McRae taking over family, Skyhawk wrestling mantle
The McRae brothers are forever synonymous with the Southridge wrestling program.
Just take a look at the Skyhawk record book, which is listed inside the Southridge practice room just a few feet outside of the Hawks' home gym.
Matthew (a 2012 graduate) and Joseph ('14) are tied for the most pins (28) in school history. Matthew McRae is tied with Anthony Johnson with 41 career wins, the highest win total in program history. Joseph was a district champion in 2015. Michael McRae, who graduated in 2007, is a district champion and a state placer and Daniel McRae ('08) is a district runner-up. Each brother was a state qualifier.
The McRae boys are the first family of Southridge wrestling, a bloodline that will span over an illustrious, highly decorated decade, could produce close to 200 wins and multiple district titles combined between the five brothers.
Jacob is the latest in the wrestling-rich McRae lineage, the fifth of the six McRae brothers, a 152-pound defending district runner-up, who like his brothers is a team captain for Southridge. Jacob McRae has 23 pins, just five behind his older brothers, and 32 career wins. Their household is wrestling-centric, as one would expect, and supremely competitive but always receptive to the sport.
"If you grow up in a house and your brothers are just decent wrestlers, I feel like you don't have that something pushing you to work extra hard and be a better wrestler," McRae said. "You can be like 'Oh my brothers were decent, I can just be a little bit a better than them.' But my brothers have all been really good wrestlers. I've had to work extra hard and put extra hours in in order to be where I am today."
"The McRae family is the most supportive wrestling family I have ever known," former Southridge head coach Erik Reinholt said. "They were able to understand from the start all of the positive attributes that the sport of wrestling teaches their six boys, aided the coaches in our efforts, and supported each of their sons by being at every meet and tournament."
As the second-to-youngest brother with champion siblings, McRae learned early on in the proverbial school of hard knocks where the family bar is set.
"I feel like my brothers have helped me become the wrestler I am today," McRae said. "They were always roughhousing with me around the house. They put some high standards up. I've had a lot of pressure put on me to do extremely well my senior year. I look up to them and I feel like I owe to them to close out the season by winning districts first and placing at state."
The senior's swan song season in a Southridge singlet began with changes on all fronts. Reinholt, who coached four of the five McRaes through their respective graduations, stepped down over the summer and took a teaching job at Mountainside High. Cam McFarland, Southridge's defensive coordinator on the football team, took over as Southridge head wrestling coach. The addition of Mountainside to the Metro League essentially sliced Southridge's youth base in half, taking most of its freshmen and sophomores over to the new school.
To illustrate Mountainside's effect on Southridge and the Metro as a whole, David McRae, the youngest of the McRaes, will be a Maverick once he moves on to the high school level, as his parents have always lived in the Mountainside boundary. Jacob is the last of the bunch to move through the Skyhawk wrestling pipeline.
As a result, the Skyhawks' lineup is rather scant from meet-to-meet through no fault of their own. For example, Southridge lost to Glencoe 44-33 at home on Jan. 25, but only because it had to forfeit four matches. Wrestling is one of the toughest sports in existence and therefore is one of the hardest to coax potential recruits from the Southridge hallways. Southridge, a team that once battled Aloha and Westview for bragging rights as the Beaverton-area's best program, is at the bottom of the league standings at 0-8.
As a middleweight, McRae used to take his time warming up as he had plenty of pre-match time to get loose and mentally prepare as his teammates battled on the mat. But with so many missing weight classes in the Skyhawk lineup, he's become a table setter, who has to be ready to compete off the bat.
"Right when the national anthem is done I'm running and stretching and getting ready to wrestle," McRae said with a smile. "It's a little different, but I think it's going to help me throughout districts. Those matches go quick and you have to be ready for your match at any moment. It's good to have in your arsenal."
As a team, Southridge's season has been unconventional. But, McRae has been a mainstay through it all, adding to his all-time career win total, improving his skills through dedication, discipline and a diligence to putting in extra reps, be it on the mat or deepening his cardio endurance. Last week, McRae remained undefeated in Metro, beating Glencoe's Devin Schaumburg by a 7-2 decision to run his district record to 8-0. He'll most likely be the 152-pound bracket's first seed at the district tournament, which kicks off Friday and culminates with the title bouts on Saturday night at Southridge High School.
"I'm feeling more confident this year than last year, not because I'm a senior but because I've worked hard this year," McRae said. "I feel like I've put in that extra effort this year compared to last year. I've put my mindset more on wrestling. I'm going after that district championship, definitely. I've been working hard all season and I've had a lot of people in the (wrestling) room, especially (assistant) Coach (Ryan) Baxter help me out."
Aloha 152-pound freshman Jackson Rosado is a familiar foe, an entrant who competes for the Viper Wrestling Club and tested McRae when the two went head-to-head against each other in early December.
"I'm confident I'll see him in the finals," McRae said. "But, I don't take any opponent for granted because you never know what can happen with the end result. You always have to have that extra gear going whether (the opponent) is a freshman or a senior, it doesn't matter. You have to wrestle to your heart's content and treat every opponent, every match like it's a state title."
The upbeat senior remains positive and supportive with his teammates, knowing Southridge is basically battling the district's great programs with one hand behind its back. A few more solid grapplers and the Skyhawks could feasibly be 3-5 or even 4-4. McFarland is a coach, McRae says, who pushes the Skyhawks to be aggressive and give that essential extra effort. Every day in practice McFarland puts his team through three different six-minute matches, so when it comes to tournaments such as districts or the Class 6A state tourney, they'll have the stamina to stay in the middle of taxing competitions. He demands the best from each of his grapplers, something that McRae respects.
"I feel like I've really had to step it up," McRae said. "But I like (McFarland). He pushes us extra hard, makes us do extra hard drilling and conditioning. It's always good to have a different outlook from different coaches. It only improves you as a wrestler overall. We have a pretty young team, a lot of first-years (wrestlers) who are new to the program. But, for the size of our team, I think we've performed extremely well."