By Jeremy McDonald
AMITY, Ore.– Wednesday marked their last hard day in the Blue Gym before the State meet this weekend in Portland.
It was their practice in general for the season with state starting up in less than 48 hours.
For Amity’s Blake Runion, it’s his second trip to the State in just his second-year ever wrestling. Last year, with just two-and-a-half months of wrestling under his belt, the undersized 106-pounder lost two tough matches before going straight to work this offseason with Salem Elite down the way in Salem to better his skills.
“Going out there two times a week, just grinding it out with all of those studs…Iron sharpens Iron, it’s gotten me better,” said Runion.
After finishing District Runner-Up at 106 pounds this season, Runion is taking the lessons he learned from his older brother Aaron’s semi-final match against Scio’s Jacob Mask to seeing the Parade of Champions has helped Runion approach this State this year a little differently as well.
This year is almost like redemption from last year for the Warrior Sophomore.
“It taught me so much from seeing my brother’s mistake in the Semi-Finals. So not doing stupid mistakes. Getting to see the parade of Champions, it taught me what I want to chase. That’s what I’m going to chase this year,” said Runion. “I just got to stay in really good position, I got to take smart shots and not do stupid stuff.”
Joining Runion is Russel Brown. Brown too finished District Runner-Up up at 195 after injury forfeiting as he bounced back from a tough torn lat muscle that derailed a promising sophomore season last year right before Districts.
“Last year we tried so hard and we had the people that could challenge us, but since I tore my lat…I don’t know, it sucked really bad, I don’t know how to explain it,” said Brown.32
Brown now has a chance to re-write how last season went this year as he now has reached the big show after the back injury.
But as soon as he healed up from that, tragedy struck again as Brown’s shoulders began to give him some trouble that nearly derailed his junior year as the torn back muscles did last season.
“It’s really awesome that my back actually healed from physical therapy and all the wrestling stuff, but then all the shoulder stuff started coming in this year. I thought I wouldn’t be able to do Districts again,” said Brown of the two years.
Now, as the State Meet starts on Friday morning at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland, strategy comes into play as Brown starts the 195 pound bracket with Douglas’ Jesse Brecht to keep the strain on his shoulders to a limited basis during his matches.
“My coach was telling me just don’t try to tie up because that is so much strain on your shoulders. I wasn’t trying to be on the bottom so much because all of the arm-bars that were thrown on me,” said Brown. “It taught to me to try to stay on top as much during the match.”
Runion opens the 106 pound bracket versus Burns’ Oliver Barnes.