MUILENBURG TOURNEY - ELGIN WINS SMALL SCHOOL TITLE
By Pierre LaBossire
Observer Staff Writer
Probably the happiest team at the Oregon Trail-Brian Muilenburg La Grande Breakfast Lions Wrestling Invitational Saturday night was the squad from Elgin.
Thanks to a victory in the next-to-last match of the night, the Elgin Huskies squeaked past Enterprise to win first place in the small school division at the tournament.
Elgin won with 90 team points. Enterprise was second with 83.
"It's a shock," said Elgin head coach Rocky Burgess. "I'm happy. Very happy. It's been a long time since we've won anything. This is going to go a long way toward building up the program."
There were two local division winners. Elgin's Blake Eckstein won the 215-pound division and Enterprise's Jimmy VanBelle won the 189-pound division. They both won the same way with lightning-quick pins in the second rounds of their championship matches.
"Last year, I lost (the Muilenburg title) by one point that made me want it even more this year," said Eckstein.
Eckstein dramatically won his semifinal match against Bret Miller of Burns with a pin in the final eight seconds of the third round. In the finals, he got locked up in a tough battle with Isiaha Sharpe from Skyview (in Nampa). Suddenly, midway through the second round, Eckstein got on top of his opponent and had him pinned within seconds.
"He was pretty strong. I couldn't break him down," Eckstein said. He found a brief opening for his final winning move. "It was a spur of the moment thing, I guess," he said.
Eckstein won a total of four matches this weekend, all by pins.
VanBelle also won with four pins, beating Kory Pratt of Weiser in the championship match. He was leading just 2-0 in the second round when he quickly got Pratt on his back and pinned him.
Enterprise coach Troy Farwell said VanBelle wrestled great all weekend, but that he saved his best for Pratt. "That was a good match. That final match was probably his best of the tournament," said Farwell.
In addition to Eckstein, Elgin got a third-place finish from Chad McDonald, who lost to VanBelle in the 189-pound semifinals. After he was beaten by VanBelle, McDonald went on to win his next match against Justin Williams of Pendleton by a score of 9-6. He won his next match by injury default to finish third.
Elgin also got a fourth-place finish from Codi Burgess at 152 pounds, and a fifth-place finish from Ricky Foster at 171 pounds. Foster had a busy day Saturday, winning four straight matches to take the consolation bracket. Three of those wins were by pin, and one was a tight 7-6 decision over Zach Myers of Imbler.
Enterprise got a fourth-place finish from Austin Himes at 130 pounds, and a fifth-place finish from Collin Cunningham at 145 pounds.
One other local wrestler made it to the finals. Sophomore Jeff Smith of Imbler won four matches in the 171-pound division and he won them the hard way. He only got one pin, and went the distance in his four other matches, winning with scores of 12-6, 7-5 and 4-3, to make it into the finals against Steve Carter of Barlow.
Smith wrestled tough and made it through all three rounds against Carter without being pinned, but ultimately lost the championship match 13-5.
Levi Hug of La Grande finished fourth at 135 pounds. He won three matches, one by pin and the other two by the scores of 3-0 and 11-5.
La Grande finished with 73 team points. Pendleton was the overall tournament winner with 291.5 team points.
Oregon Trail-Brian Muilenburg La Grande Breakfast Lions Invitational
Pendleton 291.5, Nampa (Skyview) 260.5, Weiser 226.5, Burns 203, Barlow 199.5, Mac-Hi 139, Capital 138, Baker 109, Elgin 90 (1st for small schools), Enterprise 83, La Grande 73, Imbler 30, Joseph 24, Union 15, Wallowa 15.
103 1st, John Sayson, Barlow; 2nd, Chase Harberd, Weiser; 3rd, Durk Moore, Pendleton; 4th, Kevin Larson, Burns; Consolation, C.J. Kunkle, Pendleton.
112 1st, Tyler Kilkenny, Pendleton; 2nd, Keaton Nelson, Skyview; 3rd, Petty Webb, Weiser; 4th, Larry Sams, Mac-Hi; Consolation, Dylan Whiting, Skyview.
119 1st, Seth Cox, Pendleton; 2nd, Matt Noble, Weiser; 3rd, Matt Burns, Barlow; 4th, Ross Weatherspoon, Baker; Consolation, Tyrell Watkins, Burns.
125 1st, Talon Vickers, Weiser; 2nd, Jeff Taylor, Barlow; 3rd, Matt Racine, Capital; 4th, Buck Rayborn, Capital; Consolation, Josh Jusino, Barlow.
130 1st, Ben Cate, Burns; 2nd, Justin Carter, Pendleton; 3rd, Bruce Allphin, Barlow; 4th, Austin Himes, Enterprise; Consolation, Jake Atteberry, Weiser.
135 1st, Tanner Hoffman, Burns; 2nd, Derek Mestrovich, Weiser; 3rd, Tim Zimmerman, Pendleton; 4th, Levi Hug, La Grande; Consolation, Jeff Klaassen, Baker.
140 1st, John Schaff, Burns; 2nd, Cody Campbell, Pendleton; 3rd, Erick Johnson, Weiser; 4th, Jesse Velazquez, Mac-Hi; Consolation, Brandon Holzworth, Skyview.
145 1st, Kyle Nelson, Skyview; 2nd, Eric Rayborn, Capital; 3rd, Tim Shipp, Burns; 4th, Casey Arbogast, Pendleton; Consolation, Collin Cunningham, Enterprise.
152 1st, Bobby Bond, Baker; 2nd, Tyler Freeland, Capital; 3rd, Gus Madler, Skyview; 4th, Codi Burgess, Elgin, Consolation, Paul Hollis, Capital.
160 1st, Talon Hofman, Burns; 2nd, Abe Jacobs, Burns; 3rd, Scott Spolar, Capital, 4th, Chris Price, Baker; Consolation, Abe Valadez, Skyview.
171 1st, Steve Carter, Barlow; 2nd, Jeff Smith, Imbler; 3rd, Daniel Johnson, Imbler; 4th, Clay Wunder, Pendleton; Consolation, Ricky Foster, Elgin.
189 1st, Jimmy VanBelle, Enterprise; 2nd, Kory Pratt, Weiser; 3rd, Chad McDonald, Elgin; 4th, Clifton Pease, Mac-Hi; Consolation, Adam Hiaring, Skyview.
215 1st, Blake Eckstein, Elgin; 2nd, Isiaha Sharpe, Skyview; 3rd, Joe Williams, Pendleton; 4th, Zach Pearson, Weiser; Consolation, Luis Palacios, Mac-Hi.
275 Tevita Vasi, Skyview; 2nd, Randy Feigner, Barlow; 3rd, Sean Orr, Pendleton; 4th, Ralph Vandeurs, Mac-Hi; Consolation, Chris Charlo, Mac-Hi.