Viking wrestling duo claim state titles

PORTLAND — The Vale girls wrestling team brought home a pair of state titles from the Oregon OSAA state wrestling championships at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland this weekend.

Vale’s Ava Collins, a junior, won the 140-pound state championship, while Jessica Williams, a junior, won the 145-weight class.

Collins, 28-0, pinned Hidden Valley’s Megan Peterson in less than five minutes in the first-place match.

Then, Williams, 26-11, bested La Pine’s Riley Allison in a 9-2 decision. Williams, who had faced Allison twice before and lost, said she was determined not to lose a third time.

And when the referee raised her hand as the winner, Williams said the experience felt “unreal.” “When I won,” Williams said, “I thought that, as soon as my hand was raised, ‘I just became a state champ.’”

Williams said her goal heading into Saturday’s contest was to finish the competition within the top six places in her weight division. She said she made a deal with her mother that she could get a tattoo if she did. Williams said she immediately reminded her mother of their agreement after winning the title match.

“The first thing I said when I got off the mat,” Williams said, “’was that I get a tattoo.”

For her part, Collins said while she typically does not get nervous before wrestling tournaments, competing at the state tourney is another mindset. “When I am wrestling some of the best girls in the state, it’s pretty nerve-wracking,” Collins said.

She said her opponent was aggressive in the early going, but she ended up pinning her in the third round. “She was definitely tough,” Collins said. Winning the state title, Collins said, was a proud moment. “When I got off the mat, I could not stop smiling,” Collins said. “I was happy to make my coaches and my parents proud.”

In a Monday, Feb. 27 interview, Dirk Cleaver, Vale girls wrestling coach, said the community should be proud of Collins and Williams’ state titles. Their championships “are just a great accomplishment,” Cleaver said. “Not many girls have the ability to (win a state championship) and these girls worked their butts off to get to that level.”

Ontario’s Hannah Hernandez, a junior, took home a second-place state title in the 135-pound weight class this weekend. Hernandez pinned Baker/Powder Valley’s McKay Anderson in just over five minutes in the semifinal match before losing to Sariah Zepeda of Gervais High School in the final round of the competition in a 4-1 decision.

Adrian’s Chase Andrade, a senior, and Nyssa’s Jesse Aragon, a senior, each brought home a third-place trophy in their 182- and 285-weight divisions. Meanwhile, Vale’s Kase Schaffeld, a sophomore, placed sixth in his 160-pound weight division.

Nyssa sophomores Leroy Phillips-Yale and William Savage each took sixth wrestling in their 126- and 138-weight classes.

As a team, the Vale girls squad placed fifth overall out of 46 1A-4A schools, scoring 46 points, while 3A Nyssa and Vale boys finished tenth and 25th out of 33 teams with 46 and 11 points, respectively. The Ontario boys, a 4A school, finished 20th out of 26 teams, with 23 points, while the Lady Tigers finished 22nd with 16 points. Adrian finished 23rd out of 30 2A/1A schools as a team with 15 points.

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