Crater’s wrestling team found itself in a unique position Saturday following the Midwestern League district championships at Ashland High.
What wasn’t unique was that the Comets were the runaway winners; they’ve been there and done that.
Also not unique was how the Comets secured an eye-popping 21 state qualifiers for the Class 5A state tournament; they’re annually in the 15 to 21 range.
The unique part for Crater head coach Greg Haga and his young squad is that there may still be plenty of room to grow leading into the state tourney, set for Feb. 22-23 at Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
“I thought overall it was a great tournament for us,” said Haga. “We had 11 (junior varsity) guys place and I think seven of them qualified for the state tourney and 21 overall. That is definitely a sizable number for as young as this group is.”
That said, Crater was limited to four district champions after advancing 11 into Saturday’s championship finals.
“A couple weights got away from us that maybe we had a chance of dealing with better,” said the Crater coach. “We’ve got to take a big push here in the next two weeks and fix some things a little bit and get a little tougher.”
With champions Tanner Ulrey, Angel Diaz, Hunter Hiatt and Tony Flores leading the charge, Crater amassed 496.5 points to outdistance runner-up Thurston (355).
Ulrey scored a 7-2 decision over Thurston’s Hunter Harwood at 120 pounds, but Haga said the final score wasn’t indicative of the match for his senior leader.
“Tanner Ulrey dominated that match,” said Haga. “The score wasn’t that huge but he didn’t ever put himself in a spot to get scored on.”
Points were hard to come by in Diaz’s 1-0 championship win over Thurston’s Zane Stewart at 126, but the Crater senior was able to do enough to keep his opponent at bay. The senior Diaz earned an escape in the second round, and when Stewart chose both wrestlers on their feet for the third period, Diaz battled his way to a stalemate.
Hiatt had split the regular season matchup with Thurston’s Calvin Royce so Saturday’s 4-0 decision in the 145 final was especially gratifying, while Flores held firm for his third district title by fending off Ashland’s Trevor Fulton for an 8-5 decision at 182.
When it comes to performance based on ratio, Eagle Point may have had just as good of a finish to the district meet as the Comets. The Eagles entered only 19 wrestlers — 17 male and two female — and wound up with four champions of their own and 11 state qualifiers to finish third overall with 269.5 points.
“The kids wrestled really well; we had a good day,” said Eagle Point head coach Kacey McNulty. “Going 4-for-4 in the finals is really gratifying, and those kids deserved it. They did a great job, all of them.”
Paving the way for the Eagles were champions Trigger Weyers (106), Freddy Barajas (113), Bradey Thrash (132) and Josh Sitzer (170). Each dominated their finals match, with Weyers pinning Thurston’s Logan Slonecker in 3:31, Barajas pinning Crater’s Isaac Childress in 2:45, Thrash scoring a 17-8 major decision over Crater’s Kellen Kerrigan and Sitzer winning 9-2 over Crater’s Tanner Lee.
“We just need to get our numbers up and we’ll be right there with those other teams, taking some of their points away,” said McNulty.
Springfield finished fourth in the team standings at 136.5 points, followed by Willamette (124), North Eugene (100.5), Churchill (95.5), North Bend (95.5) and Ashland (70).
Also placing second for Crater were Colby Meek (138), Nathan Santoni (152), Logan Lowder (160) and Joseph Jordahl (195), who ran into two-time defending state champion Avery Jaramillo of Thurston in his championship final.
Santoni had a good opportunity for a district title slip away when Springfield’s Josiah Rodriguez scored an escape with a few seconds remaining in their match for a 6-5 decision, while Kerrigan was faring well against Thrash until Haga said he “got a little sloppy” and had some points scored on him.
While elements for every wrestler can be shored up between now and the state tournament, Haga said his big take from the two-day district was how well the Comets’ No. 2 wrestlers at certain weights stepped up, led by third-place finishers Colton Bryant (120), Matthew Bolanos (126), Isaiah Griffith (138), Ayden Kerrigan (152) and Ethan Van Hook (170). Aric Adams (220) and Kaden Olson (285) also placed third for Crater.
“With our second men ending up third in the district, I thought that was good production from all of those guys,” said Haga. “Our JV guys have done quite well throughout the year so I knew they were going to do a great job for us.”
Placing third for Eagle Point were Kyle O’Neil (145), Jesse Cayo (160) and Marc Milazzo (195).
After finishing as runner-up at 182, Fulton is the lone Ashland state qualifier.
Thurston’s Jaramillo was named the MWL’s outstanding wrestler for the upper weights, while 138-pound teammate Manuel Monroy earned the same distinction for the lower weights in voting by the MWL coaches.
MWL District Championships
TEAM SCORES: Crater 496.5, Thurston 355, Eagle Point 269.5, Springfield 136.5, Willamette 124, North Eugene 100.5, Churchill 95.5, North Bend 95.5, Ashland 70.
106 — Trigger Weyers, EP, pinned Logan Slonecker, Thu, 3:31; 113 — Freddy Barajas, EP, pinned Isaac Childress, Cra, 2:45; 120 — Tanner Ulrey, Cra, dec. Hunter Harwood, Thu, 7-2; 126 — Angel Diaz, Cra, dec. Zane Stewart, Thu, 1-0; 132 — Bradey Thrash, EP, major dec. Kellen Kerrigan, Cra, 17-8.
138 — Manuel Monroy, Thu, pinned Colby Meek, Cra, :20; 145 — Hunter Hiatt, Cra, dec. Calvin Royce, Thu, 4-0; 152 — Josiah Rodriguez, Spr, dec. Nathan Santoni, Cra, 6-5; 160 — Austin Watson, Thu, pinned Logan Lowder, Cra, :55.
170 — Josh Sitzer, EP, dec. Tanner Lee, Cra, 9-2; 182 — Tony Flores, Cra, dec. Trevor Fulton, Ash, 8-5; 195 — Avery Jaramillo, Thu, pinned Joseph Jordahl, Cra, 3:35; 220 — Colten Hallett, Thu, dec. Logan Kerr, NE, 6-0; 285 — Jayden deFond, Chu, pinned Brian Jenkins, Thu, 1:53.
106 — Eduardo Matheus, Thu, pinned Luke Callahan, EP, 2:33; 113 — Jonathan Morales, Wil, pinned Jesse Stalder, Chu, 1:47; 120 — Colton Bryant, Cra, dec. Joshua Sitowski, Chu, 9-7 SV; 126 — Matthew Bolanos, Cra, pinned Danny Patterson, EP, 3:21; 132 — Dylan Averill, Thu, dec. Ishmael Blas, NE, 4-2.
138 — Isaiah Griffith, Cra, pinned Brett Hieter, Thu, 1:55; 145 — Kyle O’Neil, EP, pinned Jage Pope, Cra, 3:27; 152 — Ayden Kerrigan, Cra, dec. Brian De La Cruz, EP, 12-8; 160 — Jesse Cayo, EP, dec. Angel Perez, Cra, 12-11.
170 — Ethan Van Hook, Cra, pinned Zach Ausborn, Wil, :41; 182 — Francisco Escalante, Spr, pinned Michael Dardis, Wil, :29; 195 — Marc Milazzo, EP, pinned Brandon Unrein, Spr, 1:22; 220 — Aric Adams, Cra, dec. Bradley Castro, EP, 7-0; 285 — Kaden Olson, Cra, won by forfeit over Isaiah Mays, Cra.