Collins, Wilson win state mat titles

PORTLAND – Malheur County grapplers brought home a pair of state titles Friday, Feb. 23, from the Oregon School Activities Association state wrestling championships at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.

Vale’s Ava Collins claimed back-to-back titles in her 140-pound weight category, tying a Vale High School record set by Tyler Richardson, who won consecutive titles in 2019 and 2020.

Collins said her goal was to win a second title this year after winning last year’s state crown. However, she sprained her MCL after her first tournament of the season, which sidelined her for a couple of weeks. Cleared to wrestle after her injury, she sustained a concussion at her next meet and was benched for another two weeks.

“My season was going a bit rough,” she said.

Once a doctor cleared her to compete, Collins said she began putting in the extra work ahead of the district tournament, where the top four wrestlers in their respective weight classes qualify for the state contest.

The three-hour practices paid off as she won her weight division at the district meet and prevailed at the state tournament.

Collins said this year’s state title was more rewarding than last year’s, given the setbacks she had to overcome. She also faced stiff competition in Friday’s title match. Collins wrestled Ontario senior Hannah Hernandez, a longtime friend and sparring partner.

“Getting to wrestle an opponent as good as her and be a finalist with her was pretty awesome,” she said.

Hernandez, who, for Ontario, took home a second-place state title at 140 pounds, put up a record of 36-6 this season and 100 high school career wins.

Teammates Payton Perry and Jessica William were the runner-ups in their respective 130 and 145-pound weight divisions for the Vale girls wrestling team.

Nyssa’s Kiera DeLeon and Abigail Mardock took third in their respective 120-pound and 125-pound weight divisions.

As a team, Vale girls took 15th overall at the state contest with 60 points, while Nyssa finished 18th with 54. Ontario had 19 team points and finished 57th.

Nyssa’s Ashton Wilson claimed a state title in the 157-pound weight class.

For Vale, Gunnar Tamez finished second in the 138-pound weight category, while Kase Schaffeld took second in the 175-pound weight division. 

Wrestling in the 215-pound weight class, Ontario’s Tommy Ishida took second.

Nyssa scored 65 team points, while Vale scored 55 and Ontario scored 24.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article wrongly identified Collins and the tournament where the photo was taken. The Enterprise regrets the error.

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