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Braves tested at wrestling tourneys

Banks tunes up with a pair of strong performances at early season events

The Banks wrestling team capped a busy week with a third-place finish at the Hank Schmidlin Memorial Tournament last Wednesday, followed by a 10th-place finish at the Muilenburg Invitational on Friday in La Grande.

Banks hosted the annual Hank Schmidlin tourney last week, dropping a 52-30 dual meet decision to Gladstone in the first round, but bouncing back with wins over Rainier (47-36) and Yamhill-Carlton (48-27). Colin Purinton, Travis Thompson, Bubba Brown and Garrett Bossert all went undefeated during the tournament to spark the Braves to third place overall.

'We started out kind of slow in the first dual,' said Banks coach Dan Herb. 'That's one thing I don't like about home meets - the kids were a little distracted. But we came back strong in the last dual and wrestled a lot tougher.'

On Friday the team traveled to La Grande for the 20-team Muilenberg Invitational, which featured schools from every size classification. Banks took 10th place overall, with three individuals logging top-six performances.

Thompson took second place at 145 pounds, beating Hermiston's Zach Studer, the No. 7 ranked wrestler in Class 5A, before losing in the finals to last year's 3A state runner-up.

'Travis wrestled a good tournament,' Herb said. 'He pinned his way to the finals, so he racked up some team points for us.'

Brown finished third at 220 pounds, losing in the semifinals to Cody Shaffer of La Grande for the second straight week.

'We'll get that La Grande kid before the year is over,' Herb said. 'We wrestled him according to our game plan, but made one small error and it cost us the match. We'll learn from it.'

Kyle Douglas wrestled out of the consolation bracket to finish sixth at 285 pounds.

'Dougy just started wrestling at heavyweight and is really picking it up fast,' Herb said. 'He's going to surprise some people this year.'

Overall, Herb said it was a busy but satisfying week for the Braves on the mat.

'It was a long week for the kids. Most of them got over 10 matches within a week,' he said. 'But I think they had fun over there and they competed well. The tournament is set up a lot like state, so it was good for the kids to get that experience.'