By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
After a rough week, the McNary High School varsity wrestling squad got back on track with a dual win over South Salem High School and a tournament win at Don York Invitational.
However, things didn’t start out so rosy with the Saxons.
“South had their first five light guys in to start the dual and that’s where the bulk of their talent is. We ended up pinned four times and then and tech falled once,” said Jason Ebbs, McNary head coach.
Ebbs was waiting for someone to make something good happen when Celt Grant Gerstner took to the mat. It looked like Ebbs would be waiting even longer as Gerstner ended up on his back underneath his opponent in a leg ride.
“I got taken down and I heard the other coach yelling ‘Keep the legs in, keep the legs in.’ I remembered a move that Coach [Jay] Goin taught me where you reach back and grab the guy while arching your back,” said Gerstner.
He didn’t remember the name of the move, a bridge back, but gave it a shot.
“I’ve seen it done a number of times, but rarely a ref with the courage to call the fall. It’s basically a defensive pin,” Ebbs said. You flop yourself over and you reach behind you and pull your opponent straight to the mat. That pin put us back in the match to finish well.”
After the dual meet, the McNary squad divided forces with the bulk of the roster heading to the Don York Invitational at Cleveland High School and the cadet wrestlers, those born in 1996 or 1997, departing for the Oregon Classic Qualifier held Saturday, Jan. 7, at Sheridan Junior High School.
The Celts won the Don York Invite with 306 points, outscoring their nearest competitor, Pendleton High School, by 41 points.
The top performer for McNary was Anthony Flores who took first in the 220-pound weight class.
“I had a goal of placing and then, when I thought about it I wanted to make it to the finals,” Flores said.
Flores pinned his two opponents on the first day, but the second day held more close calls.
“The first match of the second day I got caught and put on my back, but my elbow slipped through and he got called for an illegal hold. In the second round, the guy ended up on his back and I went for the pin,” he said.
In Flores’ finals match, the score was close or tied through all three rounds. “I managed to pull ahead, but the guy slipped a lock and I got called for an illegal hold that tied the match,” Flores said. “It went into overtime and we were both exhausted. I remembered those goals I set though and I got a takedown in overtime and got the win.”
Tyler Brown, at 195 pounds, was one of two wrestlers to finish second at Cleveland.
“My bracket ended up being a lot of forfeits and byes, but in the final match I didn’t get credited with a takedown that I should have gotten and it ended up giving the other guy the win,” Brown said.
Mike Mata took fourth at 106 pounds, Tyler Jordan sixth at 132, Andy Downer tied for fourth at 132, Edgar Jimenez took third at 138, Justin Lowe took sixth at 138, Jeremy Lowe took second at 145, Ajay Urban took fifth at 152, Gerstner took sixth at 170, Cody Ratliff took fifth at 182, and Joel Hunter claimed fifth at 285.
At the cadet tournament, Riley Repp took third at 88 pounds, Jeff Ashley took third and Kody Plaza took fourth at 113, Jorge Gracida claimed second at 138, Jordan Cagle took second at 145, and Taran Purkey took third at 170.
Ebbs singled out Gracida for his accomplishments and improvement over his performance in the same tournament last year.
“He’s a kid that’s gone through phenomenal growth. He ended up second in his bracket, he wrestled seven matches, finished 6-1, and he was absolutely exhausted. But when he found out that all those kids he beat were pretty tough he was rightfully proud of himself,” Ebbs said.