Rohan: Sweet Revenge

By Paul Harder, The Observer March 03, 2014 08:08 am

La Grande’s Cole Rohan holds his opponent during his championship bout at 106 pounds at the Muilenburg Tournament. Rohan picked up a state title for the Tigers Saturday.
La Grande’s Cole Rohan holds his opponent during his championship bout at 106 pounds at the Muilenburg Tournament. Rohan picked up a state title for the Tigers Saturday.
Rohan gets second opportunity against Ontario’s Barrera 

Sometimes taking second isn’t  a bad thing, if you can do it at the right time. Cole Rohan did just that and reaped the rewards the second time around.

The junior from La Grande High School brought home the team’s lone state championship from the Class 4A state wrestling tournament Saturday. 

Just a week before he wrestled junior Francisco Barrera of Ontario at the district tournament, and lost 10-6.

“Francisco is an excellent wrestler,” La Grande head coach Klel Carson said. “He’s a three-time All-American at 113 pounds. He dropped down to 106 because he thought he could win a state championship.”

Rohan made that decision the wrong one. 

Looking at the match on paper, Barrera was the obvious favorite, especially with the district win against Rohan. But that one match, despite being a loss, gave the La Grande wrestler the confidence he needed to take Barrera down.

“Cole went into the district match thinking we could beat Francisco to knowing he could beat him,” Carson said.

Rohan led at the district tournament with 20 seconds to go in the final round. But a split second turned a win into a loss.

“Sometimes that’s all it takes Rohan said. “At the high levels its not always about what your ability is. It’s about the mistakes you or your opponent makes. I just messed up at the end of that match.”

The two wrestlers were on a collision course through the 106-pound bracket. 

“I really wanted that rematch, but I knew there were still going to be some tough ones along the way.”

Both Rohan and Barrera picked up three-point wins by decision in the semifinals to set up the rematch.

Rohan stepped into the championship match as the only Tiger wrestler left standing.

“That added a little more pressure,” Rohan said. “I wrestle for the team as much as I do for myself. They’re always out there to cheer me one, and I wanted to come through for them.”

Just like the district tournament, Rohan went into the third round with a lead. He stuck with the same gameplan that allowed him to take a lead in the district tournament, and that gave him a 3-2 lead with a state title at his fingertips.

“I was just a little more cautious is all,” Rohan said. “He caught me at the end the last time, but I wasn’t going to let that happen again.”

Even after Rohan had his arm raised in victory after the match, and then with the medal being placed around his neck standing in the top spot on the podium, it didn’t quite sink in what had just occurred. Even following a team breakfast before returning back to La Grande, Rohan was finally just wrapping his mind around what he had just accomplished.

“It’s still a blur,” Rohan said. “It’s pretty awesome to think about, and at the same time pretty weird.”

Carson, reflecting on the season, couldn’t be more proud of what Rohan has accomplished this season. In fact he’s hoping the younger wrestlers in the program see the preparation that paved the way to Rohan’s success.

“There’s no secret to what Cole has done,” Carson said. “He was willing to pay the price, and got what he put into it. It’s all about hard work and dedication. He’s been doing it since he got into the program, and he continues to do it even when he’s had success. That’s the biggest thing. There hasn’t been a moment of complacency.”

And, it doesn’t seem like there is going to be any time some. Rohan has one season left in the La Grande program. He’s already itching to get back at it.

“It’s almost time for spring wrestling,” Rohan said. “And that’s followed by summer wrestling. It’s my favorite time of the year. It’s a little more relaxed.”

Although next season it will be Ontario’s Barrera who’s eyeing a possible rematch.