By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
McNary head wrestling coach Jason Ebbs saw progress at the Oregon Classic in Redmond as the Celtics won their final four dual matches.
After losing its first four matches to North Medford, Grants Pass, Baker and Crook County, McNary got a much-needed victory, 39-33, over Mazama on Friday, Jan. 13 to close out the first day of competition and carried that momentum to Saturday, where the Celtics were a perfect 3-0.
“We knew we’d have a hard time but the really cool thing was, despite the quality of those programs, we continued to put 20 to 30 points up on the board, every single match,” Ebbs said. “That’s a really good number for what we have. We were hanging in there and doing a good job.”
A freshman came up big in McNary’s first match of Day 2, a 42-30 victory against Summit, as Brian Buchholz got his first varsity win at 182 pounds by pinning Dylan Kaminski.
“Earlier in the dual, we lost a match that I didn’t think we were going to lose,” Ebbs said. “The dual was at risk and he came out with a big W and pinned his guy. He was fighting and he competed. He got off the bottom and turned it into a positive spot. That’s what we’re looking for.”
The Celtics topped Ashland 48-18 and South Medford 48-24 in their final two matches as Ebbs continued to see improvement.
“Our kids are starting to pay attention to the sport of wrestling and starting to use the lessons we teach,” Ebbs said.
“Instead of just going out there and flopping around and hoping to win, they’re actually using the techniques that we teach. It started paying off.”
Brayden Ebbs and Wyatt Kesler led McNary on both days of the tournament.
At 145 pounds, Ebbs went 8-0 with seven pins. His closet match, a 15-11 decision, came on Friday against Clay Keller of Baker.
“That guy’s a really good wrestler,” coach Ebbs said. “He (Brayden) got taken down, couldn’t earn his points on his feet. He started the match down 4-0 and by the time we started the third round, he was down 11-7 and ended up turning the guy twice to win by four. That was just a good time to get some hard nose work on the mat because for a moment in time he was flustered and managed to use what he’s good at and win the match.”
Kesler went 7-1 at 152 pounds with his only loss coming to Grant Leiphart of Summit in a match Kessler re-broke his nose and was then pinned.
“I didn’t take time to get my head back into the match before I wrestled again,” said Kesler, who was able to return and pin his final two opponents. “I just had to get my mind back focused.”
His proudest win came against Colton Burkhardt of Crook County, who Kesler pinned in the third round.
“I went in there a little bit timid because Crook County is good but I just went out there and wrestled my match,” he said.
Carlos Vincent and Sean Burrows each went 6-2 at 160 and 132 pounds for the Celtics. At 170 pounds, Isaiah Putnam finished 5-3.
“The most exciting piece to the whole puzzle was every single kid, even our young kids, by the time we got done on Saturday, every single kid had contributed positively to our team score at some point during the tournament,” coach Ebbs said. “Our young kids are getting wins and picking up teams points and that’s what I needed to see in January to make sure we’re going in the right direction.”