The Long Journey To State Champion

By Jeremy McDonald

PORTLAND, Ore.–  David Rubio was driven to get to this point at Veterans Memorial Colliesum Friday morning.

His freshman year saw him a win away from reaching the tournament in his first year ever wrestling.  His great sophomore year was cut short due to injury.

His junior season he came back stronger and better than ever.  He was healthy enough to compete once more and reached the 170 pound District Title match against Sprague’s Landon Davis.  Win-or-lose, Rubio was going dancing two-weeks later in Portland.

Davis went on to win that match in triple-overtime and the second-time in their two meetings this season.

Over the next two weeks, as Rubio healed up and got healthy from a illness, he came out driving.

Day One

Rubio and teammate Bryant Mendoza (113) got a first-round bye  to the tournament.  While Mendoza lost his first match via pin by Kaden Goff of West Linn, Rubio won his first match versus Rourke Martin of Roseburg with a pin.

“Good, I like it 100-percent, I like competing especially on those mats.  Everyone seeing yo wrestle and wrestling tough competition it’s really good,” said Rubio on his first match. “I felt like that was a good warm-up match, I have a pretty tough match next round.  I have to tune-up my technique and wrestle hard for six minutes.”

Bryant Mendoza (left) wrestling during Day 1 of the State Tournament (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Mendoza won his next match in the consolation round before falling again to Goff in the third-round of the consolation bracket to end his sophomore campaign.  But, the experience did help him moving forward.

“This experience is good for me because I’ve never been to a tournament with people who know how to wrestle and keep up with me and I learned a lot,” said Mendoza who went one-and-two in the tournament.  “Just got to come back and work harder.”

To wrap up Day one, Rubio advanced to the 170 pound semi-final round when the top-seed in Taran Floyd of West Linn had to bow out due to injury an 1:08 into the match.

Day Two

While Rubio was warming up, teammate and Girl State Qualifer in Tess Barnett wrestled and lost a tough 4-3 match to Thurston’s Macie Stewart to set up a match-up with Silverton’s Madison Shockley.

Shockley and Barnett have some history as Barnett defeated her in the Girls State Qualifer three weeks ago in Springfield and Shockley needed Barnett to win in order to have a chance to qualify for State due to rules in having two athletes wrestle each other again in the consolation bracket.

Barnett did just that and here we were as the two battled it out for third-and-fourth, Shockley bettered Barnett this time around but Barnett respect Shockley a lot as they go their separate ways after the match.

“It’s cool because I guess we’re kind of friends now because I met her before at the beginning of the season and I seen her at Districts and now I see her again,” said Barnett of the correlation between her and Shockley.

David Rubio (left) wrestling South Medford’s Cole Schumack (right) in the 170 pound match Saturday morning (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Rubio was warming up as Barnett finished up her first match as he slowly pulled away from South Medford’s Cole Schumack 7-2 to become the first McKay wrestler since 2011 to advance to the final stage.

“It was a little nerve racking because if you win that match, you get to the State Finals and if you lose then you have to stay here and go through the blood rounds and wrestle more matches, so a little nerve racking,” said Rubio on the win.

“Last year, Tyler (Thomas) and Chava (Camargo) told me that I’ll be in the State Finals next year and I always kept that to myself in my head everytime I’ve been training and I knew I was going to be here.”

On the mat next to him, going through another triple-overtime match and getting the win, was the Olys Davis; setting up the trilogy rematch for the State Title match.

“Just wrestle,” starts Rubio.  “Just wrestle six hard minutes, eight if it comes down to it.”

He left the McKay base with Tyler Thomas to find something to do to keep his mind away from wrestling and by the eight-, nearly-nine o’clock hour, it was showtime.

In the State Title match, it was as it was in the other two matches:  physical as both look for their shot.  This time, after the six minutes, it was Rubio who end up on top.  3-1 victorious.

“It was amazing, I just need to wrestle six hard minutes,” said an excited Rubio.

Assistant Coach Tyler Thomas, who him and the Scots other Assistant coach Andrew Hillmen, were in Rubio’s corner when he lost to Davis at the District Meet.  This time, Thomas along with brother and Head Coach Troy Thomas, saw the revenge match for both coaches first ever State Titlist.

For Thomas, he knew of the capability of Rubio’s ability to comeback and beat the guy who beat him before as well as Rubio’s ability to be coach-able to help him do so.

“Seeing him become victorious over that, I wasn’t surprised.  I know he has it in him to get that revenge win,” said Thomas.

After his match, Rubio ran over to the Thomas’ and jumped on them in celebration.

“Oh man, it was incredible,” said Thomas. “To be able to enjoy the moment with my brother and one of my…one of the best coach-able kids I’ve been around.  Just to share that moment with all three of us, both of them together, it was an incredible experience.”




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