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Bateman continues his state title quest

Three pins led the Sandy senior into the finals last year


by: THE POST: PARKER LEE - Sandy senior Kyle Bateman turns an opponent during his run to the district title last weekend. He is the No. 1 seed at 170 pounds heading into the 5A state tournament.

Winning a state championship is the dream of every high school wrestler who straps on the headgear. Most kids never actually do it, and many never come close.

Sandy’s Kyle Bateman could almost taste that glorious accomplishment last year when it was ripped away. After winning his first three matches of the state tournament by fall, Bateman drew Lebanon’s Garrett Urrutia in the 160-pound championship.

In the title bout, the two battled all the way to the final buzzer. Bateman, then a junior, left on the losing end of a narrow, 9-5 decision.

To come that close, only to fall just short, would discourage and anger most wrestlers. Bateman is not most wrestlers.

“It was actually really fun,” Bateman said. “Being in the finals was great, but it showed me that I had to work harder.”

Bateman saw the championship defeat as a learning opportunity, which has been his approach for his whole high school career. As sophomore, Bateman advanced to the state quarterfinals of the 152-pound division. He used that experience as a chance to improve, which ultimately got him to the championship as a junior.

Every year, Bateman has taken a step forward and has advanced a little farther in the bracket. Now a senior, Bateman has one more shot to take that last step of winning the state championship.

“He absolutely has a shot,” Sandy coach Robert Paul said. “His experience is really going to help him and he is definitely one of the favorites.”

The path to the top of the podium will not be a walk in the park.

Bateman sailed by his competition during the Northwest Oregon Conference regular season and he won the 170-pound district title. He was named district upper division (152-285 pounds) wrestler of the year for his success. Bateman’s journey through district was a breeze, but the state tournament will be like a hurricane in comparison. The 170-pound bracket is loaded with talent and Bateman will have a target on his back.

That added pressure only invigorates Bateman. He has been on everyone’s radar all season, and he has thrived. Bateman is ecstatic for this final meet to have a chance to end his career at Sandy as a champion.

“Last year, it was hard losing. What helped me was knowing I had my senior year to get back. Have one more chance,” Bateman said. “I’m really excited for it and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”