I.V. wrestlers win 2nd at Oregon Classics

Dusty Fiske – IVN contributing writer

The Cougars traveled to Redmond Thursday to compete in the Oregon Classics Friday and Saturday. The weather didn’t help as a foot of snow fell over the weekend and stranded the team in Bend for an extra night.
The weather caused the normal 2A field to be 11 teams instead of the normal 16. This caused Friday’s action to be broken into two pools instead of the normal four pools.
The boys started Friday morning against Central Lynn with eleven pins and a forfeit, winning 72-12. Next up was Crane High School, 10 pins and two forfeits, winning 72-12. Camas Valley was next, another easy victory, 69-11. Then came the Enterprise High School team which is ranked fifth in the latest OWF rankings. The locals started fast, winning 9 of the first 11 matches to lead 52-12. Enterprise had three highly rated upper weights and closed the final score to 52-28.
The final match of the first day was against the perennial champion, Culver High School. This Culver team is not as strong as past years and the Cougars roared to a 30-0 lead and never looked back, winning 66-18.
The first day results were used for seeding the teams into an eight-team bracket. Willamina High School (ranked No. 3) was seeded No. 1 in the bracket and Illinois Valley was seeded No. 2.
The action started Saturday with I.V. against seventh seeded Grant Union (ranked No. 6). Aided by four forfeits, I.V. won a very good match (57-24). Unfortunately, the 190-pound freshman Brenden Ingram, suffered a broken left arm and is lost for the season. He’ll be back next year, and everyone hopes his recovery goes well.
Next up was Toledo High School who is No. 1 in the latest OWF ranking but was seeded No. 3 in the Classics bracket. They have four wrestlers ranked No. 1 and eight in the top 10. I.V., ranked No. 2, have five wrestlers ranked No. 1 and nine in the top 10. Obviously, this looked to be a great matchup, and it was our toughest matchup so far. The boys took the early matches, as expected, but Toledo was very tough. I.V. won by the final score of 46-30.
That set up the championship against Willamina who had 10 wrestlers ranked in the top 10. There were many exciting matches as expected. The match was close throughout the bout and Jozia Williams won a trilling overtime match, 11-9. I.V. was in the lead 30-15, Willamina was not done however, and won the next three bouts to go into the lead 31-30. Senior Kaiden Green came roaring out and pinned his man to make the score 36-31. That left the 287-pound match. Rhyne Nelson (21-1) and at least 275 pounds was matched against Jaxson Heckard at 210 pounds who has been filling in at 285 pounds because of injuries. Our only hope was not to be pinned, but the 2nd ranked Nelson did his job to pull out an exciting 37-36 final.
Evidently a couple of the I.V. wrestlers were upset and got out of hand. Unfortunately, one team point was deducted for what is called coach unsportsmanlike conduct. With an extremely exciting, talented team, defending state champions, ranked No. 2 in the state emotions were elevated and coaches and team captains will make sure this conduct doesn’t happen again.
The team is led by seniors: three-time state champion Mike Miller (29-1), defending state champ Ryan Griffin (28-0), two-time state placer Jozia Williams (26-7), Kaiden Green (22-9) and Dylan Hall (14-11).
Juniors: two-time defending state champion Micah Martinho (28-1), Talon Shaffer (22-9), Ethan Green (15-8) and Cole Nerple (12-8).
Sophomore: returning sencond-place finisher James Conn (25-0).
The wrestlers have a big home match against fifth ranked 6A Grants Pass Thursday beginning at 5 p.m. and then go to Rogue River High School Saturday to compete in The Rumble on the Rogue beginning at 8 a.m.