Hermiston runs away from the field to reclaim 5A crown from Dallas

by: THE POST: PARKER LEE - Sandys Brandon Mowery goes up against Hermistons Beau Gleed during the Saturday morning semifinals.

The Sandy Pioneers thought overtaking Hermiston in the 5A state wrestling tournament would be next to impossible. It turns out, they were right.

Hermiston routed the 5A field by tallying 246 team points, 64.5 points ahead of second-place Dallas. Sandy placed fourth with 96 points.

“Even if every one of our wrestlers did their very best, I don’t know if we could have done anything to catch those top two schools,” Sandy coach Robert Paul said. “As a team, we are hoping to bring home a trophy, and we did that.”

Sandy’s showing at the tournament was highlighted by senior Kyle Bateman’s state championship in the 170-pound division. Bateman was the lone Pioneer to win an individual title, but a few of his teammates did make the podium.

Senior Tyler White, seeded second in the 152-pound weight class, was upset in the second round by Lebanon’s Tamen Privratsky in a 7-6 decision. White fought his way back through the consolation bracket and got his revenge in the fifth-place match with a 3-1 win over Privratsky.

At 182 pounds, junior Jeremy Funk won his first two matches to advance to the semifinals where he fell to top-seeded Quinn Dreher from Silverton. Funk went on to place fourth.

Senior Brandon Mowery believed he had a legitimate shot to win the 132-pound bracket, and he cruised past his first two opponents. Unfortunately for Mowery, he drew Hermiston’s Beau Gleed in the semifinals.

“He is really, really good.” Mowery said. “He took state last year and he has been wrestling since he was like two years old. He is tough.”

Gleed beat Mowery 9-2 on en route to claiming the state championship. Mowery won his two consolation matches to earn a third-place finish.

“I’m not too happy about how things went,” Mowery said. “I was hoping for first, and I thought I could get it, but third will have to be good enough.”

The handful of upperclassmen who did place led to Sandy’s respectable overall showing. However, the Pioneers’ youth as a whole was exposed, especially on the first day of the tournament. In the lower weight divisions, a few Sandy wrestlers had victory in sight, only to have it slip away in the waning moments.

In the 106-pound division, Sandy freshman Donavan Morrell endured one of the most heartbreaking losses of the tournament. Morrell and Willamette’s Austin Reed battled even for the first two rounds, but Morrell gained the upper hand in Round 3. Morrell used an escape and a takedown to take a 9-6 lead and had what seemed to be a solid hold on Reed as time was running low.

But Reed made one swift, fluid maneuver that completely turned the tables.

With just six seconds left, Reed spun behind Morrell and took him to his back. Reed was awarded two reversal points and two near-fall points to take a 10-9 lead as time expired.

“Chalk it up to being a freshman,” Paul said. “That was a move he hasn’t seen before. He is a fast learner and he will not make that mistake in the future. He bounced back well and had a nice weekend.”

Another Sandy freshman, Richie Rich, suffered a devastating defeat of his own in the 113-pound division.

Just one week after being air-lifted to the hospital for an injury sustained in the district meet, Rich stepped back on the mat like nothing had ever happened. Rich went back-and-forth with Woodburn’s Temoatzin Lopez for all three rounds. After trading leads, Rich and Lopez were knotted 5-5 at the end of six minutes. About halfway into the overtime period, Rich and Lopez wrestled each other to the ground and both nearly got the initial takedown. The two struggled on the mat for a few minutes before Lopez slipped on top to earn the takedown and the 7-5 win.

“It is so important to get kids to the state tournament when they are young,” Paul said. “The experience is what it’s all about. Being at the Coliseum, it’s a little intimidating for first-time visitors. The sooner you can get kids there, the better.”

Paul said those losses are tough for the younger wrestlers to swallow, but the sting will eventually subside and the program at Sandy will be better for it.

“It has been 30 years since Sandy placed this high,” Paul said. “Twelve of the wrestlers we took to state will be back for us next year, so I’m really happy about that.”

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