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Braves qualify eight for state

Banks wrestlers turn in a strong effort at their regional tourney in Prineville


What better way to warm up for the Class 4A wrestling state tournament than by competing at one of the toughest regionals in Oregon?PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN
 - Banks senior Twister McComas (right) wrestles against Andrew Poplin of Astoria in the 285-pound final at Saturday's regional tournament.

That was the scenario for the Banks wrestling team last weekend, facing a stacked field at the Special District 1 regional tournament at Crook County High School in Prineville.

With 11 teams competing and only the top four wrestlers from each weight class advancing to state, Banks head coach Dan Herb acknowledged last week that he could envision his squad qualifying as many as nine or as few as three wrestlers for this weekend’s upcoming state tournament.

When the dust settled, Herb’s prediction was closer to the high end, with eight Banks wrestlers turning in top-four performances, including senior Twister McComas, who brought home a regional title at 285 pounds.

“It was good. The kids wrestled hard,” Herb said. “As tough as our region is, I think it helps them stay a little more focused because we see some state placers and a lot of tough kids. We know that anybody we see at regionals is going to be tough.”

McComas had a monster weekend, pinning all three of his opponents, including Astoria’s Andrew Poplin in the final. The Banks senior improved to 28-6 on the season and will be the No. 1 seed at 285 pounds when the 4A state tournament kicks off on Friday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.

“It was good to see him win that,” Herb said. “He’s wrestling pretty well right now. He’s the No. 1 seed (at state) but he’s still got to show up and wrestle.”

Banks also had a pair of regional runners-up in Trask Epling and Clay Pena.

Epling took second at 170 pounds, losing by fall to Tillamook’s Christian Mata in the final. Pena finished second at 195 after losing to Crook County’s Carson Raymond.

Trevor Thiessen, a returning state placer from a year ago, finished third in a tough 145-pound bracket. Thiessen dropped an 11-4 decision to Trey Shores of Crook County in the semifinal, but rebounded to beat Estacada’s Justin Drury in the third-place match.

Banks’ other state qualifiers were Max Merritt (third, 195 pounds), James Cook (third, 285), Melchiah Mauck (fourth, 160) and Brendan Dreyer (fourth, 170).

The state tournament begins on Friday and concludes Saturday with championship semifinals at 10:15 a.m. and finals at 6:30 p.m.