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La Grande’s Tyler Isaacson scrambles to get away from Lionel Perez of Weiser in the 126-pound Muilenburg championship match Saturday at La Grande High School. Isaacson lost the match 16-5 for his third straight second-place finish in the tournament. CASEY KELLAS - The Observer
Hardwick wins at 113 to lead La Grande; Staigle leads Enterprise to small-school championship
The La Grande wrestling team nearly pulled out a team win at the 35th annual Muilenburg wrestling tournament Saturday, but instead the Tigers had to settle for second place.
LHS had a slim lead over Weiser in the team scoring heading into the championship matches, but the Wolverines were able to do just enough — including winning two of three head-to-head matches against La Grande wrestlers in title bouts — to pull out a narrow 257-253 victory.
“The kids wrestled really well as a team. All the way around,” coach Klel Carson said.
“It’s amazing you wrestle all weekend and it comes down to a couple points.”
Oregon City finished third (232), Scappoose was fourth (183) and Sam Barlow was fifth (174.5).
Despite a second-place finish, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a successful weekend for the Tigers.
La Grande had five wrestlers make the finals.
La Grande’s Taran Hardwick was the lone Tiger to win his weight class at the Muilenburg wrestling tournament Saturday. He defeated Weiser’s Christian Oyervides in the 113-pound championship match.
Taran Hardwick brought home the lone championship for LHS in maybe the most exciting match of the weekend at 113 pounds.
Hardwick went up against Weiser’s Christian Oyervides and led 6-0 after two rounds.
But with just a minute left in the third round, Oyervides got Hardwick on his back and came close to pinning the sophomore, only to see Hardwick battle him off to hang on for a 6-5 victory.
“It feels good. Really good,” a gassed Hardwick said after the match.
“I was just thinking don’t get pinned. I’ve worked harder than (Oyervides) and I’ve earned it.”
“Taran showed a lot of toughness,” Carson said.
“He fought really hard and didn’t give up.”
Seth DeViney made the championship match at 120 pounds for LHS and found himself going up against Oregon City’s Devin Poppen.
Poppen grabbed a 2-0 lead after the first round and was able to secure a pinfall victory at the 1:29 mark of the second round, leaving DeViney, a sophomore, with a second-place finish.
Tyler Isaacson returned to the championship match for the third straight year at the Muilenburg.
Isaacson finished second at 113 pounds a year ago but wrestled at 126 pounds this year.
The junior faced off with Lionel Perez of Weiser.
Perez was able to control Isaacson and took a 6-1 lead after the first round and stretched it to 12-3 after two.
He eventually went on to win 16-5 to give Isaacson a third-straight second place.
“It was a big weekend for Tyler. He wrestled really well. He just always seems to run into a state champion in the finals,” Carson said.
In the 132-pound title match, La Grande’s Ryan Middleton fell to Oregon City’s Kyle Sether by pinfall with 48.2 seconds to go in the second round.
Sether, who was named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler, held a 9-2 lead after the first round.
Jake Girard wrestled Jake Staniszewski in the 152-pound title match.
Girard trailed 2-0 after the first round and 7-0 after two. Staniszewski led 9-0 in the third round before securing a pinfall victory with 1:24 left in the round to hand Girard the Tigers’ fourth second place of the weekend.
But for La Grande to place five wrestlers in championship matches, it says a lot about the potential of this year’s team.
“It’s a young team but they are really stepping up. I think their confidence is really high and they trust their wrestling,” Carson said.
In the race for the small-school title, Enterprise was able to come out with the tournament victory with 66 points.
The Outlaws were led by Matt Staigle, who was able to pin Bailey Apon of Scappoose for the 195-pound championship.
Staigle secured his pinfall just before the buzzer at the end of the first round.
Other individual winners of the tournament included Mac-Hi’s Jeffery Jones defeating teammate Tavis Hodgen by a 12-4 decision in the 145-pound championship match.
Burns’ Seth Nonnenmacher beat Matt Pedro of Weiser in the 160-pound bout.
Nonnenmacher pinned Pedro with 41.3 seconds left in the third round.
At 170 pounds, Oregon City’s Tanner Fischer beat Cole Haggerty of Sam Barlow by pinfall with 57.1 seconds left in the second round to win the title.
Brayden Moller of Mac-Hi won the 182-pound championship by defeating Scappoose’s Isaiah Goodrich by a 3-1 decision in overtime.
The two wrestlers were tied at one after three rounds.
At 220 pounds, Oregon City’s Michael McCoy defeated Devin Ray of Scappoose by pinfall with 56.6 left in the third round.
And in the heavyweight match, it was Oregon City’s Jake Hagler who defeated Baker’s Tyson Walton by an 8-1 decision to win the coveted Muilenburg belt buckle.
La Grande will return to the mat this weekend at the Tri-State wrestling tournament at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene.