The Laker wrestler becomes the schools first state champion in the sport in 37 years

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Lake Oswego's Austin Faunce celebrates his victory in the 220-pound title match at last week's state wrestling meet.Lake Oswego's wrestling program crowned its first state champion since 1976 last weekend. 220-pounder Austin Faunce lived up to his No. 1 ranking heading into the tournament, winning four straight matches to cap his career as a Laker with an individual state title.

Faunce, who will wrestle for the Naval Academy next year, had been preparing for this state tournament for a long time and when his opportunity presented itself, he didn't disappoint.

The Lake Oswego senior displayed a little bit of everything at the Memorial Coliseum, showcasing his brute strength and then his patience and mental toughness to seal the championship.

“I really had to learn to be patient this year and stick to the game plan,” Faunce said.

Faunce won his first match with a pin in just 37 seconds.

He then took a little less than a minute longer to dispatch of his second-round opponent, walking away with another first-round pin.

In the semifinals, Faunce took on Willy Spears from Sheldon, the No. 4 seed in the bracket.

Spears played defensively in the match and avoided getting pinned but Faunce was in control from the onset of the match, grinding out a 7-2 win to make it to the finals.

In the championship match, Faunce took on a familiar opponent in Oregon City senior Michael McCoy.

The pair had wrestled three times previously this year and, while Faunce had won all three matches, including the most recent one in the finals of the regional meet, McCoy proved to be a frustrating opponent.

McCoy approached the title match with extreme caution, not allowing Faunce to make a quick move that would result in a potential match-ending mistake.

The pair grappled to a 0-0 tie after the first round and, early in the second round, Faunce strategically let McCoy up for an escape, giving the Oregon City wrestler a 1-0 lead.

Faunce then got aggressive late in the round and came up with a crucial takedown to seize the lead. McCoy would battle for another escape to keep the match tied at 2-2 with one round to go.

“I knew I just needed that one takedown and then just had to keep from making any mistakes,” Faunce said.

Faunce opened the third round in the down position and McCoy knew it wasn't worth the lost time and energy to try and keep him on the mat so he let Faunce up for an escape, giving him a 3-2 lead.

Faunce stayed aggressive on his feet and remained technically sound, not giving McCoy any chance to steal a late takedown for the win and he held on for the narrow decision.

Junior Cahleb Gonzales also got on the podium for Lake Oswego. At 113 pounds, Gonzales won his opening match with a first-round fall and then went up against the No. 3 seed Kaleb Raber from Sprague.

Gonzales gave Raber a terrific match but ultimately lost 4-1. Raber would go on to win the state title.

In consolation, Gonzales took on teammate Brian Fay in his first match. Fay fell in his opening match but moved into a consolation showdown with Gonzales by winning his first consolation match with a second-round pin.

Gonzales put Fay away 10-1 and then took down Toby Dill from Roseburg 5-2 to assure himself a spot on the podium.

Gonzales then lost to the No. 1 seed in the bracket but rallied for an impressive 12-2 win in the fifth place match.

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