Grant Union sophomore Drew Lusco claimed the state championship wrestling title in the 285-pound bracket Saturday at the 2A/1A OSAA State Wrestling Championship at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
This was a return trip for Lusco who placed fourth at state last year at 220 pounds.
“Drew wrestled well and won his first match with a quick pin,” said Grant Union head coach Andy Lusco. “In the semifinals, he wrestled a kid from Lowell (Thomas Talamanthes-Ward) who was last year’s second-place finisher.”
Drew won 3-1 in regulation.
In the finals, Drew wrestled junior Travis Jonsson of Neah-Kah-Nie. It was the third time they faced off this season, and Drew won the championship in triple overtime.
“That was a tough match,” coach Lusco said. “Both are really physical kids. (Drew) rode the kid out in the third round — had 30 seconds to escape and couldn’t.”
Coach Lusco added, “We’re excited. The hard work’s just beginning, but he feels like he wrestled hard, and he’s worked really hard.”
Drew, who was also champion at the Special District 4 meet, said it was a tough final match, and it felt good to reach his goals.
“The hope is that I can pull it off two more times,” the sophomore said. “It’s great to be a part of such a great group of guys.”
Grant Union senior Elijah Humbird, who won the district championship wrestling at 220 pounds, was at the state championship for his first time.
He lost in the semifinals to the wrestler who finished second. Humbird ended up in fifth after competing in the consolation semifinals with the wrestler who finished third.
“Humbird has come a long way,” Lusco said. “To be a district champion and go on to state is a really great accomplishment. Your first year at state is difficult because it’s new, and it’s a big meet.”
Second-time state qualifier, senior Toby Boatwright (285), who finished second at the district meet to Drew Lusco, lost the state quarterfinals to the No. 1 seed and then lost to the wrestler who finished fourth.
“We were pretty tickled he made as much progress as he did, having wrestled only two years,” said coach Lusco.
He said having Drew Lusco, Humbird and Boatwright wrestle each other in practice was an asset.
“The three of them made each other better, fast,” the coach said. “No surprise, a lot of Drew’s success has to do with those partners, Dillon Maley (who was injured earlier in the season) included — all those kids make each other better.”
Other first-time state qualifiers for Grant Union were sophomore Russell Hodge (182), sophomore Eli Sheedy (113) and freshman Ethan Moore (106).
Coach Lusco said Moore is about 20 pounds lighter than everyone he wrestles and has a “bright future.”
Sheedy won a match in the consolation quarterfinals, then lost in the semifinals to the wrestler who finished fourth.
The coach said Hodge entered the state competition unseeded and won his first match against the No. 4 seed.
“He’s a skilled wrestler, and he did a good job,” he said.
Hodge, competing with an arm injury, lost his next match in the semifinals to the first-place wrestler.
“It was a new experience, and there were a lot of people there,” Hodge said. “I didn’t do as well as I wanted to, but I have two more years.”
Coach Lusco said he looks forward to seeing the younger state qualifiers return next season, as well as others who have been working hard on the team.
“We’re pretty excited to see them progress,” he said.