An insider goes to the mat for her Vikings


By Hannah Wartnik
For her father, Siuslaw coach Neil Wartnik

The challenge of the state tournament is meeting our most difficult
competition of the season in a stressful, crowded and overwhelming
environment in the amphitheater at Memorial Coliseum. We never know how
the team will respond to the situation until they are at state, but many
of the most skilled and best-conditioned wrestlers in the state tend to
struggle with the pressure of performing in that environment.

That being said, our 8-person state team did an exceptional job of
rising to the challenge.

For Luis Infante-Marquez and Christian Newlan, it was a first time
qualifying for state. They wrestled tough matches in two very
competitive weight classes. Infante-Marquez lost to Cade Wynne of
Mazama, who would go on to place 5th at 182, and after scoring a win,
Newlan was eliminated by Dyontae Navarrete of Woodburn, who took 3rd at
220.

Mason Buss wrestled a number of strategic matches at 120. After
defeating Bradley Rieger of Tillamook in the first round, he wrestled a
challenging match against the eventual fifth-place finisher from
LaGrande. Buss was slammed to the mat and fought injury the remainder of
the tournament, showing perseverance and strong technique. He was
eliminated just before placing rounds by the 3rd place finisher, Gavin
Stone of Baker-Powder Valley.

At 152, Ryan Jennings again proved he is capable of standing with the
best in the state. After a first-round win, he faced off against state
runner-up Jacob Dunn from Cottage Grove. Jennings remained tied with
Dunn through the first round and most of the second as well, before Dunn
pulled away in the third to secure a victory. Ryan was dominant in his
next match, pinning his opponent to move on to the second day of the
tournament. He lost a heartbreaker just before placing rounds to 4th
place finisher Tanner Gibson from Junction City. Jennings led Gibson in
scoring and expertise the entire match, before Gibson scored a reversal
in the last fifteen seconds to secure a one-point victory. It was a
disappointment for Ryan, but only solidifies his growth throughout the
year and his ability to contend with the very best wrestlers. He
wrestled extremely well in all matches, and is so close to being able to
beat the top placers in the state.

The standout performances of the tournament came at 285 from Matthew
Horrillo, and 138 from Elijah LaCosse. On Friday, Matthew squelched two
opponents to make it to the semi-finals, before meeting Christopher
Woods of Hidden Valley. Though he kept the match tied at 0-0 first
round, Woods caught Matthew for a second-round pin. Despite the
disappointment of this match, Horrillo fought back through consolation,
ending the tournament with two very decisive victories to stand on the
podium at 3rd place.

Elijah suffered a disappointing first-round loss to Alex Kehr of
LaGrande, the team that would win the team title. Kehr pulled ahead
early and went on to pin Elijah in the second round. LaCosse rose above
the defeat.  He dominated and pinned five consecutive opponents to
secure third place. Along the way he defeated two returning
state-placers, eliminating third-seed Keegan Hagerty of Tillamook from
the tournament before also defeating Sweet Home's Tristan Spencer. His
final match was a rematch against Kehr for third place, and LaCosse
pinned Kehr in the first round of the match. Throughout the tournament,
both Matthew and Elijah showed resilience and confidence, coming back
from disappointing losses to solidify that they deserve to be counted
among the best in Oregon wrestling. They showed strength in their losses
and humility in their victories and helped the team to an overall 13th
place out of 32 teams. LaCosse scored an incredible 23 team points, as
many as can be scored by a 3rd-place finisher.

In the girls tournament, sophomores Bailey Overton and Hayden Muller
endured difficult first-round matches against the second-seed in their
brackets. Despite the difficulty, and despite the fact that the girls
compete against every Oregon division (1A-6A), Overton and Muller
competed well and won matches at the state level. Muller was matched
against Haylee Davis, a regional champion from Banks. Hayden defeated
Davis with a first-round pin to move into the semifinals. After a loss
in the semifinals, she showed strong technique as she dominated Jasmine
Hopkins from Forrest Grove. Hayden took 4th in her weight class.  On the
podium she was flanked by three upperclassman (two seniors and one
junior), two of whom were returning state champions. Though she was a
first-time state competitor, she rose above the pressure of the event to
show a strong performance.

We were so excited by the growth and character we saw in our wrestlers
this weekend, and look forward to what they will accomplish in the
future, as wrestlers and as individuals.




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