Wyatt Kessler went 8-1 for McNary High School at the Northwest Duals on Thursday, Dec. 29 and Friday, Dec. 30 at the Linn County Fair and Expo Center. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

ALBANY—McNary went into the Northwest Duals having not wrestled in nearly three weeks, missing three veterans with illness or injuries, forfeiting four weight classes and had another four spots filled by either first-year or freshmen grapplers.

And the results showed as the Celtics finished 1-8 on Thursday, Dec. 29 and Friday, Dec. 30 at the Linn County Fair and Expo.

“Our first day, we wrestled some programs that are traditionally very good,” McNary head coach Jason Ebbs said. “I like wrestling those programs because it teaches our kids what wrestling is supposed to look like and what they can become. We’re coaching a team that’s going to be at its best in February and we’re going to get better everyday.”

McNary went 0-5 on Thursday, losing to David Douglas, Sherwood, Hillsboro, Redmond and Central.

But there were bright spots.

Competing at 152 and 160 pounds, Wyatt Kessler went 8-1 over the two days. After getting pinned by Bryce McKinley of David Douglas to open the tournament, Kessler went on a roll, winning six matches by pin fall, one by technical fall 15-0 and another on a 12-0 major decision.

“He commits the time that is over and above what a typical high schooler will do,” Ebbs said. “The work he’s done is what helps pay off for him.”

The Celtics got their only team win on Friday, edging St. Helens 36-33 in the middle bracket.

At 152 and 160 pounds, Carlos Vincent went 5-4 with four pins and a 13-5 major decision. Sean Burrows also finished 5-4. Wrestling in between 132 and 138 pounds, he had four pins and won another match by forfeit.

The surprise of the tournament for McNary was freshman Javier Torres, who went 4-5 in his first varsity action. At 126 pounds, Torres pinned Joshua Smith of Hillsboro for his first win. Before the tournament was over, Torres earned another pin, won two matches by forfeit and lost another in overtime, 15-13, to Blake Hodges of Cleveland.

Ebbs said Torres has a feel for the sport.

“I just enjoyed watching Javier,” Ebbs said. “There were several times where he was taking pressure from his opponent and instead of just falling over because he didn’t know what to do, his body felt it and he put his feet in the right place, he put his hands in the right place, he put his head in the right place and he did some things that are very difficult to teach. He just felt wrestling and turned bad situations into better situations.”

The Celtics were without Brayden Ebbs (illness), Nick Hernandez (injury) and Enrique Vincent (injury).

“They’re (Hernandez and Vincent) going to be out injured for a little while still and hopefully make it back,” coach Ebbs said. “Those are some key players for us that help make a difference when we go to a dual match tournament.”

The Celtics will continue to compete against some of the best programs in the state.

McNary will begin 2017 on Friday, Jan. 6 with a tournament at Newberg, which placed second in the Northwest Duals behind only Elk Grove. Redmond and David Douglas finished fourth and sixth respectively in the 36-team tournament.