Randy Robbins

Landen Timeus and Dylan Edwards having been buddies wrestling together for most of their lives.

In grade school, they started grappling as Pee Wees in the Gold Beach Mat Club.

Now, more than a decade later, these two Gold Beach High School friends — both juniors — are joined with another Panther teammate, also a junior, Darryn Bright. The trio will test themselves against all comers this weekend.

The years of dedication come down to this final test. Hopes of becoming Oregon’s best in their respective weight classes hang in the balance. To get there, these lads will hit the pads at the upcoming 3A State Wrestling Championship at the Portland Memorial Coliseum 4 p.m. Saturday.

Tony Timeus, Landen’s dad, drives for UPS. He wears brown shorts as part of his uniform, even on the cold days the south coast has endured lately. Back in the day, he also wore the GBHS Black and Gold wrestling gear as well. Grandpa Terry is 80, but according to Tony, nothing is going to stop the elder Timeus from attending the big match Saturday.

“If he had to ride a riding lawnmower all the way up there (Portland) he would.”

Gold Beach has the chops around the state as one of the premier wrestling powerhouses for decades.

GBHS Head Wrestling Coach Ben Winters has stepped back into the position after a 16-year hiatus. He is joined by longtime wrestling Coach Reed Ringer. The two men are passionate about the sport. Winters explains it this way: “Gold Beach has a history of individual state champions and we wanted to come back in and try and keep that tradition alive.”

Though Winters is modest in assessing the Panthers record, the truth is GBHS has cranked out a steady stream of either state champs or those within shouting distance, year in and year out. The program really came into its own during the reign of the Johnson twins from Agness. During a four-year span, the Panthers dominated the state wrestling scene by netting seven state championships. Last year, Jade Piper, claimed the top of the podium in the female division.

The 2019 Panthers just finished up at the Special District 3A Wrestling Tournament in Rogue River.

Timeus pinned his opponent, Wyatt Patzke, of Lakeview in a mere 46 seconds. It is Landen’s second consecutive first-place finish at district.

But like one of the lines in the old Ringo Starr song “You know it don’t come easy.”

Last year, Timeus had the misfortune of cutting off the tip of his pinkie finger in a wood shop accident a mere four days before the tournament. After debating whether or not he could come back from the injury to compete, according to dad it was his call but Times decided to “suck it up and go for it.” He would eventually finish third at state, setting the stage for year at the 138-pound level.

Dylan Edwards (126 lbs.) and Darren Bright (195 lbs.) both posted second-place finishes at district and are looking to up their game at state. Gold Beach finished eighth as a team out of 13 teams represented there and all three want to bring their best come Saturday,

Winters says it really all comes down to attitude and preparation in the final analysis.

“These guys have a high level of commitment and desire to wrestle... in the end, it depends on who you draw, how you wrestle that day, and who shows up with their shoes tied.”

The longtime devotee to coaching makes this assessment on his team’s chances in Portland:

“Our guys are good enough to hold their own with anybody in the state, we’ll see where it goes from there.”