Braves tune up for the Oregon Classic with a dual meet victory against visiting Madras

The Banks wrestling team did just enough to get the result it wanted.

In a dual meet last Thursday between two teams that finished in the top 12 at last year’s Class 4A state meet, the Braves picked up four pins and benefited from several forfeits en route to a 42-30 victory against Madras.

“I thought we wrestled pretty well. We wrestled well where we needed to,” Banks coach Dan Herb said. “Some of these guys are giving up pins. We gotta stay off our back. That’s what win dual meets.

“We lost a couple close ones, but they were battling in there.”

A year ago, Banks was pretty young. With just two seniors, this winter’s team still has quite a bit of youth but also some experience. Of course, that experience starts with reigning state champion Collin Purinton, who kept his undefeated season intact by winning at 120 pounds with a third-round fall against Bryce Vincent.

Bennett Roberts (145 pounds), Clay Kemper (182) and Twister McComas (220) also helped the Braves to victory by picking up first-round pins. Melchiah Mauck (138), Travis Thompson (160) and Allen James (170) added victories by forfeit to round out Banks’ scoring.

The margin of victory could have been higher had two close decisions swung the Braves’ way instead of to the White Buffaloes.

“That’s what we preach,” Herb said. “We want to wrestle a 6-minute match. We were right there at the end, and both those could have gone either way.”

After going down 4-0 in the first period, Trask Epling tied up his 152-pound match against Trevor Parsons with a takedown in the second and a reverse in the third. But Parsons managed to record an escape inside the final minute of the match and held on for a 5-4 win.

A similar scenario played out for Banks freshman Trevor Thiessen at 132 pounds in the first match of the evening. Thiessen’s opponent, Madras junior Jarred Dupont, finished fourth at the Class 4A state meet last year at 120 pounds.

Thiessen wrestled Dupont tough, and the match was tied at 2-all most of the way through. Overtime seemed a distinct possibility until Dupont finally managed an escape inside the final 60 seconds of the third period for a 3-2 win.

In all, it was a solid outing for the talented freshman.

“He’s consistent,” Herb said about Thiessen. “I like what I see from him. You know what you’re going to get every time.”

This weekend, the Braves travel to Redmond for the Oregon Wrestling Classic, an annual invitational that draws many of the top teams in the state and is considered the unofficial dual meet state championship.

Herb anticipated that Purinton might get a rematch at the Classic against Crook County’s Trayton Libolt, whom Purinton defeated in the 106-pound final last year to claim his Class 4A state crown. The event begins Friday with round robin action, and Crook County and Banks are in the same pool, along with Sutherlin and North Marion.

Madras also will be competing in Redmond, and Herb felt that picking up a win against such a quality opponent was useful, given that the Classic was on the radar.

“It’s a good win for us,” Herb noted. “We got beat up a little bit at that tournament last year, so getting a win against them probably gives these guys a little confidence going in.”

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