>Champion McFarland being joined by four third-place Madras teammates
Spurred by senior Chad McFarland's winning of the 130-pound championship and the Tri-Valley District tournament's Outstanding Wrestler honor, the Madras High School White Buffalo wrestlers used four third places to place five team members in this week's Oregon 3A state championship tourney.
Orrin Beals, Tony Hansen, Jacob Struck and Louis Smith each joined McFarland in qualifying for the state tournament that begins Thursday at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland in two sessions featuring 4A and 3A competition. The two larger divisions will be joined by 2A and 1A competitors, including 11 from Culver, on Friday.
Madras had added competitors in the Tri-Valley championships but had them eliminated in the course of Friday's opening rounds and Saturday's preliminary wrestling.
There were a couple of Buffs who even made it to the semi-final round in their weight division only to be bounced out when they lost that match and their next, which was in the semi-final of the third-place bracket. Each of the championship bracket's semi-final losers was rematched in the semi-finals of the third-place bracket.
That consolation semi-final round proved problematic for some Madras wrestlers including James Wolfe at 152, Kenny Smith at 160, Justin Fox at 171, Jake Collier at 189, Gordon Scott at 215 and Kerry Scott at 275.
Just getting eliminated from the championship round was tougher on some of the Madras wrestlers.
Gordon Scott's match at 215, for example, went into overtime before he was called for having been down when it appeared he had rolled through a takedown attempt, noted Coach Paul Brown of Madras.
The varied Buffs did well, said Brown, but just not quite good enough in a couple of cases. Having one spot clinched and bidding for six others headed into the final session was only a little different than the situation Madras was in last year, Brown noted.
Getting as many wrestlers in the state tournament as it did was a good accomplishment for Madras, said Brown. He was aided by Sean Smith and Scott Kimble throughout a day that required one coach to leave the other two and go help a team member quite regularly as there were enough Buffs alive to often have two on the mats at the same time in the early portion of Saturday's action.
The extra rounds in the third-place brackets tested the endurance of even the smaller wrestlers.
"I was was so tired I was having trouble writing my name straight after the last match," Beals said after securing the first of Madras' spots in the state tourney, at 103.
"It was a lot harder than I expected," Beals noted of the added intensity of having a state-tournament appearance at stake in the third-place match. He had beaten his foe in the match earlier in the season but needed all his moves and cunning to get ahead and keep ahead.
McFarland even faced similar challenges in his title match against Ian Dimmick, who he had beaten earlier in the year.
"I just wanted it, I guess. I felt like God helped me. It took the last jolt of energy I had to escape and I got it," McFarland said of a move that allowed him to take the match to overtime and win.
Hansen got an early 6-1 lead in his third-place match so found himself in a protective position more than the others. Instead of risking having a move that would score a pin or earn an escape backfire, Hansen noted that he was "making sure not to get reversed," once he got control. He noticed people were rooting for different wrestlers so he suddenly had allies from teams hoping his opponent would lose.
Struck finished off the most impressively of the Buffs in third-place matches as he found a move and position to pin his 140-pound opponent from Estacada.
Smith was in a closer match, but pushed his way into a 5-2 lead after being tied 2-2 early in the 145 third-place match. It took an escape to open a 6-4 lead for Smith, but he then held on to claim his ticket to the Coliseum floor.
With Brown having to grab a drink of thirst quencher himself, Smith said the coach told him simply to keep going with his moves and to "wrestle smart" in the momentarily lapse between periods.
Wolfe battled to get out of trouble against a Wilsonville foe in his match for third and did come up with a takedown late in the third period but could turn the wrestler to his back for the pin that was necessary to wipe out the lead.
Davey Culpus found himself boxed in by Biff Boyle of The Dalles in the third-place 275 match. Failing to get the momentum going to turn an escape into a full reversal and potential near fall points kept Culpus from making the match get closer than the 18-9 stroll Boyle turned it into.
Buffs who bowed out in the fifth- and sixth-place matches added a bit to the team total, thanks to some wins earlier.
Those included the likes of Kenny Smith, Fox and Kerry Ford, along with Jake Collier.
Some of the Madras wrestlers may elect to take part in a freestyle portion of the club season which is coming up in a few weeks, Kimble explained.
There will also be a camp this summer featuring an Olympic medalist at Madras which the assistant coach has helped set up. First, though, the six state-tournament Buffs will be bidding for a medal of their own at Memorial Coliseum in Portland.