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Oregon high school wrestling notebook: 4 ironmen shake off opening loss; girls field could grow in 2025

10 wrestlers become their program's first state champion

Every year at the OSAA wrestling state championships, hundreds of wrestlers lose their opening match in the Class 6A, 5A and 4A tournaments. 

Of those wrestlers, a lucky few shrug off the disappointment of that opening defeat, grind their way through the consolation bracket to win five or six matches and win the third-place medal.

Last weekend at Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum, four ironmen accomplished the feat, with two getting the chance to avenge that first defeat in the medal round.

Bend junior 190-pounder Uriel Valdez not only got that opportunity, but he had to do so at the end of a long day. Because of a quirk in the schedule, Valdez wrestled only twice on the first day of the Class 5A meet, meaning he had to win four matches in about a six-hour window. 

“I wanted to get a medal,” he said. “If I can’t get first, I’ve got to get third.” 

Uriel Valdez Bend photo Taylor Balkom

Valdez credited his parents with quickly getting over his loss to Hillsboro’s Gregory Wallace by first-round pin.

“They kind of yelled at me, and I’m like, ‘OK, I’ve gotta switch it. I’ve gotta go hard.’ It was my third time here, and I was sick of not placing.” 

He came back to record four consecutive pins to work his way to the third-place match. Awaiting him was Wallace, who lost in the quarterfinals and battled his way through the bracket. 

“It was wonderful because I got my get-back,” Valdez said after pinning Wallace 39 seconds into the second round to secure the third-place medal. “I had to let him know that I was better; to show that I put in more work than him, and that he got lucky.”

Sweet Home junior Dylan Sharp (4A 215) also avenged his opening defeat, coming back to pin La Grande freshman Dex Dunlap in the medal round.

The other ironmen were Central junior Gabriel Haines (5A 285) and Baker/Powder Valley senior Riley Martin (4A 150). 

Nelson’s Macon among 10 to win first state title for their programs

Dominic Macon’s dramatic victory in the 6A 285-pound final Saturday night not only put a fitting end to the three-day championship tournament

Macon also became the first Nelson wrestler to medal at the state meet — and one of 10 to become their program’s first champion. 

In all, 20 schools had their first wrestlers make the podium, and two schools had lengthy medal-less streaks end. Lake Oswego junior Lusiano Lopez’s victory in the 6A 215 final was the school’s first podium finish since 2018, and North Douglas/Yoncalla sophomore Jaycen Marois took fourth at 2A/1A 144 to become the Warriors’ first medalist since 2010. 

Small-school girls tournament could become even bigger next season

Eighteen of the 20 programs to have first-time medalists took part in the girls tournaments, exemplifying the immense growth in the sport statewide.

And starting next year, we could see more growth in the state tournaments. The OSAA plans to recommend that the 4A/3A/2A/1A division be broken into three special districts, each receiving four berths.

That would expand the bracket to 12 wrestlers, matching the 6A/5A tournament, and six would make the medals podium. The proposal will go before the State Championship Committee this spring. 

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

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

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


Photos by Taylor Balkom