Thirteen visiting teams showed up to the Eagle Point Invitational wrestling tournament on Saturday, Jan. 19, and the wrestlers in the royal blue and gold singlets beat every one of them. The Eagles took first place, with a team score of 310.5 points. North Medford came in second with 267.5 team points, and Klamath Union collected 207 points for a third place team finish. Ashland finished in seventh place with 82.5 points.
Head coach for the Eagles, Kacey McNulty said, “It’s always fun winning a tournament. We had some good performances, and some gutty efforts from the kids.”
Eight of the Eagle Point wrestlers made it to the finals, four of which got to wrestle a teammate in the championship match. At 126 lbs., Eddie Perez-Rivera beat Levi Pomeroy in a close 4-3 decision. The score was tied going into the third period, and the choice went to Perez-Rivera, who wisely picked bottom and won by an escape.
Also at 126 lbs., Orlando DeLaCruz tied for third place with T.J. Hooks from Ashland— but only because the five-match rule prevented Hooks from wrestling. DeLaCruz had already pinned Hooks earlier that day.
Then, at 132 lbs., Alek Callahan claimed another close 4-1 decision over Taylor Mitchell. Coach McNulty, while not in a position to show any preference between two of his wrestlers, simply expressed a happiness to see them all succeed.
“Whoever wins, wins,” McNulty said. “It just makes them better. They’ll go beat each other up in the wrestling room on Monday.”
Mikey Johnson (106 lbs.) took second place after pinning one opponent, and winning a 14-0 major decision over another. Thane Baumer (152 lbs.) finished second as well, pinning his first opponent and getting major decisions over two others on his way to the finals. Hunter Hoeptner (160 lbs.) won his first two matches by a fall, and a decision, before taking first place in the championship round by a 13-4 major decision over Caeman Nicholas. Johnny Wilkerson (182 lbs.) was sticking folks all day. Wilkerson pinned his first two opponents in the first period, won a semi-finals match by a takedown in overtime, and beat Conner Paxton by a fall in the third period.
Coach McNulty made a special note of Hoeptner’s strong performance in this tournament. “Hunter Hoeptner is just one of those hard nosed, tough kids that doesn’t stop wrestling. He beat two tough kids to be in the finals,” McNulty said.
McNulty went on to praise Wilkerson’s technical skill as a wrestler, saying “he’s a two-time State placer for a reason.”
Although he only finished fourth in his weight class, freshman wrestler Ryan Lorenz (120 lbs.) deserves credit for his back-and-forth, high-scoring match against Nathan Allemand from Grants Pass High School. Lorenz lost a 19-10 major decision to Allemand. But, coach McNulty reported this as a marked improvement over the last matchup between the two, in which Allemand pinned Lorenz in the first period only three days earlier. This time, Lorenz had Allemand on his back more than once, and the bout could have easily gone the other way. Well done Lorenz!
Eagle Point wrestling has a challenge waiting for them when they face Roseburg High School— recent winners of the 2012 Reser’s Tournament of Champions— in their next dual meet, at home, on Wednesday, Jan. 23.
By Michael Stephens