PORTLAND — Welcome to the big stage, Eleazar Deluca.
The confident 140-pound Phoenix freshman capped a dominating second day at the Class 4A state wrestling tournament by breezing through third-seeded Trent Hardwick of La Grande, 12-5, in the semifinals at Memorial Coliseum on Friday.
Deluca, ranked as the fifth-best freshman in the country by WIN Magazine, won his quarterfinal Friday with a 10-0 decision over Wyatt Law — this after he upset second-seeded Brock Crocker 5-2 in the opening round on Thursday.
"I always come to win," Deluca said. "It doesn't matter who I'm wrestling. I'm just coming out here to be aggressive."
No question, he was the aggressor on Friday.
He dominated the match against Hardwick, earning a single-leg takedown mere seconds in.
"He's an intense wrestler," Phoenix coach John Farmer said. "He just keeps coming after you. If you let your guard down for a second, he's going to score points."
Deluca will meet his season-long nemesis in the finals today in top-seeded Sam Winter of Illinois Valley, a 6-1 winner in the semifinals over Molalla's Taelor Hess.
The defending-state champion Winter has defeated Deluca three times this season, most recently 2-0 for the Skyline Conference title.
"He's the guy to beat, and I'm going to beat him," Deluca said.
Winter and Deluca embraced in the hallway of the arena shortly after both advanced.
"I like it, and I don't like it," said Winter of facing Deluca for the fourth time. "I know I can beat him. But then again, he knows everything I'm going to do."
Deluca has inched closer to Winter in each meeting. He lost 8-0 in the first, then in double overtime prior to the Skyline district meet.
Farmer believes such familiarity typically benefits the challenger.
"The guy who lost is constantly reevaluating, what did I do wrong here, what do I need to change, maybe I need to do this?" Farmer said.
He added: "Sam's more set in his ways. Deluca can change a little bit. We think we can throw a different look at him and hopefully catch him by surprise."
Deluca will be joined in the finals by teammate Josh Warden, a 152-pound junior. He posted an almost equally dominant victory by defeating Tillamook's Tucker Cook in the semifinals, 13-5.
Warden placed eighth at 140 last season. He'll battle top-seeded Andy Godfrey of La Grande today for the state title.
"It feels a lot better than last year," Warden said.
Warden spent most of the season wrestling at 160 and 171 and just recently dropped down to 152 after the injury to teammate Luke Amuchastegui.
He's looked mighty comfortable so far at his new weight. He pinned La Grande's Justin Hug in 50 seconds in the quarterfinals earlier Friday.
Against Cook in the semifinals, Warden was nearly caught on his back in the first round but managed to escape. The only points he allowed the rest of the way came after two Cook escapes in the third period.
"I started to get flustered," Warden said. "I really wanted to pin him. I started losing my head a little, and the coaches had to tell me to calm down. I guess overall it went pretty good."
Illinois Valley, which finished the day in fourth with 94.5 points, had four wrestlers reach the semifinals with two advancing. Freshman Jesse Orndoff (103) and Winter moved on while Chris Culver (112) and top-seeded Lance Tausaga (215) lost. Tausaga fell 3-2 in overtime to Tillamook's Aaron Barichio.
North Valley's Paul Gutzman, a No. 1 seed, is headed to the finals at 285 after pinning Central's Marcus Cuellar in 1:37.
Phoenix's Ryan Tourville fell just short of reaching the title.
He dropped a 10-8 decision to top-ranked Adam Sprague of Pleasant Hill. Sprague took down Tourville with less than 30 seconds remaining and earned back points for the win.
Tourville is still in position to better his fifth-place finish of last season.
Phoenix finished Friday in 11th with 78 points. Henley holds a slim lead, 106-103, over Sweet Home for first place in the team title race.
Prior to the semifinal round, Phoenix had two wrestlers stay alive in the consolation bracket with 160-pounder Emmet Hettum and 189-pounder Alex Machado.
In Class 3A, Rogue River's Patrick Wiggins (119) won his first match of the tournament before losing to top-seeded Landon Hartley of Nyssa by technical fall. He came back later to defeat Dayton's Randy Harmon by technical fall.
Wiggins' teammate John Jessee followed a similar path. He earned a 7-4 decision over Keifer Seisinger in his opener before being pinned by top-seeded Eric Coy of Vale in 29 seconds. Jessee avoided elimination after Waldport's Dustin Woosley forfeited due to injury.
Cascade Christian's only state qualifier, 171-pounder Derek Brite, was pinned in 1:15 in his opener against top-seeded Clayton Burtis of Colton. But Brite reached the quarterfinals of the consolation bracket with a 14-2 major decision against Grant Union's Clay Thomas.
TEAM SCORES (Top 10) — 1, Henley 106; 2, Sweet Home 103; 3, McLoughlin 99.5; 4, Tillamook 98; 5, Molalla 95; 6, Illinois Valley, 94.5; 7, La Grande 92.5; 8, Scappoose 85; 9, South Umpqua 80.5; 10, Pleasant Hill 79.5.
OTHER LOCAL TEAMS — 11, Phoenix 78; t-21 North Valley 28; 37, Hidden Valley 3.
103 — Zorg Loustalet, Henley, maj. dec. Blake Woosley, Philomath, 14-0; Jesse Orndoff, IV, pinned Steven Pinto, Estacada, 5:00.
112 — Adam Hayner, Molalla, pinned Chris Culver, IV, 1:01; Brian Bowers, South Umpqua, dec. Ryan Bullock, McLoughlin, 4-2.
119 — Adam Smith, Tillamook, dec. Jake Marshall, Molalla, 5-3; Lamont Hook, Henley, dec. Nick Cheser, North Bend, 5-4.
125 — Zach Clark, Cascade, dec. Nico Martinez, Ontario, 7-5; Vince Morales, Ontario, maj. dec. Trinity Castner, Douglas, 18-5.
130 — Drew Erickson, Pleasant Hill, dec. Dustin Woosley, Tillamook, 5-2; Taylor Tagle, Sweet Home, pinned Jose Stanley, Cottage Grove, 5:25.
135 — Adam Sprague, Pleasant Hill, dec. Ryan Tourville, Phoenix, 10-8; Cody Randall, North Marion, pinned Seth Honl, Scappoose, 2:25.
140 — Sam Winter, IV, dec. Taelor Hess, Molalla, 6-1; Eleazar Deluca, Phoenix, dec. Trent Hardwick, La Grande, 12-5.
145 — Brady Lee, Molalla, maj. dec. Jack Perry, Sweet Home, 8-0; Jacob Stanley, Cottage Grove, maj. dec. Jace Sargent, McLoughlin, 10-2.
152 — Andy Godfrey, La Grande, dec. Alex Simantel, Scappoose, 9-7; Josh Warden, Phoenix, maj. dec. Tucker Cook, Tillamook, 13-5.
160 — John Tuck, La Grande, maj. dec. Travis Hill, Scappoose, 12-0; Caleb Pendleton, Scappoose, dec. Dillon Davidson, Cascade, 14-7.
171 — Ryan Spooner, Pleasant Hill, dec. JR Gates, Cascade, 10-9; Brett Mathes, Henley, pinned Aaron Aguilera, Scappoose, 4:54.
189 — Bo Younker, South Umpqua, maj. dec. Anthony Albright, Sweet Home, 11-1; Tyler Spinas, Molalla, maj. dec. Ted Shaw, Baker, 11-2.
215 — Aaron Barichio, Tillamook, dec. Lance Tausaga, IV, 3-2 OT; Chance Banta, Astoria, pinned Nick Watts, McLoughlin, 3:39.
285 — Paul Gutzman, NV, pinned Marcus Cuellar, Central, 1:37; Angel Palacios, McLoughlin, dec. J.T. Strang, Tillamook, 7-3.
103 — Jesse Orndoff, IV, pinned Robbie Hoggie, La Pine, :30.
112 — Chris Culver IV, dec. Jesse Sargent, McLoughlin, 5-4 (OT).
125 — Zaqch Clark, Cascade, pinned Jon Anderson, IV, 1:40.
135 — Ryan Tourville, Pho, dec. Quayde Fisher, IV, 11-10; COdy Randall, NM, tech fall Nich Head, Sisters, 3:45.
140 — Sam Winter, IV, tech fall Andy Hardenbrook, La Grande 4:10; Eleazar DeLucca, Pho, dec. Wyatt Law, McLoughlin, 10-0.
152 — Josh Warden, Pho, pinned Justin Hug, La Grande, :50.
160 — Caleb Pendleton, Scappoose, dec. Emmet Hettun, Pho, 12-2.
171 — Ryan Spooner, Pleasant Hill, dec. Landy Wells, IV, 12-5.
189 — Bo Younker, South Umpqua, dec. Alex Machado, Pho, 12-0; Tyler Spinas, Molalla, pinned Travis George NV, 2:21.
215 — Lance Tausaga, IV, dec. Jake Shukle, Baker, 11-3.
285 — Paul Gutzman, NV, pinned Weston Stromeyer, Elmira, :38.
103 — Jake Stigall, NM, dec. Spencer Bradford, Estacada, 6-2.
125 — Jon Anderson, IV, by forfeit over John Near, Seaside.
125 — Tyler Stigall, NM, dec. Jordan Smith, Scappoose, 8-6.
135 — Quayde Fisher, IV, dec. Kyle Hummer, Sweet Home, 11-3.
160 — Emmet Hettum, Pho, dec. Brad Pitts, Sweet Home, 5-0.
171 — Landy Wells, IV, dec. Ricky Cedilo, Central, 7-0; Victor Toran, NM, dec. Brett Carder, Pho, 5-2.
189 — Kyle Summers, Sutherlin, pinned Travis George, NV, 2:13
215 — Marc Callagan, Sweet Home dec. Harred Houston, IV, 12-4.
TEAM SCORES (Top 10) — 1, Burns 108; 2, Nyssa 93.5; 3, Reedsport 90; 4, Myrtle Point 85; 5, Gold Beach 81.5; 6, Glide 60; t-7, Clatskanie 58; t-7 Sheridan 58; 9, Willamina 48; 10, Rainier 46.
OTHER LOCAL TEAMS — 21, Rogue River 11.5; 28, Cascade Christian 2.
119 — Patrick Wiggins, RR, pinned Jed Stebbins, Rainier, 2:39.
135 — Isaac Whitman, Grant Union, dec. John Dees, RR, 6-3.
145 — BJ Wilson, Willamina, pinned Chris Lopez, RR, 3:43.
171 — Clayton Burtis, Colton, pinned Derek Brite, CC, 1:15;
215 — John Jessee, RR, dec. Keifer Seisinger, 7-4.
119 — Landon Hartley, Nyssa, tech. fall Patrick Wiggins, RR, 5:30;
215 — Eric Coye, Vale, pinned John Jessee, RR, :29.
119 — Patrick Wiggins, RR, tech. fall Randy Harmon, Dayton, 3:00;
135 — Dillon Hadlock, Rainier, maj. dec. John Dees, RR, 9-0;
145 — Conner Madison, Warrenton, pinned Chris Lopez, RR, 2:45;
171 — Derek Brite, CC, maj. dec. Clay Thomas, Grant Union, 14-2.
Reach reporter Luke Andrews at 776-4469, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org