McNary’s Joel Hunter settles in with his opponent in a headlock during the North Salem dual, Wednesday, Jan. 11. (Photo by Jim Sweigart)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The Celts pinned the Vikings on the wrestling mat in a 69-9 win last week, then took fourth place finish in the Oregon Classic.

In the dual meet with North Salem High School, two matches took center stage for Jason Ebbs, McNary head coach.

The first was a return bout between Celt Mike Mata and Viking Raymond Smith, Smith took the win in a 5-2 decision.

“These two young men have been wrestling each other for years and the battle continues. So far, Mike has lost to Raymond twice this year in close matches, but it was very competitive,” Ebbs said.

The other highlight was Celt Edgar Jimenez’s match with Justin Waldrop.

“With a tie score, 4-4, in the third round, a technical violation for fleeing the mat awarded Jimenez a go-ahead point and the win,” Ebbs said.

Other Celtic winners in the North Salem match were: Mike Phelps by pin in 3:00; Louis Palos by pin in 3:50; Andy Downer by pin in 1:59; Ajay Urban by pin in 1:25; and Joel Hunter by pin in 3:09. Devin Reynolds, Zach Hammerschmith, Grant Gerstner, Cody Ratliff, Tyler Brown and Anthony Flores all won by forfeit.

At the Oregon Classic, the Celts had their mettle tested as a team as much as individuals. The Classic draws the top teams from every region to compete in a dual-style competition rather than as individuals like they will in February at the state tournament.

“We wrestled six phenomenally tough matches, but when you have that kind of schedule, even your studs end up losing a match somewhere along the way,” Ebbs said.

The only McNary wrestler to emerge unscathed from the fray was Reynolds, who went undefeated.

McNary beat Centennial, Thurston, and Oregon City High Schools in their pool to make it to the top eight on the second day of the tournament.

The Celts took down Hillsboro High School 44-22 to earn a berth in the quarterfinals where they suffered through a 57-15 loss to Roseburg High School.

“That was a little humbling,” Ebbs said. “We had a legitimate shot at winning seven matches against that program. If we make some changes, we could make that a competitive dual.”

Still, the Celts earned the right to wrestle for third place with David Douglas High School, the No.2-ranked team in the state.

Things looked good with McNary’s Andy Downer pinning Jeremiah Baker, the No. 1-ranked 120-pounder in the state.

“Andy wrestled a phenomenal match and beat him handily,” Ebbs said.

Justin Lowe took down another high-ranked opponent in Douglas’ Gabe Peak, but then the Scots turned the tables, scoring two upsets of their own. Jeremy Lowe was outlasted in a double-overtime match and then Louis Palos got caught in a pinning predicament.

“It was just on of those things where Louis found himself on his back and pinned when he had been winning the match,” Ebbs said.

David Douglas took the dual 40-29, and McNary took fourth place.