SALEM — Mitchell Sorte knew he was giving up size and strength to his opponent and had no other option but to stay on top.
Anything else could have produced a result he wasn’t happy with and another runner-up district finish.
The West Albany High junior took a 6-4 lead and the top position on McKay’s Matthew Jarding heading into the final period of their 160-pound final in the Greater Valley Conference wrestling championships Saturday at West Salem.
Despite every effort by the top-seeded Jarding to change the situation, Sorte held on to claim the win.
“I had to stay on top,” said Sorte, seeded second. “Once I’m on top I’ve got to keep him down because he was way bigger and stronger than me. I had to use my legs in order to do anything.”
Sorte had no interest in letting his team down.
Three teammates took the mat before him in the finals and lost. He saw that as some extra motivation.
“I wanted to make sure that the team knew the leaders, us four guys, were working hard even though some lost and some won,” Sorte said.
Sorte wrestled at 152 pounds most of the season but permanently moved to 160 about a month ago when he began routinely beating opponents at the higher weight.
The Bulldogs dominated in the consolation rounds and wrapped up second place in the team standings before Saturday’s placing matches.
State power Sprague won seven of the 14 individual titles and finished with 483 points. West Albany was second with 244, 67 ahead of third-place North Salem.
“Second up for grabs amongst two or three teams. We completely ran away with it and it was really neat to see,” said Bulldogs coach Casey Horn, whose team had 12 placers in all. “We came in, we put a good solid tournament together. Every kid on our team made some sort of stride in our tournament this weekend.”
Horn was named the conference’s coach of the year, but he said that award belonged to his entire staff.
The top four placers in each weight class advance to next week’s 6A state tournament, held at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum.
In the 138 final, West’s Sawyer Myres lost a rematch with Sprague’s Michael Murphy.
Ten days earlier, Myres defeated Murphy in a match that reached sudden death. Murphy won Saturday’s match 10-5, after controlling the third and final round.
Myres got an escape early in the third to close within 5-4. But Murphy got a takedown and soon after a nearfall to push his lead to six.
“We both trained our tails off and I just think he mentally got a few edges on me,” said the first-seeded Myres, adding that he’s looking forward to a potential third bout next week.
Added Horn: “I could see them in the finals, semis, wrestling for a state title. Murphy got the best of us tonight. We’ve got to come back, drawing board, and see what we can do the next time.”
Two other West Albany top seeds also lost in the finals.
At 120, Wyatt French fell 11-5 to McNary’s Enrique Vincent after falling behind early.
Vincent got a takedown in the opening seconds of the match. He added an escape and takedown in the third to lead 5-0 and eventually led 9-2.
West’s Chandler Villareal took a 1-0 second-round lead on Sprague’s Landon Davis in the 152 final but couldn’t gain much momentum after that in a 3-2 defeat.
Davis got a takedown in the second and Villareal answered with an escape to forge a 2-2 tie. Davis regained the lead with a third-round escape, and Villareal was unable to score again despite numerous attempts in the final 1:25.
West’s Gregory Sather (106) and Bobby Chavez (195) both placed fourth to also advance to state. Sather came back though the consolation bracket after losing in Saturday’s quarterfinals and Chavez after losing a Friday quarterfinal.