Wrestling: Gervais' Zepeda makes history with third-place finish at state
Alexys Zepeda may have made Oregon state wrestling history on Saturday, but she wanted more.
The Gervais freshman defeated Riverside sophomore Abraham Silva by 3-2 decision on Saturday to place third in the 3A 113-pound state championship. In doing so, Zepeda become the highest-placing girl in Oregon history at the boys state wrestling tournament.
But for a wrestler who had state title aspirations heading into the weekend, the third-place finish gives Zepeda plenty of fuel to motivate her between now and next year's tournament.
"I was hoping to go to the championship, placing first or second," Zepeda said. "That was my goal, but it's ok."
Zepeda came within one match of accomplishing her goal, cruising to the semifinals after a successful first day in which she needed just 19 seconds to pin Cheyenne Tobin of La Pine in the opening match and dominated Silva in a 13-3 major decision in the quarterfinals.
But Zepeda drew the No. 4-seed heading into the state tournament, the lowest of the four district champions, putting her on a collision course with top-seeded Gabe Vidlak of Cascade Christian, who finished third overall in last year's state bracket.
"Yeah, I definitely didn't like the seeding entering the tournament, but it's fine," Zepeda said.
Vidlak carried an undefeated record into the tournament and beat Zepeda by 6-0 decision. But after the match, Zepeda felt that the loss was less about what Vidlak did on the mat and more about what she didn't do.
"It's not really what about him, it's my little mistakes," she said. "That's what got me into trouble. I was on the leg and he was in a bad position. All I had to do was turn around I would have gotten a takedown."
It was the only loss Zepeda would experience over the weekend, dropping her down to the consolation side of the bracket against No. 2 Moses Mercier of Willamina, who was upset by Jefferson's Rene Flores in the quarterfinals.
Zepeda took down Mercier by 5-3 sudden victory to advance to the third-place match against Silva, where she won by a much narrowly margin in the rematch, a result she attributes to adjustments Silva made after their first match.
She is one of just two girls in Oregon history to place in the boys wrestling bracket, joining Waldport's Misty Corwin, who placed fifth in the 2A/1A 103-pound state tournament in 2006.
On the other side of the bracket, Flores advanced to the finals against Vidlak, who won by 8-3 decision to put the cap on an undefeated season. But with Zepeda owning a 2-0 record against Flores on the season, including a 10-5 victory over him in the district championship two weeks earlier, it provides that much more motivation for Zepeda to immediately begin her quest for a sophomore state title as soon as possible.
"We're thinking about going to Oklahoma next month," Zepeda said. "Gotta get ready for that."