The Gold Beach wrestling team had a rough-looking season this year with a small roster and the loss of their head coach midway through. But adversities didn’t faze these Panthers athletes as they took the OSAA Championship Wrestling Tournament by storm.
Senior Jade Piper took the state championship title with first place in the Women’s 180 bracket, while sophomores Landon Timeus and Tandy Martin took third in the Mens 2A/1A 145 bracket and 2A/1A Mens 126 bracket, respectively.
Nathan Gilbert also competed but did not place, and Dylan Edwards would have qualified but was unable to participate due to an injury.
“We usually only have a few kids, but the kids we have are always pretty good. We do what we can and usually end up doing pretty well,” said returning coach Ben Winters, who took over running the team with Reed Ringer after the previous coach resigned.
Winters said he was abruptly contacted to coach the team again after 16 years and, after some consideration, decided to return to at least wrap up this season. He said he and Ringer are unsure if they’ll return next year and that it depends on who else might be found to coach.
“We weren’t gonna leave the kids hanging out to dry,” said Winters. “So that’s why I decided to come back after so long.”
Timmer Turner also coached on the team acting as Piper’s personal women’s coach throughout the season as she participated in several women’s tournaments across Oregon. Turner and Winters both helped guide her through the final rounds of the state tournament.
“She’s one of the better technicians I’ve ever coached,” said Winters. “Her parents were very supportive and were really happy, which is really what makes it all worth it.”
Piper had been interested in wrestling since she started elementary school. Her parents were reluctant to allow her to participate at first, but eventually allowed her to give it a try, thinking it would just be a faze.
“She always been an amazing wrestler,” Piper’s mother Jennifer said. “For three years she begged us and we didn’t want to let her wrestle because she was a girl. We didn’t think it was appropriate. What changed our minds was when my cousin brought me an article about the state champion that listed all these scholarships she’d received.”
Now after 10 years, Jade’s parents can hardly argue with the results. She has a state championship under her belt and the scholarship opportunities it brings with it. According to Jennifer, Jade is undecided as to whether or not she’ll pursue wrestling in college, and is waiting to see how her final high school softball season pans out before deciding.