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The Observer Paper 12/22/14

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La Grande Mat Club takes first

PORTLAND — Last weekend Parkrose High School in Portland was filled with more than 1,000 wrestlers representing 128 wrestling clubs from around Oregon.

All wrestlers and their teams were vying for the coveted Oregon Kids Wrestling State Championship.

The gym was packed throughout the day with standing-room-only seats through the morning. Video lights and camera flashes reflected throughout the gym. Even a non-wrestling fan could feel the energy and excitement of the day. While some teams brought as many as 50 wrestlers, the La Grande Mat Club would have 24 wrestlers to do battle. 

As the day went on, it was clear the LGMC wrestlers would not disappoint their fans.

By mid-day, LGMC had broken into the top 10 overall with a strong showing from the intermediate division led by five state placers. Joshua Collins took second, Kai Carson and Ridge Kehr each finished third. Jaxson Leonardbrought home a fourth-place finish, and Mason Wolcott finished sixth. 

By the time the novice division began action La Grande had broken into the top 5 overall. That’s when LGMC turned up the heat. 

Alex Kehr, Blaine Shaw and Tristin Gover all battled their way to the finals for a chance at becoming individual state champions. Headed into the finals, LGMC pulled ahead with a narrow two-point lead in the overall team standings. Alex Kehr and Blaine Shaw finished in second place in the 2014 kids Novice division.

Tristan Gover would take on Alex Werner of Tillamook in the finals for the state championship in the 95 pounds Novice division. After nearly giving up the first takedown of the match, Gover battled back with a “duck-under” takedown to go up 2-0. After the takedown, the wrestlers would fall out-of-bounds to get a re-start in the middle. On the re-start, Gover would narrowly avoid being scored on with reversal points before twisting Werner into a “barbed-wire.” Gover would finish the match then and there with a dominating first-round pin, to become LGMC’s only 2014 Oregon State Champion.

Gover’s finish along with a strong sixth place finish by Bradon Carson would push the La Grande overall team lead to 146-138 over second-place team Salem Elite. 

The day would end with La Grande Mat Club the overall state champions of the Peewee Novice divisions.

In Sunday action, La Grande’s Logan Paustian would battle through an 18-man bracket to earn a third place finish in the Schoolboy division.

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