West Linn wrestlers step up to grab seventh at state
The West Linn wrestling team was right there with the state's best.
The Lions, competing in the Class 6A state wrestling tournament — held Friday and Saturday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum — battled to a seventh-place finish at state, closing the two-day event with 90 points.
Roseburg won the team title — its 10th in the last 12 years — with 252 points while Newberg was second at 223.5 and Sprague third at 192.
Foremost among West Linn's many accomplishments at state was a second straight state championship by junior Sean Harman, this year taking the title at 160 pounds after winning at 152 in 2017.
Harman won five straight times to claim his crown, opening with a bye, pinning Reynolds' Joseph Mercado in round two, pinning Mitchell Sorte of West Albany in the quarterfinals, then posting a 16-6 major decision over Roseburg's Logan Folsom in his semifinal.
As a returning state champion, Harman had been a marked man all year, but he said that just made him sharper and stronger.
"I don't mind that. I like being the target," he said. "That's what I trained for. That's what comes with the territory."
Those victories sent Harman into the state championship against second-seeded Century senior Josh Grant, a wrestler Harman had beaten 5-2 in the 2017 state semifinals. Harman proved he was ready for his title shot, too, opening with a pair of first-round takedowns that gave him a 4-1 lead, adding two more takedowns in the second to expand his lead to 8-4, then adding an escape and a fifth takedown in the third period to win 11-5.
While Harman controlled the match and held the upper hand throughout, he left nothing to chance in the finale.
"I felt some of the ties start to go his way so I would push out of them and get back to my ties. I think I wrestled him really well in hand fighting," Harman said. "I felt like I controlled the pace very well so I'm really proud of how I wrestled. I wish I could have put more points up, but I'm really proud of how I wrestled."
Harman's win was special for other reasons, too. With his victory, he became West Linn's first two-time state champion and closed his season with an unbeaten record of 44-0.
"Last year was pretty special because it was my first (championship), but this year was a record year for me," Harman said. "I've never been undefeated. It's really cool."
His victory also made him the winningest wrestler in his family, surpassing his older brother Tim, who won a Class 6A state championship at 145 in 2014. Despite that, Sean Harman had nothing but praise and gratitude for his older brother and family support.
"It was especially cool with my dad in the corner and my brother coming up (to watch)," Sean Harman said. "Without (his brother), I'm not the wrestler I am. I'm not the person I am today. This is just as much his title as mine. I know he's super proud of me and I'm super thankful for him putting my head through the wall when I was little, just toughening me up."
Bell, Brunson finish strong
While Sean Harman was the biggest success story at state for West Linn, he wasn't the only one.
Senior Brett Bell came through to finish third at 182, opening with three straight wins before dropping a 9-1 major decision to second-seeded Brandon Jeffers of Roseburg — the eventual state champion — in his semifinal.
Despite that loss, the third-seeded Bell rallied to beat Sherwood's Rustin Williams 4-1 in the consolation quarterfinals, then came back to pin South Medford's Ryan Beck at 1:26 of their match to finish third.
Freshman Cael Brunson made a name for himself, too. Brunson, already a Three Rivers League district champion at 138, wrestled his way into the semifinals at state, but dropped a tough 3-2 decision there to Sawyer Myres of West Albany, the second seed and eventual 6A runner-up.
Brunson, the third seed, beat Roseburg's Archer Bergeron 5-2 in his consolation semifinal, but dropped an 8-1 decision to Lakeridge junior Quinn Brink in the third-place match.
"I was so close. That first match I lost, I think I only lost by one point so I gave him a shot," Brunson said. "I think he was more prepared than I was, but I still think it was a good showing for a freshman."
Brunson, who hoped to kick off a run of four straight state championships this year, said he learned a lot that would benefit him in years to come.
"These next three years are going to be mine, I already know it," Brunson said. "The guys who got first and second, they're both graduating next year. Next year is my year, and the year after that and the years after that, too. This year was just kind of like the training wheels of a bicycle."
The Lions very likely would have finished even higher in the team standings if not for an injury to senior 170-pounder Taran Floyd. Floyd, the TRL district champ and 2017 state runner-up at 160, was top-seeded this season and won his first two rounds at state.
But Floyd injured a knee (torn meniscus) in his quarterfinal match against McKay's eighth-seeded David Rubio — the eventual state champion — and could not continue. He lost the quarterfinal by injury default and then forfeited his next match in consolation.
The Lions' other state qualifiers were: senior Steven Shelofsky at 170 — he lost in the fifth round of consolation and did not place; senior Tyler Good at 195 — he lost in the fourth round of consolation and did not place; and junior Kaden Goff at 113 — he lost in the fourth round of consolation and did not place.