Grant Union wrestlers Drew Lusco and Justin Hodge earned championship titles and helped their team to a third-place finish at the OSAA State Wrestling Championships over the weekend.
“They have overcome a tough last half of the season with injury and illness,” head coach Andy Lusco said. “They wrestled at state without the benefit of our usual level of conditioning and preparation due to these circumstances, and they won matches, individual championships and a team trophy through sheer guts.”
Senior Drew Lusco, in his fourth consecutive appearance at state, won his second state championship in the 285 weight division and scored 26 team points.
In the first round, he pinned Elijah Hagler of Colton in 41 seconds. In the quarterfinal round, he won by fall over Central Linn’s Grant Davidson in 42 seconds. In the semifinal round, he pinned Riddle/Days Creek’s Shawn Scott in 3:38.
In the championship match, Drew Lusco beat Siletz Valley/Eddyville Charter’s Kenneth Johnston by a 2-1 decision. Drew Lusco scored 26 team points altogether.
Hodge, a sophomore wrestling in the 152 weight division, won his quarterfinal match by a 7-2 decision over Santiam’s Brody Davidson and his semifinal match by a 5-3 decision over Tanner Clark of Siletz Valley/Eddyville Charter.
In the championship match, the sophomore won in a sudden-death overtime over Toledo’s Kyle Hayner. The sophomore scored 20 team points.
“I’ve been told, the first round, whoever wins, is the better wrestler, the second round is the more conditioned and the third round is the one (wrestler) who has more heart,” Hodge said.
Hodge said he wanted to win for himself until his finals match, but then he realized the only way his team could win a trophy was if he won his final match.
“Of course I wanted to win to be a state champ, but I wanted to win more than myself because we have seniors on our team like my brother (Russell Hodge) and Drew,” Justin Hodge said. “I am the way I am because of my brother.”
“Justin won a championship in what I believe is the toughest 2A bracket this season, and he did it as a sophomore,” Andy Lusco said.
Justin Hodge had some advice from Drew Lusco, who had been in his shoes before.
“I told him that things are going to go wrong, so you gotta keep your eye on the prize the whole time,” Drew Lusco said. “I also told him you can breathe when you’re done wrestling, because this is the last six minutes of wrestling you’re going to have this year, and then you get three hundred and some odd days to breathe.”
In the 182 weight division, Russell Hodge took third place, taking a bye in his first match and winning the rest by fall. He scored 19 team points.
Andy Lusco said five out of six wrestlers scored team points.
“This is an awesome accomplishment for our boys as individuals and as a team,” said Andy Lusco. “They are only as good as their partners, so this is a win for the entire team whether they are at the tournament or not.”
At 170, Quinten Halgarth won a key match to score 3 team points, pinning Rogue River’s Logan Basharel in 22 seconds.
Damian Young finished one spot out of placing at 160, winning by injury default and then by fall over Glide’s Corbyn Kangiser, scoring 6 team points.
Rylan Cox, also wrestling at 285, lost by pin in the first round and by decision in a consolation match.
“I believe these young men have represented their team, school and community quite well,” Andy Lusco said.