By Jeremy McDonald
JEFFERSON, Ore.– For a program the size of Jefferson, having six athletes qualify for the Wrestling State Meet is a great accomplishment. All but one, Michael Khmelev, return and two in Jose Lorenzo (120) and Gryffen Ellefson-Hamar (126) were freshmen. Gage Frost (138), Ryan Davis (152) and Gannon Lewis (170) return as upperclassmen, a nice little balance between veterans and youth as they prepare for their first tournament December 3 in Harrisburg points Head Coach Troy Thomas.
“I love it. We’re evenly distributed as far as upperclassmen and underclassmen, so I think this is a good foundation to keep building the program,” Thomas said.
Fifteen kids are out for the Lions grappling team this year as they make the move back up to 3A after spending the past few years in the 2A/1A classification as they look to build off of last years successes going into this year.
One of Thomas’ former athletes from his days at 5A McKay in Salem in David Rubio, a State Champion with the Scots and current wrestler at Corban University, giving pointers to the new wave of wrestlers and giving them a chat post-practice as the Warriors have this week off from practice with the Thanksgiving Holiday coming up. A beneficial tool to use points Frost, who picked up a thing or two from the College wrestler.
“He was really teaching me and pointing out a few little things that could help me become better and I really appreciate having him being here,” Frost said.
For Frost, a senior this year, he achieved his goal in making it to State as he hopes to duplicate that this year and thensome.
“I’m really taking what I learned last year and I’m going to use that to push myself to excel this year. My goals last year was to go to State and my goals this year is to push that and really do great at State and excel at State. Which I think I can do,” Frost said, who’s looking to wrestle 152 this year.
Ellefson-Hamar points to his success as a freshman as attention to detail. Whether it’s pulling up wrestling videos as reference, working on the small details in practice, the conditioning and strength training aspect of the match. Living the mindset of the wrestling life.
“It’s kind of the same stuff. Just look at videos, look at small details, do the usual cardio, lifting weights to get stronger. It’s a lot of rinse and repeat, there’s not too much of a secret to it. The more sweat you leave on the mat, the less blood you leave out on the field. That’s one way I like thinking,” Ellefson-Hamar said.
Jefferson will host the Santa Tourney on December 9 at Jefferson Middle School before heading to Stayton for the Stayton Tourney. Interestingly, the Lions will dual with 6A North Salem on January 6, Thomas and Vikings Head Coach Andy Pickett are longtime friends going back to their prep days at McKay High School in the early 2000’s.
Districts will be at Scio High School on February 10 and 11 with the State Tournament February 23 and 24 at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald