Area athletes claim three titles in Joseph

By Paul Harder, The Observer January 06, 2014 09:26 am

JOSEPH — It was a day for accomplishing goals up in Joseph. Whether it was the pursuit of the championship trophy or the assurance that goals were on the right track, Union and Wallowa county athletes got what they wanted.

It didn’t happen in the team scores at the Jo-Hi Cosgrove-Echler Invitational, with Enterprise/Joseph finishing fifth overall, scoring 118 points. Culver took first with 222 points, while Crane finished second with 154.

Still, Union/Cove and Imbler did bring home top-10 finishes. Imbler finished seventh with 64 points, while Union/Cove took eighth with 59 points.

The success came in the championships. Three local wrestlers took to the mat in the finals, and all three walked away with first in convincing fashion.

Chad Witty of Union/Cove cruised into the finals to take on Peter Baker of Baker City at 170 pounds. The sophomore must have had somewhere to to, because he scored the only first-round win of the championships. Witty used his prior knowledge to seal the win.

“I’ve wrestled him before,” Witty said. “He likes to reach. You have to be prepared for your matches because all it takes is one mistake sometimes, and you can lose. Most of it is mental.”

Witty didn’t make a mistake, and pounced when he saw the opening. Baker reached and was immediately wrapped up when Witty grabbed his ankle, leading to a pin with 48 seconds left in the first round. 

“I went to one of my favorite moves,” Witty said. “It’s pretty safe. I’m just trying to qualify for the state tournament, taking it a match at a time. I want to be the best Union/Cove wrestler in the school’s history.”

Witty took fourth at the state meet as a freshman at 170.

The focus shifted to Enterprise/Joseph’s Matthew Staigle. His match at 195 pounds was more of a family affair. His dad offered some prematch advice, and the last words of his mom were for him to listen to his father.

“He  just told me to relax, and talked about my opponent’s style of wrestling,” Staigle said. “And, what I had in mind for the match actually worked.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever won this. It was pretty cool to do it in front of the home crowd. I always wanted one of the pictures that comes with the medal.” 

It worked well enough for the senior to score a win by fall 41 seconds into the final round against Clay Duckworth of Crane. Staigle already had the match well in hand, leading 7-0 after the first round. 

“This is a great tournament, and a great one to win,” Staigle said. “I’m seeing a bunch of wrestlers from the other side of the state that I don’t usually see. That’s going to help when it’s time for state.”

Wyatt Warnock closed out the night for Enterprise/Joseph at 220 pounds. He won by decision against Michael Casey of Crane 10-3.

Daniel Kolhlepp of Enterprise/Joseph took home a medal for a third-place finish at 285 pounds by defeating Cain Stellings of Imbler by fall. Kyle Roepke (152) and Jared Wilcox (160) took fourth and fifth, respectively.

Elgin was led by Damian Hernandez (126 pounds) and Jaydon McKay (170 pounds), who both finished fifth.

Taylor Tandy of Imbler took third at 220 pounds. Calvin Shaffer (182 pounds) and Justyn Cox (195 pounds) each took fifth. 

Josh Devore (120 pounds) and Riley Sheehy (132 pounds) each took fifth for Union/Cove.