December 16, 2013 10:30 am

The third time was a charm for La Grande junior Cole Rohan. 

Rohan took center stage underneath the spotlight at the Muilenburg for the second straight season; he finished third as a freshman. This time, Rohan wouldn’t be denied one of the championship belt buckles.

“Not winning the last couple of seasons drove me to work harder,” Rohan said. “I really wanted to be able to bring it home this season.”

It was also a pivotal match in the team standings in the finals. La Grande held a 22-point lead over Scappoose, and Rohan would take on Braxton Sue of Scappoose in the finals.

“I wasn’t thinking about the team race too much,” Rohan said.

The home crowd didn’t wait long to have something to cheer about, as Rohan made a shoot after the two wrestlers traded head slaps for the first 40 seconds. Rohan lunged and quickly got Sue onto his back for a quick four-point swing.

“It makes things so much easier when you score first,” Rohan said. “It takes the pressure off, and you know that you scored once and can do it again. It just came down to picking the right spot to try and score.”

Sue made a strong run in the second round, scoring a take down and nearfall of his own, securing a 5-4 lead. The Scappoose sophomore looked poised to take that lead into the final round, but Rohan had other plans.

“Sometimes you can catch people off guard right before the end of a round,” Rohan said. 

He did just that, scoring a two-point reversal with five seconds left in the second round, grabbing a 6-5 lead. Rohan created more space with another take down to open the third round, and kept that space for a 10-7 decision.

“It’s a great feeling to final accomplish this goal,” Rohan said. “This is one of those tournaments as a La Grande wrestler you want to win.”

The road to the finals started off in perfect fashion, with two pin-fall wins to open the tournament at 106 pounds. He defeated Grant Harris of Pullman, Wash., with nine second left in the first round. In round two, Rohan sped up the process, pinning Jesse Harmon of Baker in 50 seconds. 

“It’s an advantage to get out of the opening rounds as quick as possible,” Rohan said. “It’s a long two days, and if you can conserve a little energy it helps.”

He needed the little extra stored energy because the next three matches went into the third round. Pine Eagle’s Blake Butler went down by technical fall, 16-1. Then Rohan advanced to the finals with a 5-0 win against Caldwell’s Brendon Runnels.

Now, it’s time for Rohan to shift gears and think about the rest of the season, which he has. With several more big tournaments left before the beginning of the postseason, Rohan has now moved on to other goals. He’s hoping to build on this tournament, and looking at a stronger finish at the end of the season.

“This is nice,” Rohan said. “It’s one of those goals you set. But, now it’s time to start building toward the state tournament, which is the ultimate goal. It’s been what drives me through the summer and into this season.”

Rohan dropped his opening match at the Class 4A state meet last season. He then bounced back to win consecutive matches.

“We’ll see what happens,” Rohan said. “But, this is a great start. The hard work will keep on going through the rest of the season.”