Crescent Valley and Lebanon each had six wrestlers reach the finals of the Mid-Willamette Conference district tournament on Saturday and the teams combined to win nine titles.
It may have been more but in two of the classes they squared off against each other.
The host Raiders took home five titles while Lebanon had four. However, it was not enough for either to capture the team title.
That honor went to Dallas as the Dragons amassed 367.5 points while Lebanon was second (296) and Crescent Valley third (259).
West Albany (197.5) edged Silverton (190) for fourth while South Albany was seventh (125) and Corvallis ninth (49).
The top four placers in each weight class advanced to the state tournament, set for Feb. 22-23 at Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
Gabe Whisenhunt started the finals with a dominant performance from the first whistle at 106 pounds, picking up a pin over North Salem’s Logan Bashman in 1 minute, 59 seconds.
The freshman said he wanted to start fast and accomplished that goal.
“I was hoping to get my hands on and move him and I was able to do that with my attacks and ended up getting on top of him and finished the match,” Whisenhunt said.
Whisenhunt nearly had to wait to the second period for the pin.
“I thought I was going to get him, he was pretty flat but I know you have to wait a while to call the pin so I was getting a little nervous, but not too bad because I knew it was going to end well,” he said.
Whisenhunt is now 45-3 on the season and is ready to compete at the state tournament in two weeks.
“I’m excited for that,” he said. “That’s what we’ve been working for all year. Can’t wait to get out on the mat again.”
CV senior Kaimana Wa’a picked up the Raiders’ second title with a 10-5 decision over Dallas’ Ashten Brecht at 285.
Wa’a wanted to score as many points as he could and started off with a 4-1 lead.
“I knew it was going to be kind of hard to pin him so I just wanted to wrestle smart, try not to get put on my back and try not to give up as much points as I can,” Wa’a said.
A late takedown in the second period put Wa’a up 6-3 and another takedown in the last 20 seconds of the third sealed the win.
“I was gassed,” Wa’a admitted. “Once I felt he was pressuring forward I decided to (push) his head back. I knew I was strong enough to do it. It was a big relief for me. I was up (five) again and I had to just hold him for eight seconds.”
CV’s Chance Lamer had no trouble with Lebanon’s Rian Howard at 113 pounds, taking a 10-0 lead after the first period. He closed out the district title with a pin at 2:57.
Lamer won the title at 106 last year, while Howard was third at 106.
Lebanon’s Keith Brown avenged two earlier losses to North Salem’s Antonio Garcia, earning a hard-fought 5-3 victory at 220.
Brown took a 2-0 lead after the first period and led 3-1 when he took a shot to the face. He regrouped and took a 5-1 lead before fending Garcia off late for the win.
Wyatt Richardson gave the Warriors their second individual title with a 6-1 victory over CV’s Hunter Eveland at 126.
“I wasn’t expecting it be a blowout, I was expecting it to be a battle,” Richardson said. “If that’s what it comes down to, that’s what it is.”
Richardson, who was third last season at 120, took a 4-1 lead after one quarter and never allowed Eveland to catch up.
He said the end of his sophomore season was a turning point in his career and his motivation to win a district title changed.
“I knew I had the potential but I didn’t quite have the work ethic so I put my mind to it,” he said.
Lebanon’s Joseph Blisseck had a back-and-forth battle at 182, but took home back-to-back district titles with an 11-7 win over Dallas’ Jared Coxen.
It was the fifth time the two had squared off this season, with Blisseck winning three of the previous four.
Blisseck had a 4-1 lead after the first period but fell behind 6-5 before leading 8-6 after two. He was able to put the match away in the third.
“That was probably the best I’ve wrestled all year,” Blisseck said. “I wrestled a lot better than I thought I would wrestle.”
Austin Dalton came up short at 132 pounds as the Lebanon sophomore dropped a 13-4 major decision to Dallas’ Joseph Foster.
Chase Miller was competing in his third district tournament final, but made sure to not earn the dubious hat trick as he finally captured first with a 5-2 win over Dallas’ Bryce Miller at 160.
“It always feels nice taking home a trophy or medal but without my teammates and all my coaches pushing me I don’t think I’d be here,” Miller said.
As Whisenhunt did earlier, fellow CV freshman James Rowley claimed a title in his first district tournament with a pin of Dallas’ Colton Spencer in 3:04 at 145.
While Rowley was aggressive early, the period ended scoreless. But he knew he would have a chance to change that when he started on the bottom. A quick escape and takedown changed the tide.
“I knew bottom was one of my strengths, escaped and then got that pin,” Rowley said. “In the second and third periods I’m just on it. That’s when I score a lot of points.”
Legend Lamer gave the Raiders their fifth title with a dominating 19-3 technical fall over Jacob Jones of Dallas.