Following a 7-1/2-hour ordeal to get from Philomath to Portland on Wednesday night and then finding out that the tournament wouldn’t even start the following morning, the local wrestling squad had to work through challenges before even taking the mat at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
COMING IN WEDNESDAY’S WARRIOR WATCH: WRESTLING COACH TROY WOOSLEY TALKS ABOUT HIS TEAM’S 7-1/2-HOUR TRIP INTO ONE OF PORTLAND’S WORST-EVER SNOWSTORMS.
In a tournament that was reconfigured into a single day of matches over 13 hours on Friday, Philomath was able to collect enough points for a top-10 finish despite one of the program’s top wrestlers being forced to sit out because of injury.
On the strength of four athletes earning medals, the Warriors ended up as a solid ninth-place team — 17 points ahead of 10th-place Astoria and 14 points behind eighth-place Henley. The top four schools, which is the cutoff for trophies, were La Grande, Sweet Home, Crook County and Scappoose.
Freshman Porter Compton, freshman Riley Barrett, sophomore River Sandstrom and senior David Griffith were the team’s placewinners. Four other Warriors won at least one match at the coliseum and a freshman who had started the season on the junior varsity picked up valuable experience.
Compton exceeded his No. 4 seeding at 138 pounds by winning four of five matches.
“Porter’s big thing is he got real comfortable on his feet,” PHS coach Troy Woosley said. “At the beginning the year, he had one move and one move only and now he doesn’t.”
Following a pin over a Marshfield opponent in the first round, Compton defeated No. 5 seed Tucker Jackson, a senior from Estacada, on a 9-5 decision. That win advanced Compton into the semifinals against La Grande senior Joshua Collins, the No. 1 seed.
Collins worked a 10-1 major decision over Compton and went on to defeat third-seeded Treyce Horton of Mazama in the championship bout. Compton dropped into the consolation bracket’s semifinals and regrouped for a 4-1 decision over North Bend junior Wyatt Smith, who was seeded sixth. In the third-place match, Compton earned a hard-fought 5-4 decision over No. 2-seeded junior Cohen Schleich of Estacada.
“If it’s close going into the third period, Porter’s going to win,” Woosley said. “He’s got a unique style … it works for him and if he gets that first takedown, it’s hard to score on him. He gets real comfortable on his feet and he beat some good kids.”
Controversial ending in Barrett match
Barrett, seeded No. 7 at 126 pounds, placed fourth in his first state appearance. After dominating a Crook County opponent in the first round with a 14-1 major decision, Barrett lost to Scappoose senior Anthony Comer, the No. 2 seed who would finish as the state runner-up. Barrett worked his way back into medal contention in the consolation bracket with victories over Henley’s Riley Ore, Stayton’s Leonardo Michel and Henley’s Kyle Nichols. The matchup against Michel was a challenge with Barrett advancing on a 4-0 decision.
In the third-place match, Barrett was matched up with fifth-seeded Landon Lavey, a sophomore from Crook County. Leading 5-3 late in the third period, judgment calls by the officials and trainers led to stoppage of the match.
On the call, Barrett was penalized a point to cut his lead to 5-4 for trapping the opponent’s arm while lifting him up and returning him to the mat.
“His head bounced and Riley might have let go at the end but it doesn’t matter … there’s reaction time so the officials called an illegal slam immediately and that’s one point,” Woosley said. “And then, you look at the kid and the kid’s out.”
Woosley said the Crook County wrestler was apparently unconscious for a second or two and in those situations, the fate of the match falls into the hands of trainers.
“He comes up and he’s wanting to wrestle,” Woosley said about Lavey. “The trainers said you cannot because we believe you lost consciousness. The kid absolutely was distraught that he won the match that way. … It’s the right call, it’s just very unfortunate, very unfortunate.”
The official result goes down in the books as Lavey winning by disqualification and Barrett had to settle for fourth.
Sandstrom, Griffith both finish 6th
Sandstrom got off to a good start at 106 pounds with victories over wrestlers from Crook County and Marshfield to roll into the semifinals. Sandstrom, the No. 6 seed, defeated fourth-seeded Leonardo Pacheco, a Marshfield sophomore, in the quarterfinal matchup with a pin in 3:46.
Sandstrom had to go up against the No. 1 seed in Tillamook junior Bryce Haltiner in the semifinals. Haltiner won on a pin and went on to take the state title.
“River Sandstrom wrestled good enough to win the whole thing,” Woosley said. “He was really close to being in it” and led in four of his five matches.
Sandstrom dropped his final two matches to end up in sixth place — both losses coming on decisions against higher-seeded opponents. Tillamook sophomore Jak Hopkes, the No. 5 seed, had to go to sudden victory to beat Sandstrom in the consolation semifinals, 9-7. Then in the fifth-place match, Sweet Home freshman Tytus Hardee, the No. 2 seed, outdueled Sandstrom, 7-2.
“It’s just wrestling and styles don’t match up sometimes but yeah, he was right in it though,” Woosley said.
Griffith took a different path to sixth place at 170 pounds. After advancing out of the first round with a first-period pin over a Marshfield sophomore, the sixth-seeded Griffith went up against third-seeded Cole Shafer, a senior from La Grande. Shafer advanced out of the quarterfinal matchup with Griffith dropping into the consolation bracket.
Griffith battled back with back-to-back third-period pins over St. Helens senior Aden Oehlert and Sweet Home senior Evan Jensen. In the consolation semis, Tillamook senior Gilbert Whitlatch, the No. 5 seed, pulled out a win on a 7-0 decision.
“We had a tough draw in the second match but he was a gamer and really, really came back strong and he just wrestled smart,” Woosley said. “He got really comfortable on his feet again like he did last year at state and that’s what happens — when you get comfortable on your feet, you win at state.”
Griffith went to the fifth-place match and lost to La Grande senior Jared Isaacson.
Four other Warriors win matches
Senior Caleb Blackburn, seeded eighth at 120, opened the tournament with a pin over a Molalla opponent and then pushed No. 1 seed Mason Wolcott, a junior from La Grande, in the quarterfinals with a loss on a 10-6 decision. In the consolation bracket, Blackburn was eliminated with a loss to sixth-seeded Mason Lacey, a junior from Crook County.
“He’s probably the best kid I’ve ever had that hasn’t placed,” Woosley said about Blackburn. “And he’ll tell you that he can’t quite win the big matches and I’m not sure if he even knows why … it’s just one of those deals.”
At 132 pounds, No. 6-seeded senior Chase Ringwald dropped his opening-round match to a St. Helens opponent before bouncing back for a win on a 12-0 major decision over fourth-seeded Mathyis Horton, a junior from Klamath Union. But in the next round, Ringwald was eliminated by La Grande freshman and No. 8 seed, Tommy Belding.
“The big tournaments are so emotional, especially for the seniors, and he was very disappointed and he has a right to be,” Woosley said. “That’s not the way he wanted to end his career.”
Junior Gradin Fairbanks, unseeded at 152, lost to a Pendleton opponent in the first round but was able to regroup to pin St. Helens junior Willam Herrington in 1:54 in his first consolation match. Tillamook senior Tyler Moncrief, the No. 4 seed, eliminated Fairbanks in the next match.
“There’s no easy road at state and if you don’t take first or second in your region and don’t get one of those higher seeds, it’s just tough,” Woosley said. “And it should be that way but it is tough.”
Freshman Lake Mulberry also had a win in the tournament with his appearance at 220 pounds. Seeded seventh, Mulberry dropped his first-round match to a Henley opponent. In the consolation bracket, he defeated Ontario sophomore Raul Macias with a pin in 3:56. But in the consolation quarterfinals, he went up against a familiar foe in Sweet Home sophomore Dylan Sharp and lost on a second-period pin.
“Actually with a little more experience, he’s winning a couple more of those matches,” Woosley said. “He missed a lot of time with sickness and everything this year and he had only 20-some matches but I think he’s going to be a monster in a year or two.”
Freshman Lukas Hernandez had to face No. 1 seed Kai Carson, a junior from La Grande, in the first round at 126. Hernandez pushed Carson, who went on to win state, into the third period before losing on a pin in 4:49. Hernandez at one point reversed Carson to his back but was able to roll through it without giving up any points. In the consolation bracket, Hernandez lost to Marshfield senior Bailey Thompson, the No. 8 seed, who had been upset in the first round.
“It was awesome having him get the experience at state but I know he knows he can compete,” Woosley said. “We’ll be very excited for him next year for him.”
Philomath had qualified a 10th wrestler out of districts in Ben Hernandez, but the Warriors senior had to drop out because of an injury.