Vik wrestlers finish in middle of pack at 42-team meet


 Dec. 19, 2018 — If you want to get a feel for what it's like at the state wrestling meet before state competition in February, look no further than the Grants Pass Winter Kickoff, where Siuslaw took to the mats over the weekend.

With 42 teams from multiple divisions wrestling over a period of two days (Dec. 14-15), it's about as close to the state meet atmosphere as you can get without actually competing for a state medal.

"We had a great team performance at the Grants Pass Kickoff," said Siuslaw coach Neil Wartnik, whose underclassmen-dominated team turned in a series of outstanding matches en route to claiming 20th out of 42 schools.

Though Siuslaw struggled in the beginning after losing its first seven matches, the Vikings came roaring back to win their next six out of eight matches — three of them by pin from wrestlers Elijah LaCosse (138 lbs.), Matthew Horrillo (285 lbs.) and Bailey Overton (128 lbs.)

Horrillo also turned in what Wartnik described as “one of the most exciting matches of my career,” in a a rare Ultimate Overtime win. The Viking junior lost his first matches but went on to win his next four, including the dramatic bout against Devin Crenshaw of North Medford. 

After ending in a 1-1 tie following the first three rounds, the match moved into overtime.

And another overtime.

And yet another with a 2-2 tie in triple overtime. The next round was a rare 30-second Ultimate Overtime round. Horrillo chose the top position, which meant that winning would require him to keep Crenshaw from escaping or scoring a reversal for 30 seconds.

Twice in the match in earlier rounds, Horrillo had been unable to hold his opponent from North Medford for more than 5 seconds.

“It was a bit of a risk, but this time things turned out differently,” said Wartnik, who watched Horrillo keep Crenshaw locked up for the full 30 seconds to score the Ultimate Overtime win.

“It was one of the most exciting matches I have ever coached,” Wartnik said.

The win advanced Horrillo into consolation for third place, where he lost by fall to Oscar Alterberry of Sheldon in 4:51 to place fourth overall at 4-2.

“Matthew did an amazing job,” said Wartnik. “None of his matches were easy and he probably gave away 30 to 50 pounds to every person he wrestled.”

Other standout performances at last weekend’s invitational included senior Riley Jennings, who nabbed three consecutive wins at 170 lbs. after losing his first match, coming from behind in his fifth-place match to win it 7-4.

Though LaCosse didn’t place at 138 lbs., Wartnik said the sophomore, “showed marked growth from the first two tournaments of the year,” as did Horrillo and Jennings.

In the girls’ division, freshman Hayden Muller had three pins at 135 lbs., earning third place.

“She showed tremendous improvement from match to match,” Wartnik said of Muller. “Her positioning and technical skills looked entirely different in her final match than they did in her first match.

“Her ability to learn and listen is impressive.”

Overton, Muller’s freshman teammate, placed fifth at 120 lbs., with junior Kinga Bugajska also placing fifth, at 145 lbs., to help the Lady Vikings team secure 13th out of 46 teams.

Last night, Siuslaw was on the mats for a three-way dual meet for the Central Coast Challenge at North Bend (after press deadlines.)

The Viks will take a short break before returning to the mats on Jan. 5 at the Bend Invitational.

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