Celt Louis Palos breaks down an opponent at the Northwest Duals. Palos exited the tournament with a 5-2 record. Three McNary wrestlers went undefeated. (Photo by Jim Sweigart)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

It’s something of a conundrum that the McNary High School varsity wrestling team ended their Northwest Duals experience with the best-ever record – 5-2 – of their history in the tournament and its worst-ever placing – ninth.

“We lost the wrong two duals, and that’s just the way it works sometimes,” said Jason Ebbs, McNary head coach.

The team got off to a rough start with a 49-25 loss to Snohomish High School.

“They were a studly team, but that loss really fueled us in the next two matches of the day,” said Celt Edgar Jimenez, who went 5-0 for the tournament as he moved between 138- and 145-pound weight classes.

Wins over Hillsboro High School, 51-20, and Scappoose High School, 48-22, boosted the Celts to second in their pool and into the championship brackets.

Louis Palos, who went 5-2 overall for the tournament at 120 pounds, said changing up his usual technique proved effective after taking an early loss in the Snohomish dual.

“In the second and third matches, I got more into the things I’ve been doing in practice and working on single-leg takedowns which helped,” Palos said.

In the second day of the tournament, McNary locked horns with West Albany High School and the dual went south on an accidental slam call that changed the Celtic winds, Ebbs said.

McNary lost that match, and a shot at placing, 38-25.

“We fell short, but I think we gave West Albany a match-up they’re going to remember,” Jimenez said.

The Celts walked over their consolation bracket teams easily. McNary beat Bend High School, 47-26, Silverton High School, 45-23, and Cleveland High School, 41-22.

Top Celt wrestlers included Palos and Jimenez as well as Devin Reynolds, 5-0 swinging between 138 and 145 pounds; Anthony Flores, 5-0 at 220 pounds; Jeremy Lowe, 5-2 swinging between 145 and 152 pounds; and Joel Hunter 5-2 at 285 pounds.

Dallas High School won the Northwest Duals by beating David Douglas High School 33-32 in the finals.

Palos and Jimenez were hoping to motivate the team to meet weight, which proved to be a challenge at some weight classes in the tournament.

“The one place where I thought we were a lot better in the tournament was conditioning, we’re farther along than in that area than we were at the beginning of the season,” Palos said.

There were still plenty of challenges left for the team, Ebbs said. As the school year ramps up after winter break, the Celts will be turning their attention to team goals they want to meet before the season’s end.