KEIZER — It’s a match that Brayden Ebbs remembers well.
The McNary junior wrestler lost last season’s 138-pound state semifinal 7-5 in overtime, just missing the state championship match, but he is using it as a learning experience.
“That was a tough match for me. The kid I wrestled, he was kind of short and stocky, and I think some things went his way in the beginning of the match,” Ebbs said about his loss to Westview’s David Escobar, the eventual state champion. “Somewhere in the middle of the match, I started picking up points and getting points on the board, but things just didn’t go the best for me. But there isn’t much more you could ask for, I did my best.”
This season, Ebbs is committed to applying the lessons he learned that day.
“I learned a lot of stuff I need to work on, from my positions and stuff like that,” Ebbs said. “Most of the stuff, you have to just work on it over and over until you can’t get it wrong. And then once you can’t get it wrong, it just comes naturally in your matches. There’s really not much more to it than that.”
That loss last season was the second consecutive state semifinal loss in two years of high school wrestling for Ebbs, who lost in 2015 to Andrew Curry of David Douglas in the 120-pound semifinals.
“It’s almost a repeat, you can’t talk about that one without talking about the one before that. Poor kid has been in the state semifinals two years in a row,” said Jason Ebbs, McNary’s wrestling coach and Brayden’s father. “Hands down, the gear’s got to change for him, and he knows it. Our job is not to come out and be down by three, our job is to come out and be up by eight. And then push the throttle and get to the end with the RPMs running high. If he does those things, that semifinal issue will be a thing of the past.”
Brayden Ebbs has an ambitious goal for this season — win every match.
“I want to go undefeated this season, and I want to win a state title,” Ebbs said. “I’m just focused on training the best I can, find the best training partners I can, and just working hard, and going out there with an ‘I’m going to win’ attitude.”
Ebbs is getting help from a former two-time Class 6A state champion from McNary — Devin Reynolds.
“Devin Reynolds, he’s coaching out here, he’s basically like a brother to me,” Ebbs said. “And he’s one of my training partners I work with.”
Ebbs still has two seasons left of wrestling at McNary, so he isn’t sure about his plans after high school.
“I want to wrestle in college,” he said. “There’s not really many places in mind right now. I want to go Division I, for sure.”
It will take hard work to reach that level.
“For him, as well as anybody else, he needs to raise his expectations,” Jason Ebbs said about Brayden. “Start taking things that others don’t think belong to him. Stop wondering, and start getting it done. In these next two years, it’s about closing that gap and preparing for that next level.”
Although it can be difficult for some coaches, Jason Ebbs said he enjoys coaching his son.
“We have a really good father-son relationship, a coach-wrestler relationship, and I think we do a pretty good job of keeping those two apart,” he said. “A testament to that is how strong and independent he is. He doesn’t need me to talk to him about what’s going wrong, he knows.”
As a team, Brayden Ebbs said McNary’s wrestlers want to capture a district championship.
“Everybody’s got to train and work hard, just focus on what they need to do,” he said. “And not do anything stupid.”
pmartini@StatesmanJournal.com or Twitter.com/PeteMartiniSJ
Area wrestling capsule preview
Coach: Troy Thomas, third year.
Last year’s placing: Ninth in GVC, 40th in 6A.
Andy Rubio, sr.: A pleasant surprise last year when he won the district championship.
David Rubio, so.: Placed fourth in the district as an unseeded freshman last season.
Matthew Jarding, sr.: A knee injury kept him out of the second half of the season, but he is one of the top athletes in the state and will compete for a state tournament berth.
Outlook: The Royal Scots showed promise last year and have the pieces to move up in the district this season.
Coach: Jason Ebbs, 14th year.
Last year’s placing: Third in GVC, 18th in 6A.
Brayden Ebbs, jr.: The district champion at 138 pounds and one of the most experienced wrestlers in the state.
Wyatt Kesler, sr.: Placed third in the district and made the state meet as an unseeded junior last year.
Sean Burrows, sr.: Was third in the conference as a junior.
Outlook: The strength of the Celtics will be having several wrestlers who will challenge for district championships this season.
Coach: Andy Pickett, seventh year.
Last year’s placing: Second in GVC, 20th in 6A.
Brandon Quezada, sr.: The district champion as a junior last year at 113 pounds and one of the toughest light weight wrestlers in the league.
Ian Carlos, so.: The state runner-up as a freshman last year who will be one of the top wrestlers in the state in the middle weights.
Joshua Urbina, sr.: The district runner-up as a freshman, he has improved and will contend at the state level.
Outlook: The Vikings made a huge step up to place second in the district meet last year and has the wrestlers to be one of the top three teams in the league again.
Coach: Eric Zehner, fifth year.
Last year’s placing: Seventh in GVC, 28th in 6A.
Ricky Villarreal, so.: Placed third at the district meet as a freshman and has huge potential for the future.
Eduardo Montez, jr.: Placed fourth at the district meet last year and narrowly missed a berth in the state meet.
Adrian Zaldana, sr.: The heavyweight placed fifth at the district meet as a junior and will contend for a state tournament berth.
Outlook: The Saxons have a solid lineup this year, with particularly strength in the upper weights, but need some lesser-known athletes to make the next step.
Coach: Nolan Harris, second year.
Last year’s placing: GVC champions, ninth in 6A.
Nathan Rediger, sr.: A district champion last year as a junior and excellent all-around athlete.
Spencer Nofziger, sr.: The district champion at 170 pounds as a junior and one of the top linemen in the GVC this fall.
Michael Murphy, jr.: A district runner-up last year who went on to place third at the state meet.
Outlook: The Olympians are loaded with proven wrestlers including Seth Rediger, Dane McKinney, Tanner Sorensen and Landon Davis and are the heavy favorite to repeat as district champions.
Coach: Mike Baker, fourth year.
Last year’s placing: Eighth in the GVC, 35th in 6A.
Brenton Reddy, sr.: Won the district championship at 182 pounds last season and has a lot more potential.
Sebastian De Leon, so.: Placed fifth as a freshman in the district meet.
Matt Manus, jr.: Was sixth place in the district last year.
Outlook: The Titans showed potential last year and have the potential to move up in the conference.
Also in the GVC
Forest Grove: The Vikings placed fifth in the GVC last year and have the numbers to move up in the district.
McMinnville: The Grizzlies have one of the top wrestlers in the state in senior Brian Barnes, a district champion last year.
West Albany: The Bulldogs had a good showing in the league with a fourth place and have the potential to be in the top three in the league this season.
Other local conferences
Mid-Willamette Conference: Lebanon finally ended Dallas’ reign as district champions last year, but Dallas continued its streak by placing fourth at the state meet. The Dragons return a loaded lineup including Tanner Earhart, Treve Earhart, Dawson Barcroft, Jacob Jones and Noah Sickles and will contend for the top spot in the league again.
4A Special District 2: Sweet Home won the league last year, but North Marion and Cascade have the athletes to compete for the top spot in the league. North Marion senior Lane Stigall has signed to wrestle in college at Missouri and is a two-time state champion.
3A Special District 1: Dayton won Special District 2 last season, but Willamina placed better in state with a fourth-place trophy. Dayton has a loaded lineup including senior Jared Henry, senior Oscar Rosas and senior Bear Hiatt and should be at the top of the league again.
3A Special District 2: Scio has the depth to compete at the top of the reformed conference.
2A/1A Special District 3: Culver is the defending league and state champion. Santiam didn’t have any wrestlers qualify for the state meet last year.