CJ Paxton returns his opponent to the mat during Friday's state tournament. Paxton won 5-3 in overtime. The Pilot/Jef Hatch
The last month of the 2011-2012 Brookings-Harbor High School wrestling season has been all about percentages; the Bruins took 11 wrestlers to the district tournament. Of those, 73 percent placed in the top four and qualified to advance to the regional tournament. Of the eight wrestlers at the regional tournament, three, 38 percent, placed in the top four to move on to the OSAA 4A State Wrestling Tournament.
And Friday, in the first round of championship wrestling, all three, 100 percent, of those wrestlers – Cole Hannan, 138 pounds, CJ Paxton, 182 pounds and Isaac Sanders, 220 pounds – advanced one takedown closer to their ultimate goal: a championship title.
Unfortunately for all three of them, the second set of matches would bump them out of first-place contention and set them up to have to wrestle once more Friday night before they could be sure of a chance to compete for third place.
Opening the spate of victories for the Bruins, Hannan tech-falled his opponent, Joshua O’Brien of Sisters, with a score of 16-1 in the 22 second of the third round.
“It feels good,” Hannan said. “It feels good to get that first win, get the jitters out and get ready for the second one.”
Hannan faced Tyler Cowger of Sweet Home in his second-round match and was pinned in the second round.
“Cowger just took Cole out of his game plan,” Head Coach Dave Freeman said. “He is super strong and was able to wrench on Cole to pin him and Cole just couldn’t over power him on the ground.”
Cowger was a second-place finisher in last year’s tournament and is currently ranked third in the state of Oregon. Hannan is ranked sixth.
Hannan didn’t let the loss deter him from setting new goals though. “I’m just going to come back and take third,” he explained.
Hannan made a positive move towards that goal when he defeated Calvin Tillery of Henley, 11-6.
Hannan controlled the match and only gave up one take down to Tillery when he, “got heavy on his feet,” according to Freeman.
Hannan defeated Tillery in his second match at the regional tournament last Saturday, and modified his game plan to overcome Tillery’s tactics.
Hannan will face Spencer Bradford of Estacada at 8:51 a.m. today (Feb. 25).
Paxton, a junior, took his first match into overtime before claiming victory. His opponent, Gunnar Robirts of Crook County, proved to be a formidable opponent, matching Paxton move for move, forcing a 3-3 tie into a fourth, sudden-death, round.
Paxton had a two-point lead with just 10 seconds left in the third round but was taken down by Robirts as he tried to stall out to win the match.
“I was just super tired,” Paxton said. “I could hardly move, but I got the win.”
In the one-minute overtime round Robirts attempted to take Paxton to the ground, but Paxton was able to maneuver behind him to claim the take down and the two-point victory, 5-3.
“It feels good,” Paxton said. “Now I can sit back and rest a little bit to get ready for my next match.”
Paxton wrestled top-seeded Cody Crawford of Cascade in his second match of the day, and was pinned 41 seconds into the round.
“I kind of expected that,” Paxton said immediately following the match. “That guy was really good.”
Paxton finished out the night defeating Taylor Hodgen of McLoughlin with a 5-2 decision.
“I got that one escape in the second round for my first point,” Paxton said, “and then I got a takedown with just three seconds left. That was pretty awesome.”
Paxton will face Billy Prince of Tillamook in today’s (Feb. 25) opening session at 9:12 a.m.
The final Bruin wrestler in the sequence of three, Sanders controlled his opening match from first whistle to last, and won 10-5.
Facing Kyle Douglas of Banks, Sanders looked for openings all through the first round but wasn’t able to score until the second when he was able to get a reversal to end up on top. Sanders never relinquished control after that.
“I feel great that I won,” Sanders said, “but I don’t think that I wrestled very well. “
Sanders took on Andrew Piper of Elmira in his second match, and was ahead 4-1 as the third and final round began.
Sanders chose down and Piper reacted quickly off the whistle, rolled Sanders to his back and pinned him.
“We figured we could start down, burn some of the clock and be OK,” Assistant Coach Ramon Nunez said. “I guess we should have started them both up, Isaac was handling that guy really well and kept taking him down, but he (Piper) started with that weird stance and the next thing we knew it was over.”
Freeman questioned the referee on the starting position, but the ruling was upheld and the match was over.
Sanders capped a night of 2-1 finishes for the Bruin wrestlers with a victory over Cody Small of Cascade. Sanders defeated Small 8-4, utilizing his ability to stop Small’s takedowns and throw his own for points.
“I’m really excited,” Sanders said following the match. “To be here my senior year, it’s just awesome.”
Sanders will wrestle Trevor Derra of Mazama at 9:26 a.m. The two have faced before, just a week ago at the regional tournament. The match at the regional tourney went into four overtimes and according to Sanders, he’s hoping that it doesn’t go that long this time.