By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

SALEM—When McNary sophomore Enrique Vincent’s knee swelled up early in the wrestling season, he didn’t know if he’d be able to recover in time to compete for a district championship.

After finally getting cleared, Vincent ran twice a day, in the morning before school and then after practice, to cut 12 pounds so he could get back down to 120 and wrestle in the Celtics final two duals of the regular season on Feb. 8 and 9.

The hard work paid off as Vincent defeated West Albany junior Wyatt French 11-5 in the finals of the OSAA 6A Special District 5 tournament on Saturday, Feb. 18 at West Salem High School.

McNary sophomore Enrique Vincent gets his hand raised after winning the 120-pound district title. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

Vincent thanked his coaches, Jason Ebbs and assistant Devin Reynolds, for pushing him.

“They knew my limits. They knew I would do anything for this spot right here,” Vincent said. “It feels great. It makes up for all the days and weeks I’ve missed.”

Vincent started the district tournament with two pins on Friday. After defeating Sprague sophomore Luke Merzenich 8-5 in the semifinals, Vincent led French from the beginning, scoring a quick two points on a takedown in the opening seconds.

“He (Vincent) loves to wrestle and when you’ve got a kid out there who wants to be out there, great things can happen, Ebbs said.

Vincent said the key to winning the finals match was controlling his opponent’s wrist.

“I knew he was a big scrambler and I’m a big scrambler, too. I love scrambles,” Vincent said.

Vincent was one of eight McNary wrestlers to place in the top four in the district and qualify for state: Sean Burrows (second, 132), Brayden Ebbs (third, 145), Jerry Martinez (fourth, 126), Killian Dato (fourth, 138), Carlos Vincent (fourth, 152), Isaiah Putnam (fourth, 170) and Blake Norton (fourth, 285).

For much more from the district wrestling tournament, pick up the Feb. 24 edition of the Keizertimes.