The Nyssa wrestling team took home second place in the OSAA Class 3A tournament last weekend at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. The Bulldogs finished with 141 points, behind first-place team La Pine with 150 points. (Photo courtesy of Ed Petersen)

PORTLAND – Local wrestlers made school history Saturday and brought home honors from the OSAA state wrestling championships.

Wrestling in the girls division, Vale freshman Tyler Richardson won the 140-pound state championship, and Nyssa’s Noelle Acosta placed third in the 155-pound class.

Richardson pinned Brookings-Harbor’s Alexandra Contreras in 55 seconds during the semifinals match, then pinned Elena Kroll from Hood River Valley to capture the title.

“I feel pretty good, really sore,” said Richardson. “I was anxious to get (Contreras) out of the way and wrestle Elena.” 

Acosta fell to Grant Union’s Trinity Hutchison during the semifinals, but defeated Bend’s Fatima Albanian 7-6 in the third -place match.

Local boys also were tough on the mats.

In 2A/1A, Cole Kennedy-Gooch – the first Adrian wrestler to make it to state championships in school history – finished in second place in the 220-pound weight class, after falling to Neah-Kah-Nie’s Tristan Bennett during the championship match. 

Meanwhile, in 3A, the Nyssa wrestling team took home silver after La Pine edged the Bulldogs 150-141 to capture its first state crown. The tourney was the Bulldogs’ 12th trip to the state event.

The Bulldogs had two individual state champs: Elijah Cleaver and Jose Sanchez.

Cleaver defeated Rainier’s David Katon 7-0 in the 152-pound finals to win his second state title.

Sanchez won his third state title, pinning La Pine’s Daniel Underwood in the 220-pound finals.

Four more Bulldogs made it to the podium: Adam Simpson placed second at 170; Bryan Flores was third at 195; Raul Ruiz, fourth at 120; and Efrain Caldera, fourth at 113 pounds.

Vale, which finished 17th in 3A, had one wrestler finish in the top three. Clay Siddoway placed third in the 152-pound class, defeating Santiam Christian’s Jason Manzi 8-6.

The 4A Ontario Tigers didn’t have any wrestlers in the finals, but three Tigers got on the podium. Ruben Hernandez took fourth at 132 pounds, and Trey Trejo (126) and Kyle Wulf (132) each placed fifth.

“Defensively, they got after us a bit. They anticipated some of our passing lanes, and they got some easy steals,” said Nelson. “So hat’s off to them. They’re a good team, they fought hard.”

The third period was a defensive clinic by the Bulldogs, pressing and double-teaming the ball, clogging the middle and controlling the board. 

However, the Columbians managed to get past those roadblocks by the fourth quarter, as they slashed Nyssa’s comfortable 10-point lead to just one point in the last three minutes of the game.

Rainier’s uprising in the fourth quarter may have rattled the Bulldogs’ defense. As the Columbians clawed and clobbered their way back, Mills said his Bulldogs got a little “too excited” and lost focus. 

“They needed to settle down a little bit and get back to what got us here,” Mills said.

If the Bulldogs were going to buckle under the pressure of a playoff series against the defending state champions in football, it seemed it would have happened in the last three minutes of this game. 

“I thought we did a good job in the fourth quarter silencing the crowds, rolling our way back to the game, making some effort plays,” said Nelson.

But the Bulldogs didn’t crumble; it was the Columbians who fumbled away one opportunity after another.

Nyssa’s Omar Jaquez was the most sanguine Bulldog regarding his team’s ability or to bear down for every game. 

“We did make a few mistakes, but we got over it and just kept playing hard,” he said, “Everyone got pretty lit up, mad and, at the same time, probably nervous, but we kept our composure and played even harder.”

The Bulldogs found that they could pinch Rainier’s players against the sidelines and disrupt Rainier’s patterns. Even as Rainier drew within three points, the Columbians took consecutive horrible shots. 

With less than five seconds left, Chavez’ free throws put the Columbians away 66-61. 

Now, the Bulldogs match up against Pleasant Hill in the quarterfinals on Thursday play scheduled in Coos Bay.

Reporter Kristine de Leon: [email protected]

Nyssa 220-pound wrestler Jose Sanchez took home his won his third state title after pinning La Pine’s Daniel Underwood in the finals. (Photo by Ed Petersen)

Nyssa 152-pound wrestler Elijah Cleaver won his second state title after defeating Rainier's David Katon 7-0 in the finals. (Photo by Ed Petersen)

Nyssa's Noelle Acosta defeated Bend's Fatima Albanian 7-6 to finish third in the girls' 155-pound division. (Photo by Ed Petersen)

Vale's Tyler Richardson pinned Hood River Valley's Elena Kroll to win the state title in the girls' 140-pound division. (Photo by Ed Petersen)

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