Christian Marquez may not yet have a state title, but he did put the rest of the 5A wrestling world on notice for the next couple of years.
The HRV sophomore was the highest finisher among the HRV team at the OSAA state wrestling championships last weekend, taking third at 120 pounds.
Marquez lost only one match in the tournament, the championship semifinal, to No. 1 seed Thaddeus Nelson of Marshfield. Nelson went on to win the state title. Marquez was also the only HRV wrestler remaining in the championship bracket at the start of the second day of the tournament.
The Eagles sent 12 boys and two girls to the tournament. Sophomore Jessica DeHart won her second-straight girls state title, easily besting Emmalynn Lindsey of South Eugene with a second-round pin.
Also placing for the Eagles were junior Andrew DeHart (fourth at 138 pounds) and senior Nick Morgan (fifth at 182 pounds). DeHart went 32 and Morgan 4-2 to battle back to the placing rounds after losing in the quarterfinals.
Peyton Rigert took second at 138 pounds in the girls championship matches, losing via a fall to Heather Atterbury of Central Linn with five seconds left in the match.
Marquez said he was happy with how his tournament went overall, and now plans to come back next year with his eye on a state title.
“That’s been my goal since I was little,” he said. “Since I first started out.”
In the third-place match, Marquez faced off against Columbia River Conference Rival Colton Skeen of Pendleton. The Pendleton wrestler was able to get two quick take-down points off Marquez.
That was the last thing that went right for Skeen. Marquez quickly escaped and within seconds Skeen was on his back and down for the count.
“I don’t think he was expecting that,” Marquez said of the swing in momentum that got him the win by fall in 55 seconds.
In a span of 20 seconds Marquez went from trailing early to being able to raise his hands in triumph.
“Early in the season I had beat him ... I could get out from it; I just knew I had to move and be quick about it and put pressure on him,” Marquez said. “Just keep pressuring in to him and working my technique and my moves”
It was the second time in a week Marquez had beat the Pendleton wrestler, having defeated him 8-6 in the district semifinals.
“It’s exciting for the future of the program,” Kroll said of being able to have Marquez back for two more years.
On the girls side, Jessica DeHart easily captured her second-straight title, dominating Lindsey for the entire match before getting a pin midway through the second round.
“I put a lot of hard work into it, DeHart said. “I felt confident that I could do it.”
She now has her sights set on four state titles by the time she is done.
With 12 male wrestlers overall and three placers the Eagles managed a seventh-place finish as a team with 66.5 points.
Hermiston won 5A team title with 246 points.
“I’m proud of them,” Kroll said. “I’m proud of how the team came together this year.”
Kroll said he was disappointed for some of his seniors not being able to see their folk-style careers end the way they would want, but added they would now be turning their focus to the spring freestyle and Greco-roman seasons.
“I really like where we are at with the unity of the team, the family feeling of the team,” Kroll said. “We had a group of almost 100 people up their in the stands hanging out and enjoying two days of wrestling and there is a lot of success in that.”
Kroll said he is looking forward to adding more experienced wrestlers through the middle school program in the coming years and has plans on competing for a top-five spot in the state.