Banks junior Collin Purinton loses to rival Trayton Libolt in the 113-pound state final

NEWS-TIMES: AMANDA MILES - Banks junior Collin Purinton wrestles against Crook County's Trayton Libolt in the 113-pound state final on Saturday. Libolt won 4-3 and avenged a loss to Purinton in last year's finals.PORTLAND — One point.

In the end, that was the only difference between Banks junior Colin Purinton and Crook County’s Trayton Libolt at the Class 4A wrestling state tournament last weekend.

But that one small difference Saturday made all the difference in the end, as Libolt held the deciding tally against Purinton in the 113-pound final — a 4-3 decision in the Cowboy’s favor — meaning that Purinton had to settle for second place rather than a second consecutive state title at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Even with the defeat, Purinton ended a wildly successful junior season with a 40-2 record — his only two losses of the winter coming at the hands of Libolt. Also a junior, Libolt topped Purinton 5-4 at the Oregon Wrestling Classic in Redmond in January.

“I feel like I did really well,” Purinton said about his state performance. “I feel like me and Trayton, we just were so much more separated apart from them, because me and him, we pretty much tech falled and pinned everybody else.”

Saturday’s championship match continued a rivalry that began at state two years ago when both boys were freshmen — Libolt won that one, a 106-pound state quarterfinal, 8-7.

Continuing the theme and turning the tables a year later, Purinton prevailed 6-5 in last year’s 106-pound state final.

Purinton’s runner-up finish led Banks to 18th place in the team standings with 41.5 points. An absolute juggernaut, Crook County of Prineville won its second consecutive title with a whopping 405.5 points — more than the other three trophy teams NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES
NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Banks junior Collin Purinton walks off the mat while a coach from Crook County celebrates Trayton Libolt's 4-3 victory over Purinton in the 113-pound state final on Saturday.

This time around, as Purinton mentioned, neither he nor Libolt suffered much trouble in runs to the 113 final. Purinton recorded a first-round pin against Henley junior Trevon Kuhlman before winning by technical fall against Crook County’s Johnny Avina in the quarterfinals. And on Saturday morning, he tuned up for the final by pinning No. 3 seed Joe Britt, also of Henley.

Libolt, meanwhile, recorded falls in all of his first three rounds to set up the title showdown. In the final, Purinton took most of the shots, but Libolt held the lead for most of the match, scoring a takedown and two escapes. Purinton earned a takedown and an escape, leaving him just shy of a repeat.

“I feel like I was more pushing the pace, taking shots and everything,” Purinton said. “He was defensive scoring, kind of. So I’d be working something and then he’d kind of counter it to get the points.”

Herb held a similar assessment of the final.

“It was a frustrating match from our standpoint. We did a lot of work,” Herb said. “I was going back and counting: We took about 22 shots, and the other kid took one, so he wrestled real defensively. We outworked him in the match, I thought, just sometimes the score doesn’t always reflect that.

“Trayton’s a good wrestler. He’s tough.”

Undeterred, Purinton already was back in the mat room Sunday, Herb said. The junior has plans to compete in a couple of out-of-state tournaments over the next few months.

Purinton’s classmate Travis Thompson also placed for the Braves at state, adding a fifth-place finish at 160 pounds.

Thompson cruised into the semifinal round with two pins but then ran into No. 3 Brendan Harkey of Crook County, who prevailed in a 12-5 decision. Thompson then lost to Scappoose’s Johnathan Tardif to land in the fifth-place contest, which he won by pinning Taft’s Seth Steere in the second period.

“He really kind of composed himself after those two defeats and wrestled real well in his fifth- and sixth-place match,” Herb noted.

Clay Kemper (170), Evan King (195), Twister McComas (220) and James Cook (285) also represented Banks at the state tournament.

Given that all six wrestlers are eligible to return next year, the meet provided a foundational experience for the Braves to build upon.

“Overall, it was a good year,” Herb said. “We were proud of them. They handled themselves well. It was an easy group to coach.”

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