Saturday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Cottage Grove’s Raina Herzog made history. Competing at the first-ever OSAA girls’ wrestling state championship, Herzog took home an individual title.
“It was fantastic. It’s always good to have a state champion,” said Cottage Grove head coach Chris Joyce.
Herzog, who was sick all weekend, overcame illness as she defeated Sunset’s Glenna Barranco in the semi-final match. In the finals, she faced Thurston’s Denise Binford who she had wrestled twice before this season, splitting the pair of matches. It was Herzog coming away with a victory claim the title.
“She had her controlled pretty good there for the first round and then just fatigue from being sick kind of hit in. But boy, the last 30 seconds, Denise was in on a shot and Raina kind of snapped her down and basically ran her over and turned her to her back and pinned her,” recalled Joyce. “Lot of guts there at the end to take care of the match that way as opposed to go to overtime or something like that.”
On the boys side, the Lions had six wrestlers competing at the meet. Jacob Dunn was the highest finisher with his third place finish. After winning his first match of the tournament, the third-seeded Dunn fell to eventual champion Noah Thompson from Cascade. After the loss, Dunn rolled through the consolation bracket outscoring his opponents 34-6 over the next four matches.
“He was able to come back through and get third and he really dominated in that second day. Dominated,” said Joyce. After the initial loss, Joyce had a conversation with Dunn about preparing for the next step. “You’ve got to remind them that there’s still a lot of tournament left. That they’ve got to readjust goals, whatever the goals may be, they’ve got to readjust their mentality to understand what the grind is going to bring in the next 18 or so hours is a big grind.”
Also placing for Cottage Grove was Drew Swenson who finished sixth. David Cox and Fernando Soto-Cruz also recorded points for the Lions who finished 18th as a team.
With the end of this season, Joyce has his eye on next year.
“We’ll have a bunch of seniors next year, so we’ve got a lot of leadership coming back, in theory. It’s still 300 days away so we’ll see,” he said.