The Outlaws took 12 wrestlers to the two-day district tournament, and the outcome was exceeded expectations.

“I had high expectations for this small team, as a coach always does for their athletes, but usually the outcome falls short,” said Coach John Downs. “It is so difficult for a coach to see an athlete work hard all season and not receive an accolade at the end for their efforts. It is especially hard when they wrestle for years and years for this opportunity to participate in the District Tournament and try and earn a trip to the State Championships.”

This season though, the Outlaws had 6 of 12 wrestlers earn a place on the District Championship podium.

Sophomore Tyler Daisy Patterson decided she wanted to again wrestle in the boys tournament as she did last year. She fought very well but had two tough losses, Coach Downs reported.

“At the end of the second match she and I talked and I shared with her that in her last match, I felt she wrestled harder then she had wrestled all year… which in a small way is good for her because this gives her the mental understanding of how much harder she needs to work in practice and in her matches for next season,“ Downs said.

Her end-of-the-season record was 11-18.

Sophomore Wyatt Maffey, at the 132-pound weight class, lost his first match and fell into the consolation bracket. He would go on to win by points until he finally earned a spot in the third-and-fourth-place final, where he ran into the Madras wrestler who had beaten him the day before. Maffey went all three rounds, beating White 5-4 earning the third-place medal and a trip to the State Championships.

“This is the toughest road to take to the placing rounds, to have to fight through consolation matches,” Downs said. “I was so proud of him!”

In the 138-pound weight class, freshman Ben Cooper and senior Anthony Randolph had the best tournament of their high-school wrestling careers. Cooper was forced to defend a fourth-place slot against Switzler from Madras, who was seeded fourth in the tournament, so Cooper had his hands full. In the third and final round, Cooper was able to turn Switzer, earning the pin and saving his trip to the State Championships.

Randolph will also be accompanying Ben to the State Championships in the same weight class.

“Anthony was just on another level this weekend,” Downs said. “I had not seen him wrestle so smart and smooth. He earned win after win finally setting himself up in the first-and-second-place match! I was so excited when he had won the semi-final match to get into the finals. It meant he had finally made it to State, something he had desired for four years and just missed out on last year.”

Senior Ethan Martin also earned a trip to the State Championships.

“Ethan wrestled in the 195-pound weight class and was able to earn three wins by pin,” Downs said. “In his semi-final match he had to wrestle the second-seeded Zemke from Madras. Ethan went three rounds with Zemke, but at the middle of the third Zemke was able to pin Ethan. The loss sent Ethan to the third-and-fourth-place match, where he won by pin.”

Big man Damien King (285 pounds) turned in the best performance of his four-year wrestling career.

“Damien dominated almost every opponent he wrestled,” Downs said. “Damien was very excited to wrestle last year’s state champion and the first-seeded Shukle from La Grande and in the first round all was going OK. Damien was down, but fought off his hips when Shukle pushed all his weight into Damien, causing severe pain in Damien’s hip. They stopped the match and because of the severe pain Damien was having, the sports medicine coordinator and Damien decided to forfeit the match by injury default.”

Damien still earned the second-place medal and a trip to State.

“Damien and his family took him to the local hospital for X-rays,” Downs reported. “We have been updated that there isn’t any bone damage or displacement and that Damien is very sore but he plans to return to State qualifier practice on Monday to feel it all out and make sure he is good to go next weekend at State. Maybe even have a chance to wrestle Shukle again.”