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Wrestling: Cougars send two to state

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Flores-Galvez and McKinley place in top four at districts to advance to state championships in Portland


PHIL HAWKINS - Gervais junior Peter McKinley will make his first trip to the OSAA State Wrestling Championships on Feb. 26 after placing fourth in the 195-pound bracket of the 3A Special District 2 Championships on Saturday.Gervais junior Peter McKinley checked off a huge box Saturday at Scio High School.

The 195-pound wrestler had ambitions to qualify for the state championships entering the Special District 2 tournament last weekend and did so with a fourth-place finish, joining senior teammate Ricardo Flores-Galvez.

The pair will represent Gervais High School on the wrestling mat at Portland Memorial Coliseum for the 2016 State Championships on Feb. 26-27.

“There wasn’t any surprises in the entire tournament for us,” Gervais coach Abel Valdez said. “We expected things to go pretty much the way things went.”

Still, expectations and reality can be two different things, especially for an athlete like McKinley who has never qualified for state.

But Valdez gave credit to McKinley for wrestling a composed and solid five matches over the two-day tournament, advancing to the semifinals on the first day before falling to the No. 1 seed in the district and fighting his way through the consolation side of the bracket to earn the coveted state berth.

McKinley opened with a solid quarterfinal match against Brock Lux of Sherwood, pinning the sophomore in the first round to earn a semifinal match against top-seeded Dillon Robinson of Scio.

The two had wrestled each other earlier in the season, where Robinson quickly dominated the match for an easy victory. The rematch on Saturday still went to Robinson in a second round pin, but McKinley was a much different wrestler this time, Valdez said.

“He wrestled really well against (Robinson),” Valdez said. “Compared to how he wrestled previously in the year…he handled himself very well.”

In the consolation round, McKinley had another tough opponent in Chance Ottinger of Santiam Christian. Ottinger was ranked No. 7 in the state at his weight class, but McKinley had beaten him previously this season and came out with an 11-7 win Saturday, advancing to the third-place match against Dayton’s Josue Martinez.

“It wasn’t as close as the previous week,” Valdez said about the match against Ottinger. “It was still a good match, but every single situation, Peter came out on top. He controlled that match more than I thought he would.”

After a first-round loss to Martinez, McKinley faced Ottinger’s teammate, Dustin Kuhn, for the final berth to state in the bracket and handled his business for a pin in just more than a minute.

“He still had to go in there and execute, and Peter just went to work, controlling the whole thing,” Valdez said.

While McKinley was battling for a spot to state, his teammate Flores-Galvez was hoping to defend his 106-pound district title against a very difficult weight class that features some of the best wrestlers in the state, all concentrated at the district level.

Flores-Galvez advanced to the district finals after a bit of a controversial end in the semifinals to Chance Hendrickson of Harrisburg.

Flores-Galvez had taken an early lead against Hendrickson in the first round, but the Harrisburg wrestler battled back to take a 7-6 lead that he held until the waning seconds of regulation.

As the two were grappling with five seconds left in the match, a whistle sounded on the opposite mat, causing Hendrickson to ease his grip on Flores-Galvez, who broke loose for a one-point escape to tie the match as the clock ended.

While there are rules before a match starts to prevent a false whistle situation like this, Valdez said once the action is live, there is no such rule.

As both wrestlers went to overtime, Flores-Galvez got the early takedown to score a 9-7 victory and advance to the finals.

“There’s no doubt about that, we could have lost that semi,” Valdez said. “It was a great match to watch. Both guys were active. We took control in the first, the Harrisburg kid controlled the second.”

From there, Flores-Galvez lost a 6-4 match to Willamina freshman Jordan Reyes. After getting behind early, Flores-Galvez nearly scored a last-second rally and was in the midst of a two-point takedown that would have tied the score as the buzzer sounded.

“He attacked his legs, got him off balance and Ricardo lands right on top of him as the buzzer sounds,” Valdez said. “The buzzer sounded before he got control.”

Although Flores-Galvez is three years his elder, Reyes comes from an experienced wrestling family and is well-prepared to represent Special District 2’s top seed at the 106-pound weight class, Valdez said.

With the district tournament starting a week early this year, McKinley and Flores-Galvez have an extra week of practice before heading to Portland for the tournament weigh-in on Feb. 25.

“It feels good to have an extra week to have time to work on some things,” Valdez said. “Having a good solid week of practice to work on weight and get a little bit more solid defense.”

Phil Hawkins covers sports and the city of Gervais. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-765-1194.