REDMOND — Mountain View did not have to “wrestle great,” according to Les Combs. The Cougars, the Mountain View coach said, “just had to be us.”
After the first day of the Class 5A Special District 4 championships at Redmond High on Friday, the Cougars appear destined for their first district title.
With a whopping 14 wrestlers advancing to the semifinals, Mountain View recorded 167 points to take a 48.5-point lead over defending district champion Redmond into the final day of the district meet.
“We had a little target on us, but we just have to do what we do, and the winning and losing will take care of itself,” Combs said. “We talk about ‘half a point at a time.’ Every match, battle for a point. And if we can get a major decision, get a tech fall, pin a guy late in a match when you’re behind, fighting for every point … keep battling and not worry about the outcome. I think that takes a little pressure off of them.”
Pinning an opponent late was exactly how Beau Caldwell kept his district title hopes alive at 152 pounds. Trailing 14-13 in the third and final period, Caldwell got Pendleton’s Isaac Urbina on his back, and Caldwell booked the fall with 18 seconds remaining, his second pin of the day, to move into the semifinal round.
“I was so done,” Caldwell said of what energy he had left by the end of the quarterfinal match. “I just thought about how hard I worked for this that I can’t give up now. I’ve got to make this happen so I can go to state. Because that’s what it’s all about is finishing hard at the end if you have to.”
Also recording two falls in the championship bracket for Mountain View were Evan Mclean at 132, John Cole at 138, Blake Ohlson at 145, Carson Fassett at 152 and Jacob Conklin at 220. In addition to 14 semifinalists, nine other Cougars are still alive in consolation brackets.
The top four placers in each weight class qualify for the 5A state championships next week at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
Redmond High, hosting the district meet at the high school for the first time since 1996, is the only other team in the nine-team field with 10 or more semifinalists. Highlighting the 12 Panthers advancing to the penultimate round was 220-pounder John Lawrence, who recorded two falls, each in under a minute. Jacob Curry, at 132, and Trae Bolken, at 138, each had a tech fall and a pin for Redmond, which recorded 118.5 points as a team, while Kole Davis (120), Bailey Fisher (152) and John Crivellone (195) all used first-period falls to win their quarterfinal matches.
“I’ve grown up, 14 years, wrestling, and it’s all been here (at Redmond High). Last time wrestling in here, I might as well go all out,” Fisher said, adding that being a defending district champion at home adds some stress for the Panthers. “But you’ve got to turn it from nervous pressure into motivation. You’ve got to always go. You’ve got to always have that little bit extra to push.”
“We’ve been looking forward to this day all year long,” said Redmond coach Kris Davis, whose team has another four wrestlers still alive in consolation. “This is what we wrestle for right here, to peak at this time. We’ve had some disappointments, but all in all, I think we’re right where we’re supposed to be.”
Pendleton is in third place with 93.5 points, followed by Hermiston with 85 points, Hood River Valley with 84 and Bend High with 72. The Lava Bears advanced three wrestlers to the semifinals: Payton Davis at 170, Haakon Kjellesvik at 182 and Daniel Winters at 195.
“We had a rough first couple of rounds,” said Bend coach Luke Larwin, whose team has nine other wrestlers who could qualify for state through the consolation brackets. “But I’m confident our kids are going to get over their jitters and we’re going to rebound and do well.”
Javan Hedges, at 145, and Logan Shenk, at 220, moved on to the semis for Ridgeview, which is seventh as a team with 54 points. Summit, which is eighth with 38 points, has two semifinalists in Andrew de Lorimer (152) and Jonah Yunker (285).
The spotlight Saturday, however, is on Mountain View, which is inching closer to making program history.
“This is what we’ve been working for all season,” said Caldwell. “We’ve been working for districts and then state. We want to finish with the highest team score here so that we can do our best at state. It would be pretty significant for us to get our goal here.”
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