By Jeremy McDonald
SPRINGFIELD, Ore.—Tess Barnett’s third-place finish as a sophomore last year at the OSAA Girls South Regional State Qualifier had challenged the McKay Girls Wrestler.
It’s weird to think about. Two years ago, third-place would have gotten Barnett into the State Tournament as it did when the then-freshman finished third.
Last year it counted against her as only Top-2 from the newly created South and North Regional Tournaments left the Scots grappler first-out of returning to Portland. Returning this year, the State field expanded from four as it’s been the last two years to now eight. Allowing four from each weight from each location, it opens up the opportunity for a Barnett to return to State.
Barnett didn’t leave it to chance this year for something strange to happen. After taking the first round forfeit victory, Barnett won her next two matches in 43 and 51 seconds respectively to reach the 110-pound Regional Championship Final to ensure her return to the Big Tournament in three weeks.
“It made me work like ten-times harder because I know not everything will come easy, so I need to work harder for it,” said Barnett of the opportunity.
Barnett reached the Finals, but her competition was a tough one in Sweet Home’s Lexi Schilling. Both scrapped and clawed for points with the Huskie Senior leading 5-4 after the first period. They’ve met before, but with the regional championship and the number one seed from the South region at stake, let the wrestling decide.
The two wrestlers were a combined 45-5, Barnett at 24-4 and Schilling 21-1, and it was as competitive as you could imagine. Both were looking for advantages and had them with the few opportunities that presented themselves.
Barnett went for a near-fall, Schilling answered with a near-fall even. Barnett came within centimeters, seconds perhaps, of pinning Schilling for the Title when Schilling found a crease in Barnett’s hold. Slipping out and reversing the fate of both athletes in Schilling’s stunning second round pin.
As frustrated as it was losing to Schilling in that fashion, Barnett knows she’ll have another crack at her and the rest of the field moving into State here in a few weeks.
“I wrestled her before and I lost to her by one point, so it was frustrating getting pinned. But it’s alright, I’ll be alright. I’ll just keep improving,” said Barnett. “Just keep a positive mindset, keep trusting what my coaches have planned for me for these next couple of weeks.”
McKay finished 12th in a field of 59 teams.