Century, Banks, Glencoe boast winners at state wrestling meet
Some things mean more to people for different reasons.
There were both winners and losers at the OSAA/OnPoint State Wrestling Championships last Saturday night, Feb. 29, at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but for the select few who were able to raise their hand at the end of a grueling two days of competition, the feeling was priceless.
"I feel euphoric," said Century's Nimo Sheikh. "For the last three years I've been getting my butt kicked, so it was nice to be able to win in my senior year."
Sheikh won the girls 105 pound weight division, but wasn't the only Century winner for a Jaguars team that tallied three individual champions in all, along with a second and third. Joining Sheikh at the top of the podium was teammate Tyler Rabang, who took home the title at 120 pounds. Both Rabang and Sheikh were runners-up in years past, making this year's championship that much sweeter.
"I've been working for this for like 10 years," Rabang said. "I just want to thank all the coaches I've had along the way, and of course my family."
On the boys side, the Jaguars' Ernesto Alvarez came up short in his final at 145 pounds, losing to four-time state champion Beau Ohlson of Mountain View. The senior was disappointed in his effort in the final, saying he was a little intimidated by the moment, but in the end was proud of his finish and his journey from start to finish.
"I'm proud of where I began, to where I am now," Alvarez said. "I really want to thank my former coach Guy Takahashi, and all of my coaches here at Century. They've been a big part of my life over the last few years."
Century's Va`atausili Tofaeono finished third in the 220 pound weight division and heavyweight Brody Reese avenged his loss to McMinnville's Jacob Barnes in the Pacific Conference District Championships two weeks ago by pinning the fellow junior just 1:24 into their match.
"I'm so excited, man," Reese said. "This is probably the best day ever."
Reese — who's got plenty of history against Barnes — said the match played out mostly how he'd planned and hoped, but in the end he was mostly interested in talking about how much it meant to him to win a title for his dad, Adam, who formerly coached at Hillsboro and who's now an assistant at Century.
"It means everything to me," he said. "I've been watching this tournament since I was five years old, and it's just crazy."
The junior also won the 285 pound division at the Reser's Tournament of Champions — an event that typically pits the state's best wrestlers — a month prior. "I guess it shows that I'm the best heavyweight in the state."
Sheikh and Rabang weren't the only local champions in the girls division. Glencoe's Olivia Robinson took home the 170 pound title with a narrow 2-1 decision over Madras' Bailey Dennis. Robinson missed last year's tourney due to injury, but made the most of this year's event en route to her first title.
"It feels great," she said with a smile. "State champ doesn't hurt."
Joining her in the finals was Glencoe teammate Elbereth Ragsdale, who placed second after falling to Vale's Tyler Richardson in the 140 pound final.
Newberg won the boys 6A event, tallying 310.5 points, 48 points clear of second place Roseburg (262.5), with Mountain View (209.5), Sprague (176.5) and West Linn (161) rounding out the top-5. Century (91.5) placed seventh, while Forest Grove (28) was 26th, Glencoe (14.5) 33rd and Liberty (14) 34th.
Forest Grove was led by Gavin Rice, who lost a heartbreaker in the 182 pound final. The senior appeared to have his match against Bend's Nathan Denney sewn up, leading 7-4 with just seconds remaining. But in a shocking development, Denney took Rice to the ground, tallied four quick points and won 8-7 as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
Thurston won the girls team competition with 72 points, while Bend (66) was second, Century (49.5) third, Elmira (42) fourth and Glencoe (38) fifth. Forest Grove placed 29th and was paced by sophomore Makaila Takahashi's third place finish at 130 pounds, while Hillsboro finished 14th, led by Ayana Medina's third place finish at 120 pounds.
In the boys 5A event, Crescent Valley took home the first place trophy with 303 points, followed by Crook County (226.5), Thurston (175.5), Crater (141.5) and West Albany (88). Hillsboro placed seventh with 83 points, led by Trevor Schubmehl's second place finish in the 220 pound weight division, Tristan Keffer's third at 126 pounds, Adonai Peraza-Nava's fifth at 152 and Scott Ellis' sixth at 160.
In the 4A event, La Grande won with 261 points, followed by Sweet Home (254.5), Tillamook (142.5), Cascade (101) and Baker/Powder Valley 97, while Banks placed eighth with 76.5.
The Braves were led by J.J. Ellis, who for the third straight year took home the 220 pound championship. The senior dominated his match with La Grande's Spencer Gerst start to finish, and said that he was confident going in despite being a little nervous. But ultimately he calmed down and did what he set out to do minutes after last year's win — get a third.
"It's pretty awesome," he said. "I was ready to wrestle, ready to win, and go out the right way."
Ellis' coach, Dan Herb, said the wrestler was made for these moments.
"He's never really been in a position that's too big for him," Herb said. "Some kids freak out in this environment, but he performs when the lights are on. That match kind of personified his career."
The coach also spoke highly of sophomore Hunter Smith, who despite losing in the 106 pound final, exceeded even his coach's expectations.
"What a great tournament for him," Herb said. "We knew we had a top-6 kid coming in, but making the finals is big for him as a sophomore."
Smith seemed pleased as well.
"I didn't place last year, so I was happy to get this far," he said, despite being disappointed with the loss. "He was a little stronger than I expected, and that caught me off guard, but this will motivate me for the next couple of years."
In addition to Ellis and Smith, Banks got a fifth place finish from Dylan Smith at 113 pounds.
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