McNary’s Damian Hernandez (blue singlet) twists his body into a pretzel in order to get position on Centennial’s Edgar Molina. Hernandez would pin Molina with two seconds left in the third round. (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

On Jan. 3-4, the McNary wrestling team competed at the Don York Invitational along with 20 other schools. 

The Celtics took 34 kids to the tournament and had 17 boys make it to the second day of the the invitational.  

“We took more than 30 kids to go wrestle. That speaks measures there. If you want to do well at tournaments, you have to get the kids to come,” McNary head coach Jason Ebbs said. “We had a lot of young kids that went deep in the tournament and did really well for themselves. I’m seeing nothing but an uptick with our program.”

One of the youngsters that had a phenomenal tournament was sophomore 106-pounder Damian Hernandez. 

Despite not being seeded, Hernandez made it all the way to the championship match after earning three consecutive pins. Hernandez held his own in the championship bout but lost a 6-0 decision to Kenny Vang from Reynolds.

“Damian pinned his way into the finals. There were times where he was behind on points and he had to come back and scrap his way to a victory. It was really exciting to watch him and I hope that he uses this experience to raise his expectations,” Ebbs said. 

Senior Anthony Garcia-Reyes earned a third place finish in the 220-pound division. After losing a 5-1 decision in the quarterfinals to Curtis Strahm from Tualatin, Garcia-Reyes worked his way up the consolation bracket with a pair of pins, as well as a tough 4-1 victory against Kevin Villa from Putnam, which earned him a spot in the 3rd place match and a rematch with Strahm.

Garcia-Reyes avenged his earlier loss with ease, pinning Strahm in just 34 seconds. 

“He is always a competitor. People like him are vital to the success of our program,” Ebbs said. 

Aldo Villavazo took fifth in the 285-pound division with his 2-1 victory in the fifth-place match.

The McNary girls wrestling program sent six wrestlers to the tournament and four of them were able to place.

Madison White placed fourth in the 235-pound division while Dalia Hernandez placed third at 190 pounds thanks to her second round pin over Dakota Gray from Forest Grove. 

Caitlin Saldivar (155) and Kaylynn Villalobos (120) each placed fifth in their respective divisions after stringing three straight victories together. 

McNary will be competing at the Earl Gillis Invitational in Newberg on Friday, Jan. 10. They will return to dual action on Thursday, Jan. 23 against West Salem.