By Jeremy McDonald
PORTLAND, Ore.– As day one of State wrapped up at Veterans Memorial Colliseum in Portland, Amity’s Aaron Runion found himself coming off a 16-1 Tech-Fall over Glide’s Gabe Syverson to advance the Warrior Senior to the 132 pound Semi-Final round.
Runion, who is about five-foot-five, had to use his short statue versus the more lanky Syverson who was closer to about five-foot-ten to get his points.
“Ever since I started wrestling I had an issue with tall guys, I had to wrestle them all the time,” starts Runion. “Really tall guys, I had to wrestle them all the time but I’ve trained a lot. Trained so much to work on that and that’s what I did out there, just stay up close because he has so much reach on me and my game’s up close.
“Just setting it up, watching his legs. Watching the way he moves, the way he reacts and just timing it all off that.”
The feeling of getting to at least place at the State tournament was kind of like a redemption from his junior season with the top seed at 126 in La Pine’s David Kerr knocked Runion to the consolation round in the quarterfinals in 2017. After going through the blood rounds, Runion finished fourth at 126 before making the move up to 132 as a senior.
And the senior came back this year, and worked his way back to this point of now he’s going to the semi-final round.
“It feels pretty good honestly, last year I faced Kern, lost to him and missed my shot to make it to the Second Day,” said Runion. “It’s a really good feeling though, I got my brother he’s a freshman. First-time wrestling, first time going to State, it feels really good and my dad’s coaching so we got all the Runion boys all together. It’s pretty amazing.”
Brother Blake, a 106’er, reached the second-round of the consolation round before being defeated by Efrain Caldera from Nyssa and his father Nate, is a assistant coach that will be taking over the Head Coaching position next season.
“It’s pretty cool, I got way more support than I started out with and everyone’s supporting me and have them as my back bone really helps a lot,” said Runion. “A lot, a lot of support.”
Having trained at Salem Elite for the past few years, the fourth-year wrestler seen a lot of talent through the wrestling club. Scio’s Austin Zeiher, Gervais’ Alexys Zepeda, etc. has helped train and teach Runion through the years.
“It helped me a lot, I’ve even learned a lot even in my junior year and I’m still learning now,” said Runion. “But I’m hoping to continue my career and I know it’s a definite possibility for me, so that’s what I’m going to go after.”
With college coaches floating around during the two-day torunament, the senior found himself facing Scio’s Jacob Mask in the semi-final round where heartbreak happened once again.
Up seven points on Mask, the Logger sophomore stormed back and capitalized on an error by Runion to pin the Amity senior at the 2:58 mark of the match that ended the Warrior wrestler’s pursuit of the Title.
But, Runion defeated Jacob Skjei from Willimian/Falls City in the consolation final through another Tech-Final, his second of the tournament, to get to the third-fourth place match versus another La Pine wrestler in the second-seed of Aaron Dudley.
This year, Runion would be denied that Top 3 spot, Major Decision-ing Dudley 14-5 to get the third-place trophy.
For father Nate, it was frustrating as a parent and a coach to see Aaron go down like he did in the semi-final round, but is happy to see him bounce back like he did.
“As a coach, it was frustrating to watch your wrestler dominate a match being up seven points, only to put himself in a vulnerable position to get pinned,” said Nate Runion. “As a parent, I was absolutely heartbroken to know that all the work he had put in came down to a split second mistake which ultimately cost him a shot at the finals match. Regarding his comeback to take third from both angles, it’s hard to articulate.
“There are a lot of athletes who would have sulked (Aaron was one of those two years ago) and not responded the next few matches. But Aaron proved wrestling isn’t just physical performance, a Champion’s mindset is also needed. He chose to respond by absolutely dominating his final two matches.”