IVN contributing writer
The local wrestlers are having a very special season! They started Dec. 2 by scoring 235.5 points to edge South Medford by 32.5 points and claim first place at the Dan Vidlak Tournament. Then they swept all three matches at North Valley, all by over 20 points to go 3-0. Then they went to Culver, scored 217 points and claimed their second title. Last Wednesday they welcomed Gold Beach and Brookings to CJ. They continued their record run by totally outclassing two teams in a rebuilding mode. First up was Gold Beach who surrendered 9 forfeits and 3 pins en route to an I.V. victory at 72-12. Then Brookings gave up 5 forfeits, 6 pins, an injury default, and a tech fall to lose 76-1.
The boys then went to Grants Pass for the Winter Kickoff to compete against 39 schools from Central and Southern Oregon and Northern California. Most of the schools are much larger than I.V. who never placed higher than third. It was very close for two days, but when the dust cleared the Cougars were in first place with 157 points, just eight points more than South Medford.
It was a total team effort with 10 wrestlers recording at least one win. First Jozia Williams won 3 matches to finish in sixth place. Then Micah Martinho came back after an early loss, with five wins running his season record to 17-1, and finished in third place.
Then came finals night: If all three of our finalists win, they knew they had the first-place trophy. Sophomore James Conn started the action at 106 pounds. He pinned Kaiden Bell of Acata High School in 3:54. His season record is now 14-0. Our three-time defending state champ, Mike Miller, then ran his record to 18-1 by pinning Rover Sandstrom of Philomath High School in 2:26. Next, Ryan Griffin, who hadn’t lost a match since the state finals in April 2022, ran his streak to 41 straight (16 this season) by pinning Mason Core of North Valley.
This was an incredible tournament for a very special team.
On a sad note, our 285 pounder Alex Leal, took a shot to the knee in his second match and broke his femur and kneecap and is lost for the year. He did get back in time to see the finals. Get well Alex!
The boys’ last match of 2023 is tonight at 5 p.m. at the gym. The opponent is Mazama High School from Klamath. They have a very good squad that finished in third place at the Grants Pass winter kickoff. It should be a tough match so try to come out and see them tonight.