Bruin wrestler Isaac Sanders, top, uses an ankle pick to drive his opponent to the ground as he takes fifth place at the Eagle Point Invitational. The Pilot/Jef Hatch
The Brookings-Harbor High School wrestling team traveled to Eagle Point on Saturday to participate in the Eagle Point Invitational wrestling tournament and came home with just 15 team points – due in part, according to Head Coach Dave Freeman, to not being able to field competitors in nine of 15 weight classes. The Bruins had no one available to wrestle in the 106, 113, 120, 126, 138, 170, 182, 195 and 285-pound weight classes due to illness, injury and disciplinary issues.
“We only had five kids in the varsity bracket,” Freeman said. “Cole’s not here because he sick and he would have been in the finals, but it’s not just about Cole. We need to improve as a team.”
According to Freeman, bad choices, in addition to early season injuries, have reduced the team numbers.
“Bad choices, dedication factor, all of that combined has made it a rough year,” he said. “Unless we pick up the pace and the kids we have left really work hard, it’s going to be tough at districts.”
Despite the reduction in numbers, Freeman still has hope for the district tournament, which is just two and a half weeks away.
“Anything can happen,” Freeman said. “I’ve seen a team wrestle really bad, and then all of a sudden they come together at districts and wrestle their tails off.
“Ultimately, that’s all I want, no matter how many kids on the team make it.”
The wrestlers who competed Saturday gained valuable experience that they’ll be able to put to use during the time between now and the district tournament on Saturday, Feb. 11.
In the 132-pound weight class, Levi Williams lost his first match by pin to the eventual tournament champion, Trevor Anderson of Mazama. In his second match, Williams led by eight points with just 34 seconds left when he got caught and pinned to end his chances at claiming third place.
Brandon Holteen, wrestling at 145 pounds also lost his first two matches of the tournament. His first match was against a wrestler who was, “7 feet tall,” Holteen said. Thane Baumer of Eagle Point was, in fact, a tall lanky wrestler who beat Holteen 12-4.
Holteen’s second match was lost by pin to Braden Vega of Phoenix.
In the 152-pound weight class, Christian Hooper also lost his first two matches; the first by pin to Anthony Whipple of Rogue River and the second by pin to Jason Vinton of Bend.
Choosing to wrestle up a weight class at 160 pounds, Ethan Williams was pinned by Michael Sutterfield of Bend, but was able to claim a victory, by pin, over Mitch Hindrum of Churchhill before losing his third match to John Britt of Illinois Valley, 0-16.
The only Bruin wrestler to claim a spot on the podium was Isaac Sanders who wrestled in the 220-pound weight bracket. Sanders began the tournament with a 5-6 loss to the eventual second-place finisher, Jacob Cox of Mazama.
Moving into the consolation bracket, Sanders was able to pin David O’Conner of Bend and Kiel Repose of Klamath Union, before losing to Tyler Garrard of Mazama and moving into a match for fifth place.
Sanders and D.J. McKenna of South Umpqua took the battle for fifth into the final seconds of the third round when Sanders was able to free himself of McKenna’s grip for an escape point as the time ran out. The referee awarded Sanders the escape point, and he won the match 10-9 to claim fifth place.
“It doesn’t feel as good as it would have to take first,” Sanders said, “but it feels great and I think I can get better and advance more next time.”
Three Bruin wrestlers, Tyler Marrington, Sam Strom and Adan Brambila, grappled in the JV tournament as well.
Marrington and Strom lost both of their matches but Brambila was able to claim victory in both of his.
Brambila won his first match 14-7 and his second with a pin utilizing the half-nelson.
“It felt great and gave me a lot of confidence,” Brambila said. “My favorite way to pin is with the cradle, but I pinned this guy with the half.”
The Bruins travel for a 6:30 p.m. match on Thursday at South Umpqua High School.