Sandy wins four weight classes at the 16-team event
As wrestlers, coaches and onlookers bustled around the gymnasium at Sandy High on Saturday, some desperately seeking a place to sit down for a few minutes, one chair remained unoccupied. Centered between the four mats where the Carey Larson Memorial Tournament was unfolding sat a folding chair displaying the words Reserved for Coach Paul.
Robert Paul, former Sandy coach who died last month, would have been proud of what he saw.
With the passing of their coach still very fresh in their minds, the Pioneers won the 16-team tournament going away.
I was pretty nervous, but knowing we have Coach Paul with us, I think it really helped, Sandy wrestler Dakota Peterson said. We knew he would help us throughout the day.
Four Sandy wrestlers won their respective brackets, and 11 finished fourth or better. Kyle Grahn was the first Pioneer to secure a first-place finish in the 120-pound division. As the top seed in his bracket, Grahn was awarded a first-round bye and only had to win two matches to claim the title. He prevailed in his semifinal match by pinning Libertys Gage Vanderhoff with 25 seconds remaining in the second round. In the championship, Grahn defeated Silvertons Austin Reed in a 5-1 decision.
The Pioneers dominated the middle weights as they produced champions at 152, 160 and 170 pounds. Garrett Rotzien (152 pounds) won by fall in his first two matches to advance to the championship against Newbergs Matt McCarthy. Rotzien and McCarthy battled for three rounds, and each had times when it looked like they might get a pin, but the match went the distance, and Rotzien escaped with a 3-1 decision.
C.J. McKinnis was never challenged in the 160-pound weight class as he won all three of his matches by fall in 4:30 or less.
At 170 pounds, Spencer Barnett cruised to the title. He only needed 47 seconds to pin his first-round opponent, then won his second match by fall with one second left in the final round. In his championship matchup, Barnett pinned Silvertons David Horsey in less than a minute.
Edin Zepeda nearly claimed a fifth individual title for Sandy in the 106-pound division as he went toe-to-toe with Newbergs Aerie Baxter in the first-place match. Zepeda fell behind, but scrambled to make up the difference late in the third round. He came up just short and dropped a 4-3 decision.
Jeremy Funk also settled for second as he fell in a 5-0 decision in the first-place match after winning his first three matches convincingly.
Donavan Morrell suffered a disappointing defeat to Libertys Ethan Wendell in the opening round of the 113-pound bracket, but he got a shot at revenge when the two met up in the third-place match. Morrell got the better of Wendell in the rematch to take third.
Morrells older brother Jonathan (132 pounds) likewise left with a third-place finish. He lost to Silvertons Jacob Brundridge in the semifinals, but responded with a quick pin in the consolation contest. Devin White matched the Morrell brothers with a third-place finish of his own at 182 pounds.
Peterson had a nice tournament as he went 3-1, earning each of his wins by fall, to secure third place. His loss came to Estacadas Donny Wenlund who went on to win the division and is 17-0 so far this season.
Blane Hays (145 pounds) came away with fourth place, but his first match of the day proved to be one of the most entertaining contests of the tournament. He and Silvertons Caman Goin jockeyed back and forth for the advantage for the full six minutes, but neither could maintain a lead for long. The two were knotted up 7-7 with time about to expire. With three seconds left before overtime, Hays slipped out of a hold to earn two escape points, and the win.
Steven Patton (138 pounds) and Dalton Davis (285 pounds) joined Hays with fourth-place honors. As a team, Sandy finished with 243 points to beat out second-place Newberg by 65 points. Tualitan left as second runner-up, 111 points behind Sandy.