Tigers take second at districts
LHS brings home two district titles by Middleton and Woodworth
LA PINE — La Grande head coach Klel Carson got what every head coach wants — improvement from the program. It has been coming all season long, and the momentum built into a second place finish at the Special District 4 wrestling tournament in La Pine Saturday.
The Tigers finished with a total of 245 team points, with Crook County taking first with 551.5 points.
Last season, La Grande advanced three wrestlers on to the state tournament. The top four placers in each weight division advance from the district tournament. The Tigers had six wrestlers in the finals alone, and will send eight wrestlers to the state tournament at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland Friday.
Ryan Middleton brought home one of the two district titles this season. At 138 pounds Middleton defeated Ryan Shinkle of Crook County by decision 10-9.
“It was one of the most entertaining matches of the night,” Carson said. “I was really proud of how tough he wrestled. He’s been building to this the whole season, and it was great to see the hard work payoff.”
The other title came at 170 pounds courtesy of Caleb Woodworth.
“Caleb really controlled the match from start to finish,” Carson said. “He wrestled one of his best technical matches of the season.”
However, it might be Cole Rohan who is looking forward to the state tournament the most. Rohan was closing in on a title himself at 106 pounds. He led the match late into the third round before Francisco Barrera of Ontario caught Rohan in a head and arm. Barrera went on to win the match 10-6.
“It was a great match,” Carson said. “They split matches during the season, and it’s always tough to lose the way Cole did. “Fortunately, we should see the matchup again at state this week.”
At 120 pounds, Taran Hardwick lost to Kurt Mode of Crook County in the title match by technical fall 18-1. Preston Armstrong took second at 160 pounds. He lost to Brendan Harkey of Crook County by technical fall 18-2. Dylan Reece brought home the final second-place finish. Reece moved up to the heavyweight division. Jason Williams of Crook County caught Reece 1:51 into the match to record a win by fall.
“Dylan made the decision to wrestle up,” Carson said. “It was a smart move. We look forward to seeing what he can do at state.
“It was awesome to see so many guys in the finals this year. “All the time they’ve spent on the mats through the season and the summer has really paid off.”
Quentin Durfee (113 pounds) and Jon Gonzalez (126 pounds) each finished third in their weight classes to advance to the state tournament.
La Grande received another award following tournament. Carson was named the Coach of the Year.
“I don’t think of it as a personal award,” Carson said. “The whole coaching staff shares this with me. They put in a lot of work, and it helped the team get to where it is.”
Walt Anderson, Ted Wilton and Tom Kenny are the assistant coaches on the staff.