PORTLAND — There was plenty of local intrigue at this past weekend’s OSAA state wrestling championships at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Here are some notes of interest from Douglas County and elsewhere around the state:
Reedsport with the Upset
Culver had won 12 of the last 13 Class 2A/1A team championships. Just two weeks earlier, Reedsport placed fifth as a team at the Class 2A/1A Special District 2 tournament.
Not only did Reedsport stage one of the biggest upsets of this year’s tournament. The Brave pulled off one of the biggest team wins in recent history.
“It’s kind of a Cinderella story in a way, but it happened exactly the way it had to happen,” Brave coach Bo Hampton said. “We did think we had a realistic shot. We’ve been talking about it with this group for three years.”
Reedsport, with seven wrestlers in the tournament, advanced five to the championship semifinals and three to the finals as the Brave found themselves in a head-to-head, point-for-point battle with Culver atop the team standings.
Sophomores Adam Solomon (106 pounds) and Miguel Velazquez (170) and junior Elijah Carson (120) all advanced to the finals. Solomon and Carson won their championship finals matches to give Reedsport a slim edge over Culver, but the Bulldogs’ Lane Downing scored a pin in the 145-pound title bout to give Culver a 103-101.5 edge in points, meaning the Brave had to get a win from Velazquez at 170.
The soft-spoken Velazquez came through, scoring a 14-3 major decision over Oakland’s Austin VanHouten to clinch Reedsport’s first team wrestling championship since 1967.
“Going into the semifinals we realized we had a chance,” Hampton said. “We had the matchups we wanted, and the kids came through.”
Prior to the championship finals, Hampton and his assistants — Rod Hampton and Jeff Cleveland — were named 2A/1A Head and Assistant Coaches of the Year as voted by their peers.
With six of their seven state qualifiers returning for the 2020-21 season, the Brave will be a contender for the title again next February.
It’s A Family Affair
Reedsport became the first school in the 72-year history of the state tournament to have three brothers — Christian, Aaron and Adam Solomon — all compete at the state tournament in the same year, let alone have all three gunning for state championships as they each reached Saturday morning’s semifinal round.
That goal didn’t quite come to fruition. While sophomore Aaron Solomon won the 106-pound title, his twin brother Adam ended up fourth at 120 and older brother Christian, a junior, took third at 126.
The Brave weren’t the only squad with a trio of siblings at the state tournament, as Mountain View had a set of Ohlson triplets — seniors Beau, Blake and Taylor — all gunning for state titles. All three reached the finals, with Beau winning the 145-pound title and Taylor taking down top honors in the girls tournament at 135. Blake dropped a 6-3 decision to two-time champion Hunter James of Newberg in the 195-pound final.
This came two weeks after a trio of Illinois brothers — Bi’lal, Nasir and Sincere Bailey of Calumet City’s T.F. North — all won state titles at the Illinois Class 2A state championships.
It’s unverified if three siblings had previously won individual titles in a single state tournament in the same year. But the Solomon brothers will get a crack at being the next threesome — and the first in Oregon — to meet that milestone in 2021.
A Long Time Coming
Oregon wrestling has long been dominated by powerhouse programs like Roseburg and Newberg at the 6A level, Crook County at the 4A/5A level, Sweet Home at the 4A level, 3A powers Burns and Nyssa and 2A/1A hulk Culver. For other schools to break through that ceiling, it requires one or two good years of athletes to come through, sometimes once in a generation.
In addition to Reedsport, Class 4A La Grande and (surprising as it may sound) Newberg broke long title droughts.
La Grande trailed Sweet Home by 1.5 team points entering the finals, but four of the Tigers’ seven finalists won their matches and La Grande overcame the Huskies for a 261-254.5 team points advantage, claiming its first team wrestling championship since winning the big-school title in 1996 (La Grande’s only other title came in 1978).
All just three months after La Grande won its first state football championship since 1974.
Newberg, which entered as the favorite in the Class 6A tournament, wasn’t assured of anything until about 1:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon during the placement rounds. Shortly after Roseburg lost one of its matches, long-time Newberg coach Neil Russo walked past the 6A mats with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face.
The Tigers had secured their first state championship since 2009.
Four-Timer List Grows
Oregon’s list of four-time state wrestling champions grew by two to 39 on Saturday night, as Beau Ohlson and Crescent Valley’s Santos Cantu III claimed their fourth titles. Ohlson posted a 10-1 major decision over Century’s Ernesto Alvarez to complete his four-peat, while Cantu III — who won his first three championships at Class 6A Sprague — pinned his way to the Class 5A 195-pound title for team champion Crescent Valley.
Oregon also had its first unofficial four-time girls state champion as Emma Truex of Phoenix beat Scappoose’s Bella Amaro 4-2 in the 125-pound title match. Truex won her first two titles when the girls’ tournament was an exhibition, and won the last two years as the OSAA made the girls tournament an officially sanctioned event for the 2018-19 season.
Crescent Valley junior Chance Lamer won the 126-pound title for his third championship, and will be the only Oregon wrestler with a shot at a four-peat next season. Hunter Mode of Crook County, James Ellis of Banks, Gabe Vidlak of Cascade Christian, Elijah Cleaver of Nyssa and Blake Larson of Dayton — all seniors — will graduate with three state titles to their credit.