By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Two years ago McKay qualified one wrestler to State, last year it was two.
In 2017, the Scots qualified three: Senior Matt Jarding (160), freshman Zair Ku Beiza (195) and senior Salavador ‘Chava’ Carmago (220).
“The team’s improved obviously,” said Jarding. “My Sophomore year one qualifer, my junior year we had two, now we have three so the program’s getting better.”
Head Coach Troy Thomas seconds that as the youth of the program showed itself during the course of the tournament.
“We had some awesome individual performances that was capped off by some freshman who stepped up,” said Thomas. “Two freshman in Zair Ku Beiza and Anthony Alvarez, they came up and placed for us.
“That shows the youth of this team and we had quiet a few kid here who here was their first District tournament. A little shellshocked a little bit, but they all wrestled really well and we are looking to build upon this for next year.”
Alvarez finished sixth in the 220 weight class following a tough battle versus McMinnville’s Juan Contreas.
Jarding was the highest finisher of the group by finishing second in the 160 pound District Title match to West Albany’s Mitchell Sorte.
In that match the senior found himself tied at three as he tried to climb out of a 6-4 deficit in the third period, but Sorte managed to find a way that most haven’t all season and defeated Jarding 6-4.
You saw how much it hurt the senior as he watched on the remaining matches around him.
“A lot,” he said of the loss. “It hurt a lot.”
Joining the senior is another senior in ‘Chava’ Carmago as he tried to matched the intensity of that of 195 pounder Ku Beiza.
“It’s indescribable. These last two years, since my junior and sophomore years, I didn’t even place those years,” he said. “To come back my senior year, place third and then go to State, it’s crazy.
“I just remember seeing Zair going so hard and I told myself I have to match the intensity and bring another number three home to McKay.”
He did. And after seeing Adam Dryden and Andy Rubio make it to the Big Dance and seeing what it was like last year in person, Carmago made it a mission to get there as a particpant this year and instead of a spectator.
“I remember going to State last year with Andy and Adam and I told myself, ‘that’s where I want to be next year’ and it came true. I’m really excited,” said Caramgo.
As for Zair Ku Beiza? Could this freshman be the second coming of David Rubio and Jarding and add depth to the lineup along with Rubio entering next year? He was showing off his talent and wrestling IQ in what seemed like the match of the day Saturday afternoon.
If football could have defensive slugfest, this would be that equivalent in wrestling as both Ku Beiza and Bobby Chavez of West Albany waited for their shot only to be denied by the other.
Entering overtime, the first 30 second cycle: No winner. Second cycle: no winner. Eventually four 30 second cycles in and a technical violation of locking hands was called on Chavez that gave third-place to the freshman.
First thoughts of the match for Ku Beiza?
“I’m exhausted, I want a nap,” he said with a laugh and a smile. “It was intense as hell, just shooting trying to find a good shot. But at the end, the conditioning prevailed.”
For the frosh, he’s looking forward to what lies ahead in Portland on February 24 and 25 with the competition he’ll be facing.
“I’m really excited actually,” said Ku Beiza. “I’m expecting a lot more energy there. A lot more better people, but the end it’s just to have fun and learn from your experiences.”
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PHOTOS BY JEREMY MCDONALD