By Josh Bronson
Pilot staff writer
Eight members of the Brookings-Harbor High School wrestling team qualified for the state wrestling tournament with their performances at the Far West League district tournament Saturday at Siuslaw High School in Florence.
The Bruins took second place overall at the tournament as eight wrestlers placed in the top three in their weight class and will compete in the OSAA 2008 Wrestling State Championships at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, which begins on Thursday, Feb. 14.
South Umpqua took home the team title with 238.5 points and the Bruins came in second with 201.5 points.
Douglas finished the district tournament in third place with 182.5 points, North Bend was fourth with 175.5, Siuslaw fifth at 117 and Sutherlin was sixth with 114.5 points.
The Bruins, along with the Trojans of Douglas High School, will each be sending eight wrestlers to state while South Umpqua leads the way with nine grapplers headed to Portland.
"I think we finished well and I was happy with the kids performance," Coach Dave Freeman said. "We got beat up in the semis, but came back strong in the consolation rounds."
On Saturday, the Bruins had ten wrestlers in the semifinals, but only three of those wrestlers were able to advance to the championship match.
Now eight Bruins will focus on making their way through the difficult state tournament in hopes of placing in the top eight.
"You have to wrestle tough to do anything at state," Freeman said. "The state tournament's no gimme."
Ray Mazyck, junior
1st place, 112 pounds
In the 112-pound division, Ray Mazyck was only one of two Bruins to win an individual championship.
Mazyck used a dominate performance over Nick Cheser of North Bend to take home the 112-pound title, pinning Cheser in 5:38.
To get to the championship match, Mazyck pinned his first two opponents in less than a minute defeating Josh Pugh of Sutherlin in 54 seconds and then downing Cody VanEpps of South Umpqua in 52 seconds.
Mazyck is the only returning Bruin who placed at last year's state tournament as he took seventh place in the 103-pound weight class.
"My mind set is to wrestle my match, wrestle my hardest and do what I have to do," Mazyck said. "If I learned anything from last year, it's that anyone is beatable. But I feel confident in myself and I think I can place in the top four."
In his first match at state, Mazyck who is seeded sixth in his bracket will wrestle Nick Ough of Elmira.
Dustin Paradis, freshman
3rd place, 135 pounds
Dustin Paradis is the youngest Bruin and only freshman on the team that will be making the trek up to the Memorial Coliseum.
"It feels good," Paradis said. "It's a pretty big accomplishment to go as a freshman. Now I'm just going to go out there and wrestle my hardest."
After losing to top-seeded Alex Hunt of South Umpqua in the semifinals, Paradis pinned Tyler Vian of Douglas in 2:48 in the third place match.
Paradis received a tough draw in the first round of the state tournament as he faces off against No. 2 seed Brock Crocker of Sweet Home.
Willie Bennett, senior
1st place, 140 pounds
The only other Bruin to win an individual title was Willie Bennett at 140 pounds.
In the championship match, Bennett defeated Nathan Kelly of North Bend in a 13-8 decision.
At the start of the third and final period, Bennett only led by one, 9-8, but used a great scramble on the mat to reverse Kelly and take an 11-8 lead.
Bennett then secured the victory as he put Kelly on his back for two nearfall points and then held on for the 13-8 win.
In his semifinal match, Bennett pinned Chris Murphy of South Umpqua in 1:08.
Bennett, along with fellow senior Cody Miller, will be attending the state wrestling tournament for the fourth straight year.
Bennett was also named the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament for the lower weight divisions.
"I'm happy about taking the district tournament in my senior year," Bennett said. "I've been wrestling a lot better this year and I'm hoping to place at state. Basically, I just have to be confident in myself, confident in my shot and be aggressive."
In his first match at state, Bennett will be wrestling the No. 4 seed, Steven Westerlund of Yamhill-Carlton.
Tyler Drafahl, senior
3rd place, 145 pounds
For the second year in a row, Tyler Drafahl qualified for state with a third place finish at the district tournament.
Drafahl used a pair of takedowns one in the first period and one in the third to pull out a slim 4-0 victory over Cameran Earle of Siuslaw in the third place match.
In the consolation semifinals, Drafahl had to wrestle teammate Daniel Grubb, and was able to take home a narrow 8-5 win.
Drafahl will battle with Tommy Wyatt of Yamhill-Carlton in his opening match of the state tournament.
"I'm just going to wrestle really hard at state and just keep going," Drafahl said.
Cody Miller, senior
3rd place, 152 pounds
Cody Miller, who would have been making his fourth trip to the state tournament, placed third in the 152-pound division.
Because of a problem with intestinal blockage, Miller is currently in the hospital (see story on Page 1A) and will not be making the trip to the state tournament
In the consolation finals, Miller used takedowns in the first and second periods and then a reversal in the third as he held on to a 6-4 decision over Jake Gilman of Sutherlin.
Miller also had decision victories over John Duman of Siuslaw (4-0) and Bruce Ohlrich of North Bend (9-1).
Denny Davis, senior
3rd place, 171 pounds
Denny Davis needed a takedown in overtime to edge out teammate Kyle Hover 4-2 in the third place match to advance to his first state tournament appearance.
"It was tough because we know each other's moves," Davis said about having to wrestle his teammate. "But he's going to be a good wrestler in the next couple years."
Other wins for Davis included a 53 second pin over Eddy Williams of Siuslaw and a 4-2 decision over Nick Garcia of North Bend.
"I'm looking forward to going to state and I'd like to wrestle better there than I did here (districts)," Davis said. "But now that I got to state, the pressure's off."
In his first match of the state tournament, Davis will be wrestling the winner of J.R. Gates of Cascade and No. 3 seed Jared Schneider of Henley.
Mike Althof, junior
2nd place, 215 pounds
In the 215-pound weight class, Mike Althof was nearly crowned the champion in his division, but a questionable call gave Andrew Neilsen of Douglas the slight 4-2 win.
After giving up a reversal at the start of the second period, Althof escaped, cutting the lead to 2-1, and then looked to take Neilsen down.
Althof took a beautiful shot and wrapped up Neilsen, his hands and knees briefly hitting the mat, but the referee did not award Althof the takedown as Neilsen scrambled back to his feet.
In the third period, Althof escaped again to tie up the match at 2-2.
With the match winding down, Neilsen appeared to be stalling and not trying for a takedown, which forced Althof to take a last minute shot in which Neilsen spun around him and recorded the takedown for the 4-2 win.
In his only other match of the tournament, Althof pinned Dillan McKinney of Sutherlin in 1:15.
"I'm just glad I made it to state," Althof said. "I was really nervous about it."
Althof was another Bruin who got an unlucky draw at the state tournament as he has to wrestle No. 2 Mike Furrer of Junction City a two-time state placer in his first match.
Cody Brooks, senior
3rd place, 215 pounds
With a pin at 3:48 over Dillan McKinney of Sutherlin in the third place match, Cody Brooks qualified for the state tournament in his last year.
"It's awesome," Brooks said. "I'm just happy to get there."
Brooks pinned Richard Farmer of South Umpqua in 1:01 in his first match before getting pinned by eventual champion Neilsen in his semifinal match.
But Brooks came back strong in the consolation bracket, pinning Brian Beesley of North Bend in 2:35 to reach the consolation finals.
"I had a couple of bad matches," Brooks said. "But I thought that I came out and wrestled smart in my last match."
In his first match at state, Brooks will wrestle Heath Honeycutt of Philomath.
Seven other Bruins placed, earning more team points for their squad, but did not place high enough to qualify for the state tournament.
At 112 pounds, freshman Aaron Miller took fourth place, falling to Brian Bowers in the consolation semifinals.
To reach the third place match, Miller registered a technical fall over VanEpps of South Umpqua, defeating him 17-2.
Freshmen Erik Olsen and Brock Bristow each finished in sixth place in the 125-pound and 130-pound divisions, respectively.
In the 145-pound weight class, Grubb, also just a freshman, finished in fifth place with a 10-4 decision over Michael Bradley of Siuslaw.
Grubb also pinned Austin Hensley of North Bend in 2:28 before losing to his teammate, Drafahl, in the consolation semifinals.
At 160 pounds, junior Evan Peterson took fourth place and junior Ron Hunt took fifth for the Bruins.
Peterson lost an extremely controversial 13-12 decision to Adam Guffie of Sutherlin in the third place match.
Peterson used his superior takedowns to grab a 6-2 lead after the first period.
But in the second, Peterson got put on his back three different times and Guffie pulled out to a 9-6 lead.
In the waning moments of the match, Peterson trailed by three points, but was awarded a penalty point as Guffie locked hands and then reversed his opponent to tie the match at 12-12.
But, thinking he was down by one, Peterson let Guffie up in order to take him down again, giving Guffie the one-point lead.
Unfortunately, Peterson ran out of time before he had the chance to score again.
On his road to the consolation finals, Peterson defeated Daniel Jobe 16-10 and his teammate, Hunt, 6-1.
Hunt earned fifth place honors as he beat Jobe 20-9 in the fifth place match.
In his first consolation bout, Hunt defeated Tyler Varga of North Bend, pinning him in 2:44.
At 171 pounds, sophomore Kyle Hover took fourth place after narrowly losing to fellow Bruin, Davis.
Hover pinned Nick Garcia of North Bend in 1:45 before he lost to No. 1 seed Denver Conrad in a 10-0 major decision.
Hover then proceeded to pin A.J. Sewell of Douglas in 1:56 to reach the consolation finals.
In the 285-pound weight class, Mike Klein placed fifth overall with a victory by injury default in the fifth place match.
Results of the first day of the state tournament will be posted on www.currypilot.com Thursday night.
Photos of the first day of the state tournament, as well as all of the pictures from the district tournament, can by found on www.hatchphotosports.com.