The two Brookings-Harbor High School wrestlers remaining in the OSAA 4A State Tournament, Cole Hannan, 138 pounds, and CJ Paxton, 182 pounds, faced a difficult path to find a place on the final podium Saturday night.
Hannan, having lost to the eventual second-place finisher on Friday, had two very talented wrestlers ready to pin him if they could, before he could claim third place in his weight class, while Paxton faced the third seed wrestler of the tournament in his weight class.
Hannan's first match came against freshman Brendan Harkey of Crook County high school. Harkey had defeated his previous opponents by pin before losing to Tyler Cowger -- who had also defeated Hannan -- and dropping into the consolation bracket.
Hannan was hungry for victory though and rolled Harkey all over the mat and back in a 6-2 victory.
"One more match," Hannan said following his defeat of Harkey. "One more match and I've got third."
Hannan kept the intensity levels up as he headed into his final match of the tournament against Stayton senior Shane Shepard.
The bout was a chess match between grand masters as neither wrestler was able to gain much ground.
Shepard scored an escape in the second round, but Hannan, starting on the bottom in the third, was able to score a reverse and keep Shepard from escaping again to win the desired third-place finish.
"It feels awesome," Hannan said. "I've never felt anything as awesome as this, it's just the greatest feeling in my life."
Hannan kept looking at the clock as the seconds ticked to zero and was warned for stalling, but was able to find the will to keep moving forward and not give up any points.
"It was the toughest match by far," Hannan explained. "I was exhausted and excited, but I pushed down and got the win."
In his first match on Saturday morning, Paxton faced senior Garrett Searcy of La Pine who was seeded third for the tournament and lost by pin in the second round. The loss dropped Paxton out of contention for third place but he was able to compete for a medal in the fifth- and sixth-place match.
Paxton dominated Chance Jucutan of Sweet Home, 7-3 in his final match to bring home the fifth place medal.
" It feels pretty good, considering I have never been to state before," Paxton said. "The whole experience has been really fun and I wish I would have come here the last two years."
Hannan and Paxton only have 10 months to wait until they'll have the chance to once again hike the road to the state tournament.
"I'm going to come back next year and place higher," Paxton stated.
"It was fun, I can't wait for next year," Hannan added.