Wrestling: Russel Stigall wins second state title
It wasn't long ago that Russel Stigall was unsure if he'd be able to carry on the family wrestling legacy.
The son of a state champion and the youngest of four brothers, each of whom won titles for the North Marion wrestling program, Stigall had big shoes to fill.
But after winning his second state title in as many years, Stigall is carving out his own legacy that may end up being better than just about all of them.
"That was always the pressure for me, and I overcame that," Stigall said. "It was nice, because now I'm fighting to be the best of them."
Stigall claimed a 5-2 decision over Tillamook sophomore Chad Werner in the finals of the 4A 132-pound State Wrestling Championship tournament on Saturday, adding a second title to the 120-pound championship he won as a sophomore last year.
With two titles under his belt, Stigall has surpassed both his father, Ford, and brother Tyler, and matched his brother Jake. Although he'll never be able to duplicate the prolonged dominance of his third brother Lane, who lost just one time in his high school career and made four straight finals appearances, Stigall still has an opportunity to match Lane's three state titles.
"When I was younger, no one really expected that," Stigall said. "I always felt like I was the worst of the five of them."
Stigall's road to this year's title was much different than his sophomore year. Entering the tournament as the top-seeded favorite, Stigall knew he was a known commodity with a target on his back. Everyone would be gunning to knock him off.
"It's a little different," Stigall said. "Most of the kids will adapt to your style. They knew how I wrestle, so they all adapted to my style. I felt like I had some pretty close matches."
But Stigall was content to grind his way to the championship match, wrestling defensively and giving his opponents very little opportunity to capitalize on mistakes.
He opened the tournament with a first-round pin over Marshfield sophomore Peyton Forbes and followed with an 8-3 decision over No. 8 Noah Thompson of Cascade to advance to the semifinals, one of three members of the Huskies to do so, along with teammates Brandon Gibson (138 pounds) and Matt Carrillo (182).
Stigall gutted out a close 3-1 decision over No. 4 Coltyn Ringen of North Bend to advance to the championship match for the second straight year. But instead of facing either of the top-seeded wrestlers from the other side of the bracket, his opponent was relatively unknown sophomore Chad Werner, the No. 6 seed from Tillamook.
Werner knocked off district champs Colton Morgan of Crook County and Elijah Banister of Baker, both seniors, and was looking to add Stigall to his list of upsets on the day.
"He's a stud for a sophomore," Stigall said. "All credit to him. He's very tough."
The two opened the championship match feeling each other out for the first round, neither giving any ground to the other.
Stigall opened the second round on the bottom and quickly escaped to go up 1-0 and was able to take Werner down midway through the round to take a three-point advantage into the third round.
Werner made a quick escape to open the third and cut his deficit to 3-1. The two circled each other throughout the final two minutes, looking for an opening, and the referees penalized Stigall for stalling with 30 seconds left, making it a 3-2 match.
Hoping to avoid a late upset, Stigall took a shot at Werner in the closing seconds for a takedown to make it 5-2 and secure the victory. It was closer than he would have liked, but it was enough to get the job done.
"It wasn't my best match, but I felt good," he said. "I won."
Stigall's title was enough to lift North Marion into the top 10 of the team standings. The Huskies finished 10th with 56 points, led by Stigall and state placers Gibson (2nd) and Carrillo (6th). North Marion has fielded at least one finalist in every state tournament since the OSAA went to six classifications in 2007 and has won titles in every year since then except for 2013.
Edit: A previous version of the article incorrectly stated that the Stigall family has 10 state wrestling titles. The total is nine titles.