By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary junior Enrique Vincent is excited to see what he can accomplish with a whole season of wrestling.

“I realized last year with only two weeks of practice, I made it that far,” said Vincent, who returned from an injury late in the season to finish third in the state at 120 pounds. “I wondered what could happen if I worked as hard the whole entire season and the offseason.”

McNary senior Brayden Ebbs

Vincent went to camp at Oregon State University over the summer and even trained with Ronnie Bresser, the Beaver’s 125-pounder, who was a four-time state champion at Henley High School in Klamath Falls.

“The success last year just opened his eyes a little bit to what his potential is,” Celtics head coach Jason Ebbs said. “He’ll do whatever you ask him to do but I think he’s finally transitioning into a kid that sees a bigger picture for himself. He’s talking about going to college and doing well at state.”

McNary senior Brayden Ebbs spent the summer getting stronger after a disappointing junior season in which he failed to place in the state tournament.

“My biggest weakness I think going through my high school career is my strength,” Brayden said. “I wasn’t very strong. This year I finally decided to put the strength on that I needed to.”

After wrestling at 145 pounds last season, Ebbs expects to jump as high as 170.

In a new weight class, Ebbs hasn’t scoped out the competition around the state.

“I haven’t looked and to be honest with you I don’t really care,” Ebbs said. “I’m coming back this year with a bad attitude and a sour taste in my mouth from what happened last year. You can’t control what happens the year before. You just have to push through that, flush it and come back the next year and tear it up. I’m not giving anything to anyone that they don’t deserve. I’m going to wrestle everybody like it’s going to be my last match ever.”

Vincent and Ebbs lead a young McNary team with a lot of new faces.

Senior Isaiah Putnam, another wrestler with experience at the state tournament, is out for the season after having knee and shoulder surgery in the offseason. But Putnam is still contributing.

“He’s a model example of what a true teammate should be,” coach Ebbs said. “He’s helping kids. He’s involved in the program. There’s no trophies that come for what he’s doing. We love having him around.”

The only other returning Celtics who have wrestled at the state tournament are Jerry Martinez, Noah Grunberg and Blake Norton. But coach Ebbs liked what he saw at the annual Blue-Gray wrestle off on Wednesday, Nov. 22.

“This group has tenacity,” Ebbs said. “We had only had six practices (before the wrestle off ) so we’re not real good at wrestling yet but the tenacity was off the charts. The kids are getting after it. They’re aggressive. They’re going hard. Once we get that refined into a couple techniques, it’s going to be really, really good to see where they go.”

McNary opens the season on Friday, Dec. 1 at home with an eight-team dual tournament, now called the Jerry Lane Invitational. The field includes powerhouses Roseburg and Dallas. Wrestling begins at 4 p.m.

“We invite some of the best teams we can get here and we hope to set a bar for what wrestling should look like,” Ebbs said.