Jacheal McMillon, Blake McNall and Kyle Kintz are district finalists

by: JON HOUSE - Gladstone junior Kyle Kintz works for a reversal over Scappooses Alex Foumal in Saturdays semifinals of the 4A Special District 1 Wrestling Championships.Gladstone High School’s wrestling team made a phenomenal showing at last weekend’s Class 4A Special District 1 Regional Wrestling Tournament, qualifying eight wrestlers to next weekend’s state tournament.

“They exceeded my expectations,” said Gladstone coach Michael Hess. “We only had 11 guys [competing at the regional meet]. I thought four would make it for sure. And, if we got six of the 11 guys through, I thought it would be a really good accomplishment. I am amazed by what these kids have done.”

Hess says it’s been a change in mindset that has led to a more competitive Gladstone High School wrestling team.

“We tell the kids, ‘If you believe you can, you can,’ and ‘if you believe you can’t, then you can’t. Work hard and believe, and you can beat anybody.’ They’ve worked hard, and they’re starting to believe.”

The short-in-numbers Gladiators didn’t have any champions in their 10-team special district tournament, but they had three wrestlers in the finals — senior Jacheal McMillon at 120, junior Blake McNall at 126, and junior Kyle Kintz at 132.

McMillon won by major decision over Estacada’s Austin Bloker, pinned North Marion’s Cipriano Vega and won a 9-7 decision over Molalla’s Adam Keller, before losing by fall to Justin Coon of Tillamook in the finals.

McMillon’s pivotal match was his semifinal with Keller. He’d lost to the Molalla standout twice during the season and he was trailing Keller 5-0 early in the semifinal, after getting taken down to his back.

by: JON HOUSE - Gladstone senior Jachael McMillon (120) takes Molallas Adam Keller for a ride en route to a 9-7 decision in Saturdays semifinals of the 4A Special District 1 Regional Wrestling Tournament, held at Gladstone.“Jacheal did a great job sticking to the plan, and battling back,” said Hess.

McNall dropped a tough, tough 1-0 decision to Estacada standout Donald Wenlund in his final, after advancing through a third-round fall over North Marion’s Rodrigo Gonzalez, a technical fall over Astoria’s Jared Lucore, and a 14-8 decision over Banks’ Trevor Thiessen.

“Blake had a really tight match with Wenlund,” said Hess. “He wrestled really well. We’re excited to get him to the state tournament. I don’t think anybody’s going to beat him there.”

Kintz was dominant, before dropping a 4-1 decision to Tillamook’s Logan Weeks in his final at 132. Kintz advanced to the final with wins by technical fall over Tristan Thom of Estacada, by fall over Jordan Hansard of Seaside, and by 10-4 decision over Alex Foumal of Scappoose.

“Weeks is a tough kid and Kyle was in the match pretty much the whole way,” said Hess. “I think that Kyle will be ready to go at state too.”

Other Gladiators qualifying for state included: senior Logan Good (182), third; and freshman Nathan Ward (106), senior Michael Alger (120), and juniors Dijaun Davis (160) and Adam Taylor (170), fourth.

by: JON HOUSE - Gladstone junior Blake McNall works for a pinning combination on Banks Trevor Thiessen en route to a 14-8 district semifinal win at 126.“I’m very pleased,” said Hess. “Extremely happy, after all of the hard work these guys have put in. And I’m excited to see what they’re going to do this coming weekend at state.”

Kintz, Alger and McNall went to state last year, and McNall took sixth place.

Gladstone scored 162-1/2 team points and placed sixth in this year’s Special District Tournament team scoring, finishing back of Scappoose (294), Tillamook (276), North Marion (211-1/2), Estacada (205) and Banks (170-1/2). Astoria (120), Molalla (111), Seaside (46) and Yamhill-Carlton (34) rounded out the team scoring.

It’s an improvement over last year for Gladstone, when the Gladiators scored just 78 points at the special district tournament and advanced only four wrestlers to state.

This year’s state tournament runs Friday and Saturday at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum.

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