Sean Harman's championship leads West Linn wrestlers to seventh at state
The West Linn Lions have once again taken their place among the state's best.
A year after finishing 13th at state, the West Linn wrestling team came into the 2017 Class 6A state championship hoping for a top-10 finish.
The Lions accomplished that goal and then some, racking up 86 points to finish seventh among 45 teams in the two-day tournament held Friday at Saturday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
"It's tough when you only bring eight guys and you have a team like Roseburg bringing 27 or 28," said sophomore Sean Harman, who won his first state championship at 152 pounds on Saturday. "I was really focused on myself, and I knew that if I was focusing on myself, I would help the team out a lot."
"I think we have a very good team," added junior Taran Floyd, the state runner-up at 160 pounds. "We have some young guys and I think we'll come back next year and perform even better."
The Lions' success was highlighted by Harman's win, Floyd's second-place effort and a sixth-place finish from sophomore Ethan Long at 182 pounds.
On the road to his state championship — Harman capped his run with a third-round pin of unseeded Century senior Ty Simko — the top-seeded West Linn sophomore opened with a second-round pin of Sunset senior James Morsberger, then made it two in a row when he notched another second-round pin, this one over Benson senior Alexander Kuhn.
Harman kept the heat on in the quarterfinals, pulling ahead of sixth-seeded West Albany junior Chandler Villarreal, then winning when Villarreal was injured and could not continue. That set up what turned out to be Harman's closest match of the tournament, a 5-2 win over fourth-seeded Century junior Josh Grant. In that bout, Harman scored a takedown 1 minute, 27 seconds into the first round, escaped early in the second and tacked on a takedown with 53 seconds left to lead 5-1 before allowing a late escape.
Harman left nothing to chance in his title match, notching a takedown just 18 seconds into the finale, a second takedown 20 seconds later and a third near the end of the first round to lead 6-2. He extended his margin to 9-3 after two rounds, then in the third period added an escape, a pair of takedowns in just 20 seconds, and finally, a pin with 1:19 left on the clock.
Following a year in which Harman lost the 2016 state title (by fall to Jefferson's Jasiah Williams), his 2017 result — which helped him finish with a 38-1 overall record — meant even more.
"When that whistle blew and I saw I was state champ, it was pretty awesome. I don't even know how to describe it. It was awesome," he said. "There's been a lot of waiting, a lot of wondering. I've been working for it since I was just a little guy and I finally got it."
And it helped, at least a little bit, to put his freshman year title loss in the rear view mirror.
"Considering what happened last year, getting pinned in the finals, it feels really good to come back and get the pin," he said. "I'm really proud and I'm really happy with myself. That just came from the confidence my dad had in me and all my coaches had in me. It made me feel comfortable. It made me feel like I belong there."
Floyd battles to second
Floyd, a junior, proved he belonged there, too. At the end of his injury-shortened first year at West Linn — he lost in the Class 5A semifinals a year ago as a member of the Wilsonville wrestling team — Floyd had amassed a 15-1 overall record, claimed a Special District 4 championship and finished second at state.
Indeed, Floyd very well might have finished first at state too, but for one big impediment — unbeaten Roseburg senior Layne Van Anrooy. Van Anrooy, already a three-time state champion, three-time team champion and one of the most decorated wrestlers in Oregon history, was top-seeded at 160 and showed no interest whatsoever in allowing Floyd to spoil his dream of a perfect season.
Floyd, who had wrestled extremely aggressively throughout the tournament, opened their title match the same way, scoring a quick takedown in the first round to lead 2-0.
That, however, proved to be the end of the offensive highlights for Floyd.
Van Anrooy finished the first period with an escape and four takedowns to lead 9-5, added a reversal and three takedowns to extend his lead to 17-8 in the second, then added on five more takedowns in the third period to win a 27-13 major decision.
"He's a very tough wrestler. He had some good shots," Floyd said of Van Anrooy. "I wish I would have stayed in a better stance, but it happens. I got an early takedown there, but after that, he really came after me and he was always on the attack."
While disappointed with the result of his final match, Floyd knew that very few Oregon wrestlers had ever posed the kind of challenge that Van Anrooy — who finished his year at 49-0 —presented.
"There's great stuff to learn from wrestling a guy like that," Floyd said. "You don't run into a guy like that very often, and when you do, it's nothing but a learning curve for me. You've got to come out, take what happened out there and go back to the wrestling room and train and get better."
In the lead-up to the championship, Floyd — the second seed — opened the tournament with a bye, kicked off competition with a second-round pin of Barlow junior Houston Simmet, then notched a 5-0 decision over Sprague senior Dane McKinney in their quarterfinal.
In his semifinal, Floyd powered past West Albany junior Mitchell Sorte 6-3, opening with a first-round takedown, then seeing Sorte score a reverse to tie the score at 2-2. In the second round, Sorte made an escape to lead 3-2, but Floyd pulled back ahead with a takedown with 1:12 remaining in the period. After a trade of penalty points in the third round, Floyd scored a late escape to win 6-3.
"I wrestled pretty tough. I had some good matches and I'm just going to look forward to getting back in the room and getting better," Floyd said. "I (got) a little taste of how it was, how it was out here in the final, and hopefully, next year I can come back out here and win it and see how it goes."
More Lions at state
Long was the Lions' only other placewinner, going 4-3 over the two-day tournament, winning four of his first five to guarantee a spot on the podium before falling in the third-place semifinals and the fifth-place match.
Long opened with a first-round pin of Jefferson's Roman Slater, pinned Reynolds' Danil Radchenko in the second period in round two, then was pinned in the first round by Austin Harris of Roseburg in his quarterfinal.
He came back with a 15-8 win over Josh Poppleton of Beaverton and added a 3-2 win vs. North Salem's Jorge Ochoa before falling short in his final two, losing 10-7 to Tigard's Jacob Beck — the eventual third-place finisher — and by technical fall to Brenton Reddy of West Salem in the fifth-place match.
Also wrestling at state for West Linn were Kaden Goff, Cameron Rockwood, Steven Shelofsky, Seth Long, Brett Bell and Brandon Ahlgren.