Clockwise from above: Devin Reynolds takes down Colby Winnett in his finals match, Reynolds won the state title at 132 pounds. Sam Urban vies for control of her opponent. Justin Urban, who placed sixth in state, grapples for position. Tyler Brown, who placed fifth in state, rolls back onto his opponent. (Photos by Jim Sweigart)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

McNary High School crowned its third state wrestling champion in as many years last weekend.

Celt junior Devin Reynolds captured the 132-pound title in a 7-2 win over the Barlow High School’s Colby Winnett.

“It means a lot and I’ve had people tell I wouldn’t be able to do it,” Reynolds said. “I’ve been working toward it since my freshman year.”

The title was part of a trajectory for Reynolds who placed fourth in state as a sophomore last year.

“Devin hands-down talks the talk and walks the walk. He was flawless in shifting from team goals to individual goals and he’s worked his tail off to achieve a state title,” said Jason Ebbs, McNary head coach.

Reynolds adds his name to a rejuvenated lineage of McNary state champions: Levi Martinez and Wes Heredia claimed state tiles in the past two seasons for the Celtics.

To earn the right to wrestle for the championship, Reynolds dominated his first three matches winning by pin, technical fall and a major decision. While he’s aware he’ll have a target on his back during his senior year, he’s not overly concerned, “I’m fine with that. They might think they’re coming after me, but I’m still going after them.”

While the high school season is over, Reynolds is planned to travel to Pennsylvania next month to wrestling in a collegiate tournament.

Lady Celt Sam Urban captured her third state title at 160 pounds in the tournament.

McNary also fielded two state placers in the tournament. Regional champ Tyler Brown took fifth at 195 pounds and Justin Lowe took sixth at 138 pounds.
Brown made it to the semi-finals to face the No. 1 seed and nearly pulled off a win to match to make it into the finals.

“We were the underdog, but not by much. The score was tied at six seconds left and we lost control and lost it in a spot where overtime would have made the difference,” Ebbs said.

Lowe faced one of the tougher paths to the final rounds of the tournament and still made it to the podium.

“Justin looked that challenge straight in the face and still found a way,” Ebbs said.

Beyond those bright spots, the state tournament proved to be more of a challenge than many expected. Despite being regional champs and having beaten all but three of the teams in heads-up duals, McNary landed in 12th place as a team.

“Walking around that event for a couple of days was a pretty humbling experience,” Ebbs said.

Whereas McNary had a throng of wrestlers at the regional tournament for spots in the finals, many of those same wrestlers were fighting simply to stay alive at the state tournament. Four missed opportunities by a hair’s breadth.

Edgar Jimenez scored a critical takedown that would have won him a spot in the second day of competition about two-tenths of a second after the third-round buzzer. Jeremy Lowe had his opponent off the ground in a double-leg takedown, but the other wrestler managed to create a scramble situation negating the effort. Regional champ Anthony Flores and Grant Gerstner suffered similar miscues.

“Four times in a single round of competition we were doing our job and the chance of sport snuck in and took it from us,” Ebbs said.

The lesson for Ebbs was that the team still hasn’t quite crossed the threshold of being able to rebound from significant bumps in the road.

“We’ve had some real good successes this season and trophies we hadn’t earned in recent memory, but the thing is we walk away from this season with bigger and better goals for next year,” he said.