Four Viks advance to state mats

Feb. 13, 2019 — Come Feb. 22, four Viking wrestlers — sophomores Elijah LaCosse and Ryan Jennings, junior Matthew Horrillo and senior Riley Jennings — will be among the state's top wrestlers competing for the title in their respective weight brackets.

All told, six Vikings returned from last weekend’s 4A Special District 2 tournament in Junction City with medals, including sophomores Brady Libby at 120 pounds and Hector Garcia at 160 pounds.

“We really wrestled pretty well,” Siuslaw coach Neil Wartnik said of his underclassmen-dominated team’s performance. “We just don’t have the depth and experience of other schools.”

Though Libby and Garcia were able to medal, they just missed qualifying for state.

LaCosse (126 lbs.) and Horrillo (220 lbs.) each placed third in their divisions, with brothers Ryan (152 lbs.) and Ryan (170 lbs.) Jennings each placing fourth.

LaCosse went 4-1 at the tournament, earning his third-place finish in a dramatic come-from-behind win the consolation semifinals round against Blaise Pindell of Philomath.

Pindell had won the bracket a week earlier at the 29-team Cottage Grove Invitational, where LaCosse didn’t place.

On Saturday, the two faced off for the third-place medal, with Pindell holding a 2-point lead to start the third round.

“Elijah worked hard for an escape with just over a minute left,” said Wartnik.

Then, with 45 seconds remaining, LaCosse changed tactics and out together a complicated takedown sequence and scored a takedown to tie the match. LaCossee was then able to hold Pindell to the mat for the remaining 45 seconds to score the final, match-winning point and third place.

“Elijah worked very hard this week to compete at 126 pounds,” Wartnik said. “His performance at district in that final match was gutsy — the performance of the week.”

Horrillo, Siuslaw’s other third-place finisher, went 3-1 at district, losing a nailbiter in the championship semifinals match when a move went awry with the score tied at 1-1. His opponent was able to score the final point and bump Horrillo into the match for third place.

Horrillo was able to take the bout in overtime to secure third place and a trip to state.

In the 152-lb. division, Ryan Jennings went 3-2 and finished fourth, but qualified for state after winning his wrestleback match.

“That was a special win because Ryan had dislocated his knee a week ago,” said Wartnik. “It wasn't even clear if he would be able to compete at district.”

Riley Jennings went 4-2 at 170 lbs., placing fourth and qualifying for state because he had already defeated the fifth-place wrestler earlier in the tournament — eliminating the need for a wrestleback match.

Wrestleback matches are held when a fourth-place finisher has not beaten the fifth-place finisher earlier in the tournament.

All four wrestlers will return to the mats for the final time this season during the OSAA 4A State Wrestling Tournament at Veterans Memorial Coliseum Feb. 22-23 in Portland.

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