By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– North Salem had a fantastic Friday and Saturday at the Greater Valley Conference District Meet at West Salem High School despite the low numbered of athletes they put into the District Meet.
But they made the most of it.
Of the 16 who competed, they got five who qualified for the State Tournament in Portland on Febraury 24, 25 as the squad finished third as a unit.
Of those five, three won the District Title.
“This is really the cherry on the season. They were some struggles this season, it was nice to come out and finish off the season with a bang and that’s what we did. Sending five to State, getting seven to place, three champions to boot.
“Also, I think the first in North history when it’s North versus North in the finals.”
Yes that actually happened, in the 113 pound District Title match where Brandon Quezada and Josh Urbina met, and Pickett knew the struggles were there from a coaches perspective.
“It’s awkward trying to coach your kid versus your own kid. But both those kids are studs so they can wrestle without a coach,” said Pickett with a smile.
Quezada would take the match over the senior Urbina by second round pin at the 3:38 mark of the match as Quezada was the first of three District Winners for the Vikings.
In between Quezada’s win and their second District winner was the match of Shannon Glover at 126. You saw the frustrations by the senior who really wanted this District Title post-match by his firey passion off the mat knowing he was better than the 16-4 Major Decision loss to Sprague’s Daniel McClug.
But you know he’ll be back at work at practice here in a few days as he strives for a deep State Tournament run this year.
“I just going to let that anger drive me, working twice as hard in practice. I’m just going to work my butt off and I’ll see him at State,” said Glover.113
Glover’s teammate in Ian Carlos would take the 145 District Title as the sophomore Phenom grappler finally got over the hump this year as he came out strong as he built a 7-2 lead entering the final round in his 13-2 Major Decision over McMinnville’s Michael Abeyta as he looks to continue his trajectory into the State Tournament.
“It feels great,” said Carlos on the victory. “I went out there, not wanting to lose and I went out there knowing I was going to win and I went out there knowing that I was going to work on my stuff and not going to let him control the match.”
Carlos would go on to win Wrestler of the Year as well.
But the kid with the biggest smile on his face as he won the 182 District Title was Jorge Ochoa.
Leading 6-5 in the third period, the junior played defense for much of the period as he tallied two points late as icing on the cake of the 8-5 victory to hand Ochoa the title.
Ochoa credits the big win to his training that Pickett and his coaching staff toss their way on a daily basis with cardio as he got revenge for being so close last year.
“It was hard,” laughed Ochoa. “You know wrestling’s a challenge with a North Salem Wrestler you know? Our conditioning is on top of every wrestling class here. We’re the kings of cardio. Kind of easy, kind of hard. It was fun though.”
“Last year I was close, last year I lost by one point or something and right now I got my revenge. It feels great!.”
The energy around Ochoa following the match was electric, it was hard not to feel excited.
Ochoa, Quezada, Carlos, Glover and Urbina all will represent North Salem High School next weekend in Portland to compete for the State Title in their respective classes.
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