PORTLAND — Eagle Point junior Freddy Barajas and Crater freshman Jimmy Jordahl accomplished much of what they were looking for at this week’s Class 5A wrestling state tournament.
The final step, however, proved to be a steep challenge, but one each is determined to conquer before all is said and done.
With each wrestling in their first state championship final Saturday, the 113-pound Barajas lost for the second straight season to top-seeded Crescent Valley standout Chance Lamer by technical fall, while Jordahl suffered a 12-4 major decision loss to defending champion Avery Jaramillo of Thurston.
“I just wanted to do the best I could,” said Barajas, who was the No. 3 seed. “Nothing worked for me this time but I’m going to keep working hard for next time.”
Jordahl carried the same sentiment after suffering his third loss of the year to Jaramillo, who pinned him in previous matches, most recently in the Midwestern League championship final.
“I was hoping it would go my way, that’s how everybody wants it to go, right?,” said the 15-year-old Jordahl. “But sometimes that’s not how it works. Getting to be the best can’t be this easy, you’ve just gotta keep working, and that’s what I hope to do this offseason.”
Last year, Lamer used an 18-1 technical fall over Barajas in the semifinals to storm his way to the 106 crown. This year, the attitude was different but the result the same as Lamer opened an 8-0 lead in the first period and won again, 16-0, for his only non-fall of the tournament.
“Last time he was way more on the attack than I was,” said Barajas. “This time I was trying to keep up the pace with him, it’s just something that I’ll keep working harder on.”
Eagle Point coach Kacey McNulty was pleased to see his first finalist since James McCoy in 2015 feel bold enough to try and take the match to Lamer.
“Freddy doesn’t back down from anybody and I’m proud of him for that,” said McNulty. “Chance is just a tough kid, really tough.”
Neither Eagle Point nor Crater had the semifinal surge each was looking for, but getting Jordahl to push through at 195 after seeing three teammates miss their chance before him was a much-needed boost for a Comet program that entered the tourney with top-four hopes but saw most of that glimmer fade Friday.
“It’s real impressive, especially at that weight,” said Crater coach Greg Haga of Jordahl reaching the finals in his debut showing. “We’ve had freshmen get there between the lighter-weighted guys; we haven’t had a guy in the upper weights like that make it to the final as a freshman. I can think of some of our really great wrestlers that came through here, like the Lee brothers and Shane Webster, and those guys didn’t make it.”
That bit of history was not lost on Jordahl, either.
“It means a lot to me; I know it’s more than most people get to do,” he said of finishing as state runner-up. “There’s not a high percentage of people that come up and are able to make it to here, but I’m glad I’m one of those people and I’m very appreciative of all my coaches and everybody that’s helped me get here.”
Jordahl proved that his upset of second-seeded JR Scott of Dallas in Friday’s quarterfinals was no fluke with even more determination Saturday morning. Trailing third-seeded Owen Magill of Silverton 2-0 just 30 seconds into their semifinal, Jordahl fought off a pin attempt and answered with his own reversal before rolling Magill on his back to earn a fall in 1:35.
“Jimmy goes hard all the time, that’s just what he does,” said Haga. “He’s a hard-working kid and you saw it in his matches, he just goes for it.”
It’s worth noting that Scott went on to beat Magill in the third-place final, so it’s not like Jordahl had an easy path to his final.
“Some of the people that watched him wrestle the first week or so of the season wouldn’t have thought there was a chance in heck that he could have made it and even been a state-placer, added the coach, “but all along we thought he could place at the state tournament.”
In the finals, Jaramillo built a 6-2 cushion by the midway point, when Jordahl’s nagging ankle injury flared up and caused a delay. It was 8-3 by the end of the period and 12-4 with a late second-period takedown before Jordahl created some excitement as he cranked his way toward a cradle that unfortunately never bore fruit.
“He improved each time against him,” said Haga. “The first time he wrestled he lost in the first round, the second time he got pinned in the third round. This time here he made it through and he actually made a match of it at the end. We got our hands locked in a cradle and we put ourselves in a position there to do something, and that’s all we can hope for. We were just hoping for the best.”
Friday’s struggles and a slow start to the morning proved costly in dropping Crater one spot shy of the trophy hunt, with the Comets placing fifth with 119 points. Crescent Valley edged Crook County for the 5A crown, 187.5 to 186, with Dallas (163.5) and Thurston (152.5) rounding out the top-4 teams.
Still, Crater was able to see senior Tanner Ulrey (120) place third, while seniors Angel Diaz (126), Hunter Hiatt (145) and Nathan Santoni (152) and sophomore Kellen Kerrigan (132) each placed fifth with wins in their final matches.
“I thought our guys came through real well here in the last round to kind of end on a good mark,” said Haga.
Barajas, who placed fifth at 106 last year, had reached the final with a pin of second-seeded Kagen Lawrence of Redmond in 1 minute, 45 seconds after striking quickly in the semis.
Eagle Point senior Trigger Weyers was up 5-0 in his morning semifinal against fifth-seeded sophomore Logan Basham of North Salem but saw that all slip away in the second period when he was taken down and pinned in 3:34. The top-seeded Eagle didn’t let that hold him back, however, and went on to place fourth as EP’s only other state placer.
The Eagles finished 12th with 66 points.
“The kids wrestled well,” said McNulty. “We had some that could have gone a different way and we could’ve had a lot better team outcome but I’m happy with these guys. It was nice to have a kid back in the finals and we’ll have Freddy back next year and go back to work on Monday.”
Ashland’s lone state qualifier, senior Trevor Fulton, saw his dream run toward a potential state title hit a snag with a 6-2 loss to Ridgeview’s Cole Jackson in the semifinals, but the No. 7 seed continued to surpass his expectations by placing third at 182. Fulton scored a 10-2 major decision over No. 2 seed Joseph Blisseck of Lebanon in the third-place final.
CLASS 6A: North Medford finished with six state placers but couldn’t help wonder what might have been after a tough winless showing in the championship finals despite valiant efforts by senior Andres Ramirez (145) and juniors Enrique Jaime (120) and Cole Zoller (138).
All three Black Tornado wrestlers came out aggressive and scored the first points in their semifinal matches, but each saw those leads gradually slip away to prevent North’s hopes for a potential state champion after the program had claimed crowns from 2014, ‘15 and ‘16.
Jaime’s matchup with second-seeded Jontae Hardaway of Cleveland was 3-all with one minute to go when he saw both of his arms locked up on a restart and was turned for a deciding three-point near fall.
Ramirez was even at 2-2 in his semifinal with third-seeded Cael Brunson of West Linn in a tug-of-war style match before Brunson scored a takedown with 56 seconds to go and then held Ramirez down to reach the finals.
In a match with several blood time stoppages for Zoller, he trailed only 4-3 when second-seeded Joey Coste of Westview managed a takedown with one minute to go in each of the final two periods to win 8-3.
“Obviously it didn’t end up in those matches the way that we wanted it to,” said North Medford interim coach Jimmy Ulrey. “Looking back we were super close to possibly having three guys in the finals and it’s a lot different story. They came out ready to wrestle, it’s just unfortunately things didn’t work our way at the end of the matches.”
Zoller went on to place third with a 15-0 technical fall over Roseburg’s Caleb Jeffers in the third-place final, while Ramirez joined sophomore Alex Silva (106) in placing fourth, Jaime and senior Jullian Stone (220) each finished fifth and senior Thomas Hamilton (160) was sixth.
“That’s a lot of state placers when you think about it,” said Ulrey, whose team also saw Ethan Miller (152) fall one win shy of the placing rounds. “It’s just unfortunately there’s such a wide gap from the top 10 teams to the rest of the 6A classification that these people at the top are placing so many more as well.”
After entering with hopes of scoring the program’s third trophy in five years and fourth overall, North Medford fell short of that goal but still finished in sixth place with 112 points. Roseburg (263) edged Newberg (256) for its sixth straight 6A team title, followed by Sprague (188), Mountain View (151) and West Linn (133).
“I was proud of the kids, they wrestled well for the most part,” said Ulrey. “We just didn’t have a few things go our way but that’s wrestling, that’s the way it goes.”
South Medford freshman Brayden Ostvik finished one win shy of the placing round with a morning consolation loss.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry