By MATT RAWLINGS

Of the Keizertimes

Even though it had been more than two weeks since they faced competition, the McNary High School wrestling team proved that they didn’t have any rust to knock off.

The Celtics took fifth place out of 21 teams and sent seven athletes to the podium at the Don York Invitational last Saturday.

While a lot of squads might take it easy during the holiday break, McNary wrestlers use that time to turn up the intensity of their practices and workouts.

Based on the results last weekend, it appears that the extra practice time paid off.

“It’s kind of become a tradition for us to work really hard and get better during the break,” McNary head coach Jason Ebbs said. “I was definitely really pleased. We’re definitely on an uptick when it comes to performance.”

McNary sophomore Tia Vincent provided the main highlight for the Celtics as she won the girls tournament with back-to-back pins in the semifinal and final matches.

If was the first time Vincent placed first at a tournament in her career.

“It honestly didn’t even  feel real at first,” Vincent said. “I feel like I usually don’t win a lot of matches, but I just kept working hard and taking it one match at a time.”

Vincent fell behind early in her semifinal match against Dore Young from Franklin. But midway through the second round, Vincent was able to come back and get the pin.

“(Young) was super aggressive so I was just looking for her mistakes because she was coming out too aggressive,” Vincent said. “I was able to grab her from behind and pull her down.”

In the championship match, Vincent earned a first-round pin against Jennifer Lopez from Forest Grove to take home the title.

“It probably should have been a more challenging match, but Tia just controlled her position and did what she was supposed to do,” Ebbs said.

After losing his quarterfinal match, Jordan Orr came back with four straight victories to place third in the 106-pound division. Orr earned a 9-3 decision over his teammate, Damian Hernandez in the third-place match. 

113-pounder Grady Burrows earned a pair of falls in his first two matches, then won via technical fall in his semifinals match to reach the championship round.

Burrows, however, was pinned in the second round of the title match against Tualatin’s Argenys Arbarca-Lopez.

Garret Wampler (182 lbs.) finished with a record of 4-3 at the tournament, which was good enough for sixth place. Lanye Runyan also placed sixth in the 220-pound division. 

Anthony Garcia-Reyes (220 lbs.) earned three straight victories via pin, and then won an 11-4 decision in the semifinals, before losing the championship match against Dustin Jorgenson from Cleveland.

Five out of the seven McNary wrestlers that made it to the podium on Saturday were either freshmen or sophomores — with the two exceptions being Garcia-Reyes and Wampler.

“It’s exciting to see the growth out of our young guys,” Ebbs said.

The Celtics return to the mat this afternoon to compete in the Earl Gillis Invitational at Newberg High School