Pendleton trip proves worthwhile for Madras wrestling team
Christmas break presents a challenging time for high school wrestlers to maintain their fitness level.
Time off from school and daily practices, combined with the temptation to eat hefty portions of holiday food, can sidetrack a program's progress. But the ones who put in the work are often rewarded.
That proved to be true for the Madras wrestling team, which made its longest road trip to date at the Rollin Schimmel Memorial Tournament in Pendleton Dec. 29-30.
At 195, Harrison Manu led the White Buffalos to a first-place finish, winning all four of his matches by fall. At 152, Tyrell Reynoso placed second and Rope Reese took fifth, though only Reynoso's 24 points counted toward the team score. Thomas LeClaire (170) placed fourth and Catalino LeClaire (160) placed fifth to round out Madras' 78 team points, which ranked ninth out of 11 teams.
Although head coach Cameron Mitchem felt the Buffs came out flat on Friday night for the duals portion of the tournament, when the brackets came out Saturday morning, they were ready to go.
Perhaps more than anyone else on the team, Reynoso's ongoing effort this season paid off in a big way.
He was downright dominant through his first three matches, all of which ended by fall in the first round. In the finals, he ran up against Pendleton's Brendon Bedolla, who ultimately won a 7-2 decision. But Reynoso was able to rebound from an early mistake and score a late takedown.
"He works his tail off. It's good for him to finally see the rewards for the hard work he's put in," Mitchem said.
Manu, meanwhile, won his second tournament of the season, and in doing so, suggested that his knee injury suffered during football season isn't hindering him on the mat. He wrestled a couple state qualifiers in his bracket, including Mac-Hi's Joshua Torres in the finals. Manu pinned Torres in 5 minutes, 8 seconds.
"He had people attack it and try to tweak it into things, (but) don't poke the bear," Mitchem said. "That's really all it does. He's dealt with it, it might give him a little bit of pain, but he realizes it doesn't affect him. Then he just gets mad."
Mitchem also lauded Thomas LeClaire's day, which included going toe to toe with Clay Keller, a defending 4A state champ from Baker High.
Reese, after missing the last two tournaments, was a mere point away from beating Baker's Alejandro Davila, who won an 11-10 decision in their quarterfinals match. Still, he rattled off three wins afterward to take fifth.
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