Wrestling: Canby senior shows heart of a champion
K'den McMullin thought his wrestling career was over.
"I didn't think I was going to be wrestling," said McMullin, who broke his right foot on Oct. 18 playing football against Lakeridge. "I thought it was my senior year and I was done for. I had a lot of lonely nights. All those big tournaments that I look forward to, I couldn't wrestle in."
Along with the break, McMullin had ligament damage that needed surgery. But on Jan. 12 the Canby senior was out of a walking boot.
"I really listened to the doctor," McMullin said. "I did pull-ups, worked on my upper body, did anything I could to stay in shape because my goal after last year was to be on top. It definitely didn't change. I wanted to keep that goal."
After not wrestling his first match until Jan. 23 against Lakeridge, McMullin won the Three Rivers League 138-pound championship Saturday at Canby High School.
"I couldn't make it up any better," McMullin said. "It's still a surreal moment. I ran out (of the gym) after to just gather my thoughts. It's a moment I've been hoping for since last year. I'm glad I was able to do it."
McMullin defeated Lakeridge junior and No. 1 seed Cole Brink in the finals.
"I have the utmost respect for Cole Brink," McMullin said. He's an awesome competitor."
McMullin trailed Brink 4-0 late into the second period before the Canby wrestler was able to turn a cradle into a pin at the 3:47 mark.
"Honestly, I thought he had me for the first and second round," McMullin said. "I caught him and it (the match) can change like that (snap of a finger). It's a really emotional moment today. My coach (Jeremy Ensrud) told me before, just 'let it fly and have fun.' I went for it and it worked out."
Canby senior Logan Doman, the defending 160-pound district champion, finished second at 182.
Doman lost to West Linn junior Cade Miller 5-2 in the finals.
Six more Canby wrestlers placed third in the Three Rivers League to qualify for the state tournament.
Five, Ethan Ensrud (113), Nick Marquez (120), Asher Chaffee (126), Dominic Netter (138) and Brent Patterson (195), are going to state for the first time.
After losing his first match Friday, Ensrud regrouped to win three matches in the consolation bracket.
"I just wasn't ready yesterday," Ensrud said on Saturday. "I came back ready. I knew I was good enough to beat all those guys. I just put my mind to it."
Marquez placed first after not winning a single match at the district tournament last year.
"It's been a long time coming, I think," Marquez said. "I've just been working a lot. My brother and I got a wrestling mat for our garage and we've been training a lot."
Marquez defeated Tigard freshman Cade McCallister in the third-place match.
"He was starting to slide off the top of me and I just reached my arm over and pinned him real quick," Marquez said. "It was the best feeling in the world. I was screaming and flexing all my muscles."
Chaffee just missed qualifying for the state tournament last year after placing fourth in the TRL.
"They announced that other guy's name over the speakers as going to state and it hurt a lot and now to have my name called feels really good," Chaffee said.
Chaffee, the No. 4 seed, pinned Tigard senior Carsen Taylor, the No. 3 seed, in the first period to place third.
"I watched him wrestle the guy I beat in the quarterfinals (Lakeridge junior Ronan Chapman) and I kind of picked up on some things he was doing," Chaffee said. "I'm just so happy. God is good."
Patterson defeated Tualatin sophomore Brandon Chin in overtime to qualify for state.
"I just knew it was all or nothing to go to state," Patterson said. "I just pushed through it."
Boyd is returning to state after qualifying last year as a wildcard. He defeated Tualatin senior Jake Reser 12-8 in the third-place match.
"I knew going out there that he'd want it more," Boyd said of Reser. "He's a senior. He's got to go out. I just pushed the pace and ran my offense."
As a team, Canby finished second behind Three Rivers League champion West Linn. Oregon City placed third.
Of the 28 Cougars that competed in the district tournament, 24 placed.
Landon Sprague (106), Juan Vargas (160) and Levi Goode (182) all finished fourth.
"Our kids wrestled really well and really tough," coach Ensrud said. "I think one year we had like 18 district placers, so this is better than any showing we've ever had."
More photos at derekwiley.smugmug.com.
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