec. Truman Winningham, Crater, 3-1.
112 — Tyler Nixon, Marshfield, by forfiet over Skler Prislac, Crater.
119 — Jared George, Crook County, dec. Ben Zomerdyk, Eagle Point, 12-0; Daniel Soto, Eagle Point, dec. Mike Macuk, Crater, 3-1.
130 — Trent Kaiser, Eagle Point dec. Tim Vandehey, Century, 13-7.
135 — Tyler Cremer, South Albany, dec. Brysen Winner, Crater, 12-6.
140 — Jake Gallo, Eagle Point, dec. Chris WIlson, Eagle Point, 2-0.
145 — Josh Winner, Eagle Point, by forfeit over Nick Mattos; Cody Spradlin, Hermiston, pinned Chance Fahndrich, Crater, 4:16.
160 — Trevor Mannen, Glencoe, dec. Gage Baumer, Eagle Point, 12-0; Jeremiah Swing, Crater, dec. Christopher Kramer, The Dalles Wahtonka, 3-1.
171 — Zach Bishop, Hermiston, dec. Issa Shahin, Ashland, 12-6; Steven Josephson, Eagle Point, dec. Tom Bautista, Willamette, 4-1.
285 — Brandon Hesse, Crater, pinned Woody Williams, Madras, 3:55.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail email@example.com