Sisters wrestlers qualify for state tournament
Last updated 2/15/2022 at Noon
Sisters qualified four wrestlers for the OSAA 4A Championships based on their places at the District 4 Tournament hosted by Sisters High School on Saturday, February 12.
Teams from Ontario, La Grande, Baker/Powder Valley, Corbett, Madras, McLoughlin/Weston-McEwan, and Gladstone joined the host Outlaws for the tournament, in which the top four wrestlers in each weight class advanced to the state championships, which will be held Saturday, February 26 at Cascade High School in Turner.
Coach and Athletic Director Gary Thorson said, “It was great to host the district tournament and we had some great fan support. We have a very supportive group of parents who have raised some great kids and it is a pleasure for our staff to get to work with them.”
La Grande plastered the other teams with a total of 447 points to easily outdistance Baker/Powder Valley for the district trophy. Sisters finished with 124 points for fifth place in the team standings.
Following the meet, Coach Thorson said, “I would describe the day as a roller coaster ride for our team. Some ups and downs and some crazy unexpected turns at times. We obviously went in there hoping to qualify more for State. But once again our kids wrestled extremely hard against some great competition. They fought and scraped all day long, and I think represented the school very well.”
Carter Van Meter and Carson Brown placed fifth in 113-and 132-pound class before Hayden Kunz came through with the first qualification for the Outlaws. It was easy going for Kunz with a bye in the first round and a quick pin in round two over Strawbridge of Madras in just 52 seconds. He then battled Collins of La Grande, but succumbed to a fall near the four-minute mark.
Kunz battled back for a shot at State with a thrilling 8-6 decision over Rodriguez of Ontario. The victory assured him of a trip to State and a match for third place against Alire of Madras, which he lost in a 9-4 decision.
Ben Cooper wrestled all the way to the championship match at 145 pounds and a State qualification. Cooper made quick work of his first two opponents with pins in 34 and 26 seconds respectively. He then faced off with Carson of La Grande for a chance at the title. The pair battled for 5:14 before Cooper lost by fall.
Cooper’s teammate Dolan Pool placed sixth at the same weight.
Wyatt Maffey also worked his way to the championship match. Following a first round bye, he outscored Kehr of La Grande 7-1. It took Maffey 2:50 to pin his next opponent, Collin Switzler of Madras, which set him up for the title round versus Ruben Hernandez of Ontario.
Hernandez proved too much for Maffey, winning by technical fall, leaving Maffey as the runner-up.
Two Outlaws scored in the 160-pound class as Scott Henderson and Jared Miller placed sixth and eighth respectively. Jared Vogt, at 170 pounds, also placed sixth, as did Jacob Washington at 195.
Henry Rard came through with the fourth and final State berth for Sisters by placed third at 220 pounds.
Rard beat Aiden Brown of Corbett by fall at the 4:56 mark following a first round bye. He then lost to Alex Ritter of Baker/Powder Valley in a match that lasted just under a minute. Rard then took on Tommy Ishida of Ontario, whom he outlasted in a 7-5 decision to finish third.
Highlighting individual performances, Thorson said, “Ben and Wyatt both had great days and in their championship matches they each wrestled kids who are potential state champions. Henry Rard and Hayden Kunz also both qualified for the second year in a row.”
Some of the younger wrestlers look to have bright futures, according to Thorson. “We were also very pleased with the wrestling of our three sophomores at the tournament,” he said. “Scott Henderson had his best day of wrestling for Sisters, and is probably our most improved wrestler this season. First-year wrestler Jaden Vogt picked up a big win and has a great future with us, and Dolan Pool was just a match away from qualifying for the second year in a row.”
With a day of close calls for the Outlaws, Thorson said, “Freshman Carter Van Meter probably had the heartbreak match of the day in losing a seesaw match with his opponent from Ontario. The match cost him a trip to State but he also has a great future with us and won over 20 matches this season.”
Thorson finished by saying, “Jacob Washington, Carson Brown, Jared Miller landed in very tough brackets and while they failed to qualify they all had very good seasons. All three of these seniors are going to be missed next year in a big way.”
Despite the ups and downs, Thorson acknowledged the team members’ commitment to one another as being meaningful to him as a coach. “One thing they showed again like they have all year long is how supportive and encouraging they are to each other,” he said. “Win or lose there seemed to always be someone there for the one coming off the mat. I love this about this team.”