By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The McNary High School varsity wrestling team got a lot of mat time last week, but only one Celt emerged from the fray unscathed.
Junior Wyatt Kessler won all five of his matches in two days.
“What’s made the difference is getting with the best partners and the toughest ones during practices,” said Kessler, who also wrestles with Salem Elite Wrestling Club at Sprague High School.
Kessler said the best match of the bunch was with Afansay Chernishoff of Silverton High School at a tournament Friday, Dec. 11.
“It was good because he was tough and strong and I had to overcome that with technique,” Kessler said. Kessler won by pin in the third round.
McNary won three of five duals at the Silverton Tournament, but it was the two losses that stuck in the craw of Jason Ebbs, McNary head coach.
“We lost to Mountain View and Cascade (high schools). Both of them had solid programs, but we lost and I didn’t think that was going to happen. Both those teams also lost to Silverton and I thought we were going to have some trouble with them, too, but we got the win,” Ebbs said.
After the losses, Ebbs pulled the team aside for a pep talk and McNary won the Silverton match 42-37.
“The lesson we got was just to raise our expectations. We have to stop asking ourselves if we can compete and just go out there and start listening to our hearts,” Ebbs said.
McNary junior Sean Burrows said his Silverton match was the highlight of the week. He won by pin in the first round. Burrows said a refreshed mental approach has seen him through this season after a rough sophomore year.
“I’m more prepared mentally to go out a little more at-ease and ready to do my thing. It was a lot of time spent just trying to stop dogging myself, but there’s also been a lot of help from my teammates who are looking to me and believing I can do it,” Burrows said.
Other winners in the Silverton match were: Jerry Martinez by pin in the second round; Brayden Ebbs by pin in the first round; Drake Repp by pin in the first round; Kyle Bonn by pin in the second round; and Joey Kibbey by forfeit.
McNary lost the Cascade match 47-27. McNary match winners were: Kibbey by pin; Burrows by major decision; Jon Phelps by pin; Kessler by technical fall; and Brooke Burrows by pin.
The Celtics lost to Mountain View 38-31. McNary winners were: Tony Castaneda by decision; B. Ebbs by major decision; Kessler by decision; Drake Repp by pin in the third round; Isaiah Putnam by pin in the second round; and B. Burrows in a 4-2 decision.
The Celtics also beat Parkrose High School 46-21 and Wilson High School 69-6 at the tournament.
The night before the tournament, the Celtics hosted South Salem High School in a dual meet and emerged victorious with a final score of 49-28.
A highlight of the night was a match between Blake Gerstner and the Saxons’ Christopher Bledsoe, said J. Ebbs.
“Bledsoe is one of their better wrestlers and it was one of our key match-ups looking down the road to the district tournament,” he said.
Other winners for McNary were: B. Burrows by pin in the first round; Castaneda by pin in the first round; Kibbey by forfeit; S. Burrows by pin in the second round; B. Ebbs by pin in the first round; Kessler by major decision; and Putnam by pin in the first round.