By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
McNary High School’s varsity wrestling team will have two no. 1 seeds headed into the wrestling district meet Friday, Feb. 20.
The event gets underway at 10 a.m. at Sprague High School in Salem.
The two wrestlers entering the tournament as top seeds are at opposite ends of the spectrum wrestling-wise. Senior Alvarro Venegas will go in as the top-ranked wrestler in the Greater Valley Conference – and the state -– at 195 pounds. Freshman Brayden Ebbs is the district’s top-ranked wrestler at 120 pounds.
Venegas, who has dropped about 30 pounds since his freshman year and sculpted what remained, has been waiting for this moment for a long time. His record this season is 42-1.
“I feel like everything I’ve done has paid off. If I keep following in the footsteps of the other wrestlers, I can win it and it’s something I really want,” Venegas said. “I also want as many other guys going to state with me as we can manage. Brayden is going to be a district champ and Wyatt Kessler has a great shot.”
Ebbs’s journey to this tournament started well before he became a member of the varsity ranks at McNary, as a longtime member of the Celtic Mat Club.
“From the beginning of the year, my goal was to be the best. I’m pretty sure … I wanted .. I know I’m going to win this title,” Ebbs said.
He’d like it to come down to a finals match between him and either Trent Martinez, of Sprague, or Christian Guerrra, of Forest Grove High School.
“They’ve both beat me this season and I’ve beaten them. I don’t want to leave any tournament with the other guy having a better record than me,” Ebbs said.
Celt Jonathon Phelps will enter the tournament as a second seed. His brother, Michael Phelps, is seeded third. Several other Celts round out the top five spots headed into the district tourney.
“We’ve got some good seedings and kids in position to exceed their seeds and do a good job,” said McNary Head Coach Jason Ebbs, father of Brayden. “Every one of them is going to have to win one or two tough matches. That’s what it will come down to. This week all the small lifestyle things like managing weight and getting sleep will matter.”
In their final dual meet matches Thursday, Feb. 12, the Celtics beat Sprague 39-30 and Forest Grove 55-17.
Match winners against Forest Grove were: Ebbs, the younger one, decision 4-2; Sean Burrows, pin in 3:09; Carlos Vincent, major decision 18-8; Ryan Edsall, pin in five seconds; Gage Mance, pin in 1:17; Taran Purkey, pin in 59 seconds; Venegas, pin in 1:56; and Kyle Bonn, pin in 5:11.
Versus the Olys, match winners were: Joey Kibbey, pin in 4:52; Riley Repp, decision 6-0; Ebbs, decision 6-4; J. Phelps, decision 5-0; Vincent, decision 16-11; Purkey, pin in 1:17; and Venegas, pin in 1:51.