By Jeremy McDonald
SPRINGFIELD, Ore.– Both West Salem’s Reagan Davis and McKay’s Tess Barnett lost tough Semi-Final bouts to start Saturday’s placing day of the OSAA Girls Southern Division District wrestling meet.
Barnett, at 110, got caught against Bend’s Kyleigh Cuevas before bouncing back in the consolation finals against the Lava Bears Analise Smith.
It was a roller-coaster match that featured Barnett nearly pinning Smith in the first round before Smith nearly pinned Barnett in the second round. In the third round however, Barnett would walk away victorious, pinning Smith in the third round to set up a rematch with Churchill’s Alexus Misick-Besio in the consolation finals for third-fourth place.
“When I got on my back and she got me in that head-and-arm, I didn’t know how to get out of it besides rolling through. I was like, ‘ok, I’ll break through’ and it worked out and I got through on my stomach,” said Barnett of the second round where Smith nearly pinned her. “And then I pinned her.”
Davis, at 125 pounds, wanted to place in the District meet and had already pulled the upset of the fourth-seed Divinity Farris from Reedsport Charter before running into the buzz-saw of Phoenix’s Emma Truex in the semis.
But the Titan grappler answered by holding off a late charge by Ashland’s Summer Bertrand by points in Davis’ 10-6 decision victory.
“I think I did good. I knew it was the last round so I just had to power through the next two minutes so I could come out with the win,” said Davis.
For Davis, who saw a handful of live matches this season, it was nice to see significant matches at the State Qualifier this weekend.
“Throughout the year, I didn’t get that many matches. Many of the tournament we went too didn’t have girls’ brackets so I didn’t get that many, I’ve improved so much at this tournament because I got so much mat time and wrestling wrestlers at my level,” said Davis.
Both girls still had an opportunity to qualify for the Top 2 spots to go to State however despite being in the consolation finals thanks to the wrestle-back rule in the girls wrestling brackets. Meaning that, if you didn’t wrestle the person who finished second, you could wrestle them for a ‘True’-second place that could allow someone who would finish third to steal second place.
All the girls had to do was to win their third-place match to give them hope for what happens on the other end of the bracket.
But, that’s where heartbreak happened for both wrestlers that saw both their seasons come to an end shortly after their consolation final bouts.
Davis, all she needed was a win and she got the wrestle-back bout with Cailee Hallett from Thurston and held a 4-2 lead on Sweet Home’s Jessy Hart after back-to-back lock-hand calls handed the Titan Sophomore the lead during the second period.
Into the third period Davis led, but a simple letting down of her guard gave Hart the perfect opportunity to attack that left Davis stunned as Hart walked away with a pin victory at the 5:13 mark of the match.
Looking back, Davis knew she just needed to stay focused in crucial times like that one she was just in.
“At the end I think I got a little too jumbled up in my brain so I didn’t focus up on the fact that I needed to stay (in the moment),” said Davis.
For Barnett, who went to State as a freshman last season when the Girls State Qualifer was at one central location, bounced back from a 2-0 hole to take third place with an 8-2 victory over Misick-Besio with the decisive wrestle-match happening next to her between Marissa Kuntz and Cuevas.
To have a chance for a wrestle-back, Cuevas would have to win the first-second match over Kuntz. Kuntz won at the 3:58 mark of the match to eliminate the opportunity of a wrestle-back for Barnett as the sophomore misses the State Meet after finishing fourth in Portland in 2018.
“It was really upsetting because last year I went to State and this year I can’t,” said Barnett. “I got third last year as well, it’s the same thing but there should be four at each tournament since there’s another location. Next year I think I could be State Champion.”
West Salem’s Quilaztli Miguel-Lapham (140) finished fifth and Karime Camarena (155) from McKay finished sixth.