Mat men stymied at Reser tourney

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Celt Ryan Edsall wrangles an escape from his opponent in the McKay dual meet Thursday, Jan. 23. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Celt Ryan Edsall wrangles an escape from his opponent in the McKay dual meet Thursday, Jan. 23. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)


Of the Keizertimes

If the Celtics of the McNary wrestling teams had any doubts about the stiff level of competition at the Reser Tournament of Champions, they were quickly disabused of them last weekend.

The Celts ended up with only one placer, Riley Repp in the junior varsity brackets, after a grueling first day of the tournament.

“We are operating on year three of no middle school wrestling. We’re still teaching fundamentals to our junior wrestlers, and we have matches where we make seventh and eighth grade mistakes,” said Jason Ebbs, McNary head coach.

By the second day of the tournament, McNary had only seven wrestlers with a shot at placing. In varsity brackets, Louis Palos, Zach Hammerschmith and Alvarro Venegas were close, but found no success. In junior varsity brackets, Hunter Lucas, Jonathon Salcido and Ryan Edsall all made attempts, but found themselves left out of the medals.

Edsall was something of a surprise last-man-standing for the team.

“That’s the sign of a kid just trying to learn. He’s not a superstar, but he plays three sports and he’s a hard worker in each of them. He’s a kid that we’re proud to put on the mat because he wants to get better,” Ebbs said.

Celt Jonathon Phelps said he hopes the lackluster showing for the team is fuel for the coming weeks.

“We were not there, the whole team’s mindset was off. There was no mental toughness, but we were there physically,” Phelps said. “I want everybody to get a little bit in extra work to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Prior to the Reser event, the Celts swept a tournament with McKay and West Salem high schools Thursday, Jan. 23.

McNary dominated McKay 57-13 and took down the Titans 45-31.

Phelps won both of his matches on the night with a 9-0 major decision in the McKay bout and a 9-6 decision in the contest with West Salem. He said encouragement and coaching from his brother, Rob, went a long way toward the win.

“They were both pretty hard matches. I wasn’t on my A-game, but they were decent matches,” he said.

Celt Taran Purkey had to forfeit his West Salem match due to a stress fracture, but he figured out a workaround in his match with McKay.

“I intentionally took a bad shot and then wrestled from my knees,” Purkey said.

It seemed to work as he emerged with a pinfall victory in 3:55. Purkey planned to take the week off but return as soon as possible.

Other winners for the Celtics in the match with McKay were: Riley Repp by pin in 3:13; Sean Burrows by pin in 1:43; Caleb Conner by major decision, 11-0; Jordan Cagle by pin in 5:33; Noah Townsend by decision in 8-4; Edsall by pin in 3:39; Hammerschmith by major decision, 19-7; Venegas by pin in 46 seconds; and Steven Wilkerson by pin in 1:05.

Additional winners in the West Salem dual were: Burrows by pin in 1:15; Cagle by pin in 37 seconds; Edsall by pin in 1:16; and Hammerschmith by pin in 3:30.

Looking ahead, Purkey said he hoped the team working harder in practice.

“If we don’t work hard in practice we’re not going to be able to compete,” he said. “We definitely just give up on backs sometimes and we’ll need to work on that. Having a desire to win in our minds is going to help us pull through at those times.”

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