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Garner barely misses placing at nationals

It's a good bet that Brandon LaDick and Prescott Garner will have extra motivation to do well in the national freestyle wrestling championships, which begin Thursday in Fargo, N.D.

Both wrestlers were also entered in the national Greco tournament, which began last weekend at the same location, and neither West Linn grappler finished as well as they had hoped.

Garner had the best showing, winning four of six matches in the junior 119-pound division and coming within an eyelash of making it to the final round of eight. His only losses came against wrestlers that did make it to the final eight. In the process, they earned the All-American status that Garner was hoping to achieve.

'He was ready to place,' Steve Garner said of his son Prescott.

The younger Garner certainly had a history of placing at nationals. When he was 12, he finished fourth in Greco. The next year, he was fifth in the nation in both Greco and freestyle; and he took fourth in the collegiate competition that year. This was first trip to nationals since he was 13, but he was clearly ready for bigger and better things.

Despite being in the tougher of the two brackets at 119 pounds, Garner managed to turn in some impressive performances in this week's Greco event.

He started off the tournament with an easy decision over Jared Dulin of Delaware. In that match, Dulin was unable to score a single point in two rounds of action. Garner followed that effort by pinning Kenny Keller of Ohio in less than two minutes.

Garner then ran into possibly his toughest opponent in the tournament - Paul Garza of Arizona. Garza wound up winning that match with a fall.

That loss was upsetting for Garner, but he always has a way of bouncing back, his father said.

'He's a pretty resilient character,' Steve Garner said of his son. 'After losing to Garza, he came back and pinned a tough kid who had not lost any matches.'

That 'tough kid' was Jared Grigg of North Carolina and he wound up being Garner's easiest victory. Then came a hard-fought three-round victory over Ian Aguirre of Texas, who was one of the top-seeded wrestlers coming into the tournament. That was the first loss of the week for Aguirre, who wrestled three more times before getting knocked out. Amazingly, he managed to finish ahead of Garner.

Garner's Greco tourney then came to an end when he was held scoreless by Preston Gentry of Idaho. Gentry wound up finishing fifth while Garza, who also beat Garner, took eighth.

Meanwhile, the 135-pound LaDick was hoping for a better tournament but he found himself in one of the toughest weight classes in the tourney.

His week started off with a two-round loss to Vince Tawell of Maryland. But, with everything riding on his second match, LaDick bounced back with a convincing victory over Tim Hadavand of Texas. LaDick won the first round against Hadavand with a technical fall and then claimed the second round by a 6-0 score. Next up was Utah's Alex Knight, who was able to beat LaDick in two rounds.

The good news is that LaDick should fare better in the freestyle competition. Unlike Greco, freestyle allows a wrestler to use his legs during a match, and that's one of LaDick's strengths.

'His style should frustrate some guys,' Steve Garner said.