Wrestling: Molalla's Max Tate looking to make statement after stellar freshman season
Despite achieving an incredible feat of taking second place at the 2017 OSAA Wrestling State Championships as a freshman, Molalla's Maximus Tate wasn't happy with the way his first high school season ended.
Tate boasted a 23-8 overall record in his freshman season at Molalla High School, ultimately falling in the championship match at state to a wrestler that Tate says he knows he can beat.
"I'm kind of just moving on from it," Tate said when asked if he thinks about that match. "I messed up and I did not wrestle that how I should have … [coming into this season] I knew I needed to work on my bottom game, because I got taken down and was not doing [well], and that's how I got pinned in the finals."
Tate began wrestling with the Molalla Ju Ju Warriors in the fourth grade, and then started wrestling with All-Phase in the sixth grade, where he has competed since along with the high school program. He said his favorite thing about the sport is "getting to beat people up," on the mat, of course.
As the Regional Tournament approaches this weekend with Molalla playing host, Tate possesses a 27-1 record with no intention of slowing down, despite a slight knee injury that has forced him to back off a bit during practice time. His only loss was against Centennial's Phillip Kue at the Don York Invitational at Cleveland High School on Jan. 6. Kue was Tate's wrestling partner at Cobra Wrestling Systems, a wrestling program based out of Happy Valley, Oregon.
"I definitely want to win regionals, and then I want to win state, obviously, but I have to be a little careful because I'm kind of debating what weight I want to go to," he said. "I think as long as I wrestle at the right weight, I should be fine."
Tate said he's deciding between the 120-pound and 126-pound weight class, and that he would rather go to 126. He said his decision will likely depend on which weight class an All-Phase teammate and North Marion High School competes in, as there's a strong likelihood he and Tate would meet each other in the finals.
Tate said he thinks the strongest part of his game is his speed and agility, and that if he can continue to hone that aspect, he will have a strong chance of success in higher weight classes moving forward.
And though many wrestlers are fairly methodical when it comes to their preparation and pre-match routines, Tate is relatively easygoing; he usually just wrestles around with a partner on the side, but his dad does always stretch out his arms before every match, which has been a tradition for the past four years.
Tate's aspirations to wrestle at the next level were accelerated when he received a letter of interest from Stanford University at the beginning of the season.
"It was exciting … I think they saw what happened last year and then with my academics, together they kind of make me valuable," Tate said. As would be expected, Stanford is at the top of Tate's list at this point, but as he's only a sophomore, he has time to decide what he wants to do and where he wants to go; if he keeps wrestling the way he has been, he'll have his choice from almost any program he can think of.
When asked what keeps him motivated, Tate almost seemed puzzled by the question. And after seeing his reaction, it's clear that the only thing on Tate's mind is winning. He doesn't see competing and being the best as something he wants, but something he needs.
"I have to do better than I did last year, I have to improve," Tate said. "[Taking second as a freshman] was cool, but I really wanted to win."
The Regional Tournament will be at Molalla High School this Friday and Saturday as teams from Astoria, Crook County, Gladstone, and Tillamook will make their way to town looking to earn their way to the State Championship Tournament on Feb. 16-17 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The top four wrestlers from each weight class from Special Districts 1 and 3 will qualify for state, along with the top three wrestlers from each weight class from Special District 4. Additionally, a fifth qualifier is rotated between Special Districts 1, 2, and 3 annually, with 2018 going to Special District 2.
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