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Hunter Dehlin finishes second at 152 pounds, and two teammates also place at the state meet

PORTLAND — Liberty certainly experienced last week’s Class 5A wrestling state tournament in all the glory of its highs and lows.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Liberty senior Hunter Dehlin hugs his father, Jeff, after winning a 152-pound semifinal match at the Class 5A state tournament on Saturday.

Among the many upsides at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, three of the five Falcons who competed — Ethan Wendell, Angel Rodriguez and Hunter Dehlin — earned their way onto the medal stand. Among the challenges, qualifier Michael Feltman was unable to compete due to injury, and Dehlin suffered a heartbreaking loss in the 152-pound final.

When it was all said and done, Liberty scored 38 points, which landed the team in 19th place. With 174 points, Hermiston picked up its seventh team crown in eight seasons. Dallas (145.5), Lebanon (134) and Eagle Point (111.5) rounded out the list of team trophy-winners.

“We really had some tough trials and tribulations down the end,” Liberty head coach Eric Givens said. “Hunter’s been up and down all season. He won two double overtimes and one single overtime to get into the state finals. That’s pretty tough. Ethan is our first freshman to ever be a state placer. Angel, in his first year wrestling, placed at state. He beat two guys that he hadn’t beaten before. That’s impressive.”

Even though his senior season ended with a 5-2 loss to KiAnte Davis of Lebanon, Dehlin capped what Givens described as “a roller coaster season” and created some school history by recording the best state finish ever by a Liberty wrestler.

And he certainly earned it, perhaps aging his coaches a few extra years in the process. Dehlin entered the competition as the No. 1 seed at 152 pounds, but he still needed extra time in his first three matches to advance. Last Friday, in the first round, he squeaked by Springfield’s Sebastian Lopez 3-1 in overtime before picking up a 3-2 overtime win against Pendleton’s Alex Ferder in the quarterfinals.

That earned him a rematch on Saturday against Sandy’s C.J. McKinnis, whom Hunter had defeated the week prior en route to a Special District 1 regional title. This time around, McKinnis led late in the third round, but Dehlin evened the score at 3-all in regulation and then triumphed 5-3 in overtime, guaranteeing him the best state placement in program history.

But his luck finally ran out against Davis. After the Warriors senior got on the board first with a double-leg takedown, Dehlin trailed most of the championship match and could not find a way to pull back even. He finished the season with a 27-9 record.

“It’s tough, because he had one five-second mistake in the state finals, and he ended up chasing a very, very, very worthy opponent that whole time after that,” Givens said. “(The) 152 (class) was loaded with tough, tough competition, and he had to do that the whole two days, and he made one mistake.”

Wendell also put his stamp on the program, finishing fourth for that first-ever state medal by a Falcons freshman. Competing at 106 pounds, Wendell scored a first-round pin of Woodburn’s Michel Vazquez before dropping an 8-5 decision to Hermiston’s Liam Tarvin, the eventual state champion.

Wendell then proceeded to rattle off three consecutive victories — including one against No. 2 seed Zack Howe of Mountain View — in the consolation bracket before losing 6-0 to No. 1 Cody Bibler of Dallas in the third-place match.

Like Wendell, Rodriguez was in his first year of wrestling for Liberty, but he is a junior. Rodriguez earned a sixth-place finish to land the final spot on the awards podium at 285 pounds.

That came after Rodriguez lost his first round match 2-1 to Hermiston’s Armando Garcia on a tie-breaker. But he picked up three consolation round wins before losing twice more, to P.J. Schubert of Pendleton and Robert Powers of Wilson, to wrap up his first state tournament with a medal.

Jordan Grenfell (160) and Devin Thompson (182) also represented Liberty at the state tournament. Feltman, a senior who qualified at 145 pounds, was unable to compete after recently sustaining a concussion.

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