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By René Ferrán | Photos by Leon Neuschwander

Michael Miller’s road to winning a third Class 2A/1A wrestling state championship took an ugly turn over the summer. 

The Illinois Valley junior broke a femur, requiring a lengthy surgery that inserted metal plates into the leg. His doctors weren’t sure whether he’d be able to return in time to remain on track to become the school’s first four-time state champion.

“It was a long recovery,” Miller said Friday night after beating teammate James Conn 7-5 in the 106-pound final at Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum. “But I got back in there and got it done. That’s all that matters.” 

Michael Miller Illinois Valley Leon Neuschwander 1

Conn grabbed a 5-4 lead early in the third period when he scored a reversal after starting the round in the down position.

Miller quickly escaped, then shot in and took Conn down with a minute remaining.

“I love James, but when you’re wrestling, he’s not your friend, he’s not your teammate,” Miller said. “I did what I had to do, and I’m just happy it’s over.”

While it hadn’t hit Miller yet that he was three-fourths of the way to becoming the first 2A/1A four-time champion since Culver’s Lorenzo Vasquez (2016-19), another thought crossed his mind. 

“I just hope my win contributed to our state title,” he said.

3A: Youth was served in the final as Glide freshman Carter Dawson took down La Pine senior Tyson Flack with six seconds remaining and scored three near-fall points to secure a 6-2 victory over the Reser’s Tournament of Champions winner. Dawson’s twin brother, Drew, defeated Flack’s younger brother, Riley, in the third-place match.

4A: Junior top seed Bryce Haltiner of Tillamook romped to his first title, pinning his final three opponents — including Crook County freshman Chance Yancey in the second round of the final. La Grande freshman Bragen Anderson battled through the consolation bracket after losing to Haltiner in Round 1, winning five matches to place third. 

4A/3A/2A/1A Girls: Oakridge’s Vanessa Keller won an all-freshman final by pinning top seed Kiya Roe of Knappa in 1:29. 

Meet the champions: Class 6A | Class 5A | Class 4A | Class 3A | Class 2A/1A | Class 6A/5A Girls | Class 4A/3A/2A/1A Girls

Vote for best wrestler: Class 6A | Class 5A | Class 4A | Class 3A | Class 2A/1A | Class 6A/5A Girls | Class 4A/3A/2A/1A Girls

Photos of championship matches: Class 6A, 5A | Class 6A/5A Girls | Class 4A, 3A, 2A/1A, 4A/3A/2A/1A Girls

Wrestlers to watch at state: Freshmen | Sophomores | Juniors | Seniors

Previewing the state meets: 6A | 5A | 4A | 3A | 2A/1A | 6A/5A Girls | 4A/3A/2A/1A Girls

Recapping the district meets: 6A | 5A | 4A | 3A | 2A/1A | Girls