Champions! Illinois Valley High wins state


Ryon Martinho tosses coach Jesse Clark over his shoulder after winning his first state championship where he pinned his opponent in 1:15 Friday, Feb. 24. (Courtesy photo for the Illinois Valley News)


Dusty Fiske IVN contributing writer

State champs in a whirlwind of a weekend! The Illinois Valley High School boys wrestling team left Cave Junction for the state tournament about 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22 to compete in the event, which was scheduled to start Thursday, Feb. 23 at 9 a.m. in Portland. They ran into what Portland called “the storm of the century!”
The team traveled for almost 10 hours before they finally arrived at their hotel. Along the way the coaches and several wrestlers got off the bus to help many cars that were stuck in the snow – this heartwarming story was on the local news in Portland.
After all that excitement, the wrestling matches were canceled Thursday. The two-day event, for classifications 4A/3A/2A/1A, was rescheduled to a one-day event starting Friday, Feb. 24 at 9 a.m. Then the fun really began.
From the very beginning it was obvious that it was going to be a showdown between the Cougars and the perennial champion, Culver, which had won 13 out of the last 15 tournaments. Both teams made their schools proud when the preliminary rounds finished, the score was Culver on top with 137.5 and IVHS with 134.
There were two matches left at each weight class to decide first and third place. The Cougars had four championship bouts and one third place match. Culver had five championship bouts and two third place matches.
The night started at 106 pounds. I.V. had both freshmen James Conn and junior Mike Miller, going head-to-head for first place. Culver had a wrestler in the third-place match. The championship match was an excellent bout with Miller defeating Conn 7-5. That gave the Cougars 4 team points. (It should be noted that throughout the tournament Conn and Miller combined, scored 46 team points.) However, the Culver lad pinned his opponent also, receiving 4 team points. The score was Culver 141.5 to IVHS 138.
Crowd participation was huge as there was a large fan base from the I.V. that was rooting loudly for each of the I.V. wrestlers, and another for the opponent in every Culver match.
During the 113-pound match, pitting IVHS sophomore Micah Martinho against Culver’s Debron Sanabria, Micah Martinho won by injury default, scoring 6 points for the Cougars. The score became IVHS 144 and Culver 141.5. Next, in the 120-pound match, Culver scored a pin in the third-place match for 4 points bringing the score to Culver 145.5 and IVHS 144.

Then, Culver’s wrestler at 132 pounds was upset by an unseeded wrestler from Toledo, so no change in the Culver/IVHS scores. At 138 pounds top seeded senior Ryon Martinho pinned his opponent in 1:15 to score 6 points for the I.V., making the score IVHS 150 – Culver 145.5. This was Ryon’s fourth trip to state. He has placed in the top three every year, but this was his first championship! He was so excited that he tossed coach Jesse Clark on his shoulder and carried him the length of the mat!
But the excitement was not over – there was another upset. Culver’s No. 1 seed at 145 pounds was defeated by the No. 3 seed from Colton in overtime. You could hear the I.V. crowd cheering loudly for Colton. The score stayed the same.
That brought them to the 152-pound match pitting No. 2 seeded, undefeated IVHS junior Ryan Griffin against the No.1 seed from Culver Kelin Abbas. (Abbas defeated Griffin in last year’s championship match.)
During the tournament, it was a widely known that if Griffin defeated Abbas that the Cougars were going to be the state champions. In a very hard-fought battle, Griffin won 2-1 and IVHS won their first state championship in any sport in the 70-plus years of its history! After 14 hours of competition, the championship trophy was presented to a very thrilled group of young men and their coaches.
Highlights of the tournament: 1) A very nice memorable tribute, during the Parade of Champions ceremony, honoring Jay Miller for over 40 years of dedication to wrestling; 2) The outstanding athlete award was presented to 106-pound wrestler Mike Miller, who won his third straight championship; and 3) Last, but certainly not least, head coach Jesse Clark was voted Oregon State Coach of the Year by his peers – an award well deserved!
Final wrestler achievements:
Mike Miller (26-5) 3-time State Champion
Micah Martinho (36-1) 2-time State Champion
Ryon Martinho (40-4) State Champion
Ryan Griffin (25-0) State Champion
James Conn (28-8) State runner-up
Jozia Williams (31-12) Fourth Place
Ebyan Lyndsey (33-10) State Participant
Talen Shaffer (28-14) State Participant
Ethan Green (23-14) State Participant
Kaiden Green (19-18) State Participant
Jahsiah Demuth (17-15) State Participant
Alex Aiassa (5-6) State Participant
With nine of the above, for a total of 19 wrestlers returning next year, it should be another exciting wrestling season in the I.V.
Writer Dusty Fiske and his wife Helene reported having a lot of fun going to the events and trying to pass on information about the IVHS wrestling team to the Illinois Valley News and hoped you have enjoyed his columns. His contributions were much appreciated from the IVN staff. The Fiskes are already looking forward to next year!