Viking grapplers get season started

The 2021-22 Siuslaw Viking wrestling team. (Zac Burtt/Siuslaw News)

Siuslaw competes at Cascade

Dec. 10, 2021 — The Siuslaw wrestling team, like its boys basketball team, had what may be a “good problem” to start the season. When the day of the Vikings’ first wrestling meet arrived on Dec. 4, numerous members of the boys team had yet to begin to practice wrestling, as they had just finished a triumphant run to the state football championship.

To open the season on Dec. 1, the Vikings wrestlers who were ready to get on the mat traveled to Cascade High School in Turner for the Perry Burlison Tournament.

No girl wrestlers played football, so besides a few normal bumps and bruises, the girls team was full and ready to go.

The first of two girl champions on the day for the Vikings was senior Bailey Overton at 120 pounds. Overton won all three of her matches, earning 26 points for her team.

Siuslaw coach Neil Wartnick was impressed by her gradual improvement throughout the day.

“Bailey got stronger as the day went on,” said Wartnick. “She had a match early on where she struggled, she was behind, but was able to pull it together.”

By the time she reached the final, Overton was wrestling better than she had all day.

“In the final, she was just sharp,” said Wartnick. “Every move was precision. That was a great, great tournament for her and a great way to open her senior season.”

Also claiming first in her weight division was fellow senior Hayden Muller at 145 pounds. Muller received a bye in the first round and only wrestled two matches, but excelled in both.

“In both of her matches, Muller wrestled very well. She pinned both her opponents,” said Wartnick.

Though Overton and Muller were the only two champions on the girls side, equally impressive were two wrestlers who reached the final in their respective weight classes. What was stunning about their performance was that this was their first time ever competing in a wrestling meet.

Freshman Macali Lade, wrestling at 110 pounds, went 2-1 on the day to finish in second place in her weight class and earned 20 points for her team.

“With the very small amount of training and experience she brought into the tournament, Macali’s performance was incredible,” said Wartnick.

Also wrestling in a meet for the first time was freshman Makayla Freeman at 135 pounds. Freeman went 3-1, finished second and scored 24 points for her team.

“She is just so, so promising,” said Wartnick. “In terms of paying attention, listening, and working on her technique … Makayla’s precision level is outstanding.”

Out of 11 schools, Siuslaw finished fifth. All four of the schools that finished in front of the Vikings have much larger student bodies and sent many more wrestlers, making the result all the more impressive.

The boys team had five entrants, a much lower number than the team will have the rest of the season. Many wrestlers were on the state champion football team and were still recovering from a long and arduous fall season.

Two of the five wrestlers placed: junior Mason Buss at 170 pounds and senior JC Gentry at 285.

Buss went undefeated at 4-0 on the day and won the 170 pound weight class in dramatic fashion — with a high difficulty throw to defeat his opponent in the final. His opponent, Benjamin Rintoul of Scappouse, had Buss in what is called a “single leg.” Buss freed himself to throw Rintoul and pin him to win the match and the tournament.

“That move Mason did was remarkable,” said Wartnick. “Maybe one of the best moves in the whole tournament.”

Gentry also had a great day. He wrestled five matches and went 3-2 and would have wrestled a sixth time if not for a rule that an athlete can only wrestle five matches in a day. Gentry finish sixth on the day and scored 10 points for his team.

The Viking boys, even with many wrestlers recovering from football season, still managed to finish 11th out of 22 teams. While Siuslaw only had five wrestlers competing, no other school ranked above them had less than nine.

The Siuslaw wrestling team is in North Bend this weekend for the North Bend Coast Classic. No spectators are allowed at the meet. Look for coverage in next week’s editions of the Siuslaw News.