Dennis wins state; Torres falls short of goal
The Madras wrestling program sent six wrestlers to state and produced one state champion in Bailey Dennis and a third-place finisher in Victor Torres.
The three time All-American, two-time state champ and one-time national champ, Dennis (190) found her way to the top of the podium once again. Only this time, she did it as a White Buffalo.
A Ridgeview transfer, Dennis won her first match over Hadley Massey, of 6A Newberg, in a 5-2 decision and since it was a four-person bracket, Dennis reached the finals.
She faced 5A Milwaukie wrestler, Fiona McConnell, in the championship match and had a small lead going into the final period. In the third period, she was able to get a reversal and near fall to earn a 5-1 decision victory. The junior claimed her third state title and is looking to win nationals, in Oklahoma, March 19.
"I did not perform to the best of my abilities," Dennis said. "I definitely could have done better. I was just super nervous out there and I haven't wrestled girls all year, so it was a little weird. I had to change my style from strictly technique, to now being able to use some muscle. Those are completely different."
"I was so nervous before my finals match," she said. "I was shaking and my old coach from Ridgeview calmed me down a bit. I wasn't sure I could have even competed. I was close to having my head in a trash can out there."
"This is amazing and all I could wish for is a fourth now," she said. "I leave for nationals soon and I will be traveling to all different schools, and club teams, working out and staying in shape."
The former Culver state champion and most recent Madras district state champion Victor Torres fell just short of his hope of becoming a Madras state champ.
Torres had to face a lot of adversity coming into the state tournament as he was in a car accident a week prior and was extremely limited in any practice.
Torres (152) won his first match by fall in 1:44, but lost a very close 5-3 decision to Boe Baxter, of Sweet Home, in his next match. Baxter ended up making it to the finals and losing a 9-5 decision, placing second.
Torres pinned his next two challengers in under two minutes and won his consolation semifinals match in a 9-4 decision. He wrestled Tanner Gibson, of Junction City, for third place and won a 15-4 majority decision, placing third for the White Buffalos.
"It was a good tournament, with a tough second match right off the bat," Torres said. "It was close, but just didn't go my way. Sometimes you just have to take what you get and know you tried your hardest, wrestled your heart out and if the outcome isn't yours, just keep wrestling and get the second best outcome. That is what I had to do. Grind it out and go for third."
"It has been good here in Madras," he said. "It was different, of course, different atmosphere, but the program is getting better and better. Last year, they took a couple kids to state and this year, we took six and could have had a lot more. It is going to keep improving as long as the kids keep coming out and building tradition."
"Victor (Torres) finished third and if we shuffled those top four wrestlers again, who knows, those wrestlers would all reshuffle," head coach Cameron Mitchem said. "He didn't get as much wrestling or fine tune things like we wish we could have, but overall, a good performance for him."
Torres signed a letter of intent at Southern Oregon University to wrestle for the Red Raiders.
"I am getting ready to wrestle in college," Torres said. "It is a totally different atmosphere and a very different type of wrestling, a lot more difficult. Any challenge that comes my way I am prepared for and hopefully I keep getting better at the collegiate level."
Orlando Torres (145) lost his first and last match by decision, but won his second match by fall in 3:28. Freshman Elijah McCourtney (138) was able to go 2-2 in the tournament, winning both his matches by decision.
"Elijah ( McCourtney) came leaps and bounds in the last six weeks," he said. "Being able to go 2-2 for him was great and I have to give a lot of credit to Orlando (Torres). He worked a lot with him in these last three weeks and those two working out together really stepped Elijah's game up. I give Orlando a lot of credit for the improved mental game he helped with Elijah."
"Orlando is disappointed, but he was dealing with some injuries and was right in the mix of things," he said. "If he was a little healthier, he might have found himself on the podium and he returns next year."
Freshman Reece White (170) also went 2-2 at the state tournament, losing a 5-3 and 4-2 decision. He also won by fall in 2:31 and won a 8-7 decision, all very close matches.
Junior Kody Zemke (220) lost a 6-4 decision in his first match, but came back and won a 12-5 decision in his next match. His next two matches were very similar, as he won a 7-1 decision and lost a 11-3 majority decision.
"I was pretty happy with the way we performed," Mitchem said. "I would have liked to have had more kids on the podium, but the two freshmen (McCourtney and White) going 2-2, a match away from placing and both lost by two points. They were right in the mix and have a lot of positives for next year."
"Same with Kody Zemke," he said. "His biggest things was nerves. He just couldn't get relaxed and a couple things happened, he panicked, and made a couple mistakes. A lot of positives too, almost placing as well."
Madras will have five state returners for next year's season. Madras was able to score 34 teams points and place in the top 20 at state.
"I think the program is in good hands," Mitchem said. "Things are starting to move forward and we are returning a lot of state qualifiers. We also had some kids that were close to coming to state as well. With five returners and a couple that just missed out, that is seven kids. They all have potential to place and that could mean a possible trophy."