Buffs take third at district, five seniors advance to state tourney
After the Madras White Buffalos took third in the Class 3A district wrestling tournaments and will be sending 11 to state, the number far exceeded head coach Paul Brown's expectations and broke a long time Madras High School record.
"There were so many great performances by all the kids, it's hard to single out any one of them. Even kids who weren't expected (to qualify) got there," said Brown, who initially was hoping to send eight or nine to state. "It's tough to get there (to state) and it's a very good accomplishment."
The third place finish was a huge improvement from last year's fourth place finish at districts, when Madras qualified four grapplers for the state tournament. This year, however, the White Buffalos will have a better chance of making their mark at the "big dance."
"I've seen the brackets and where the kids are placed in those brackets. They all have a good chance at placing (in state). Anytime you win at state, that's huge. Having 11 kids is where you want to be. Having that many adds to the opportunity for success," noted Brown.
Heavyweight wrestler Blaine Begay was the lone grappler for the White Buffalos who finished in first place at district, to claim the individual title at 275 pounds, and will be one of three who are returning to the state tournament.
Among those heading to state, are also five seniors, two of which made the trip last year, Jacob Struck and Cory Carrillo. Last year, Struck missed out on making the final round when he lost a tough match in the semi-finals to place sixth overall in his weight class. This year, he plans on staying more focused in his final quest for a state title.
"I'm just worrying about working as hard as I can," said Struck, who was runner up at district after slipping to his opponent at 160 pounds. "I just want to keep that mental focus of going out on the mat ready."
Coach Brown also praised the senior, noting Struck's poise on the mat throughout the entire season.
"Jacob has had an awesome year. When you look at all his losses, they are all losses by just one point. It was a tough loss for him (at district), but he wrestles his heart out every time he steps out on the mat," said Brown.
Besides Struck and Carrillo, who also took second at the district tournament at 125 pounds, Carmen Burgos (112), Orrin Beals (135) and Cameron Scranton (152) round out the senior line-up heading to state.
At district, Burgos placed third, while Beals took second.
Unable to wrestle throughout much of the season due to a shoulder injury he incurred at Christmas, Scranton came back to wrestle in his first outing at the district tournament since recovering, and took an impressive third-place finish to qualify.
"For him to qualify after being out so long is a fabulous accomplishment," noted Coach Brown.
Brown also praised the numerous other wrestlers going to state, including Cameron Rosenfield (130) who took second at district, Jeremy DuPont (145) and J.D. Bell (189), who each placed third and gave "outstanding performances," according to Brown.
Also heading to the state tournament are Chris Monroe (140), who finished third at district, as did freshman Will Weinert (275).
With 11 heading to state and slashing the high school record, Coach Brown attributed the huge improvement to the fact that this year's wrestling team put forth even more dedication than in the past. And with a new wrestling room, Brown surmised the White Buffalos have had a boost in pride and confidence.
"I think the hard work and determination in the wrestling room this year has been much better than last year," said Brown, "And maybe it's the fact we have a brand new room they (the Buffs) can be proud of. That's been 20 years coming."
Regardless of the reason, Coach Brown is more than happy with the White Buffalos' third place finish at district, and with sending 11 to state. Last year, the Buffs didn't place state, but Coach Brown is optimistic that won't be the case this year.
For the tournament, league-leading Estacada took the district crown with a total of 439 points, followed by Sherwood, with 271.5 points. Placing behind Madras in fourth place was Gladstone (144 points), while Wilsonville took fifth (144).