THE NEXT LEVEL: Hermiston sophomore Brent Parks, shown here in his quarterfinal win Friday over No. 3 seed Eliseo Rios of Liberty, took second Saturday night at the Class 4A state wrestling tournament in Salem.

By the Hermiston Herald

SALEM — Brent Parks wanted to make sure he atoned for last year's disappointment.

He he did that in his first match Thursday and came within one point on Saturday night of making a complete turnaround.

The Hermiston sophomore, who failed to win a match at the state tournament as a freshman, came within one point of first state title at The Pavilion on the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem.

Parks, for the third time this season, locked up with Redmond's Austin Enoch, but for the third time Enoch posted the win, this time an 8-7 victory in the championship match at 135 pounds as Parks claimed second place t the Class 4A state tournament.

"I had a bad tournament last year, but I am trying to fix that," said Parks after his quarterfinal win Friday morning.

Parks was one of three place winners for the Bulldogs, who finished 13th with 62 points.

"I thought we could get in the top-10, but we needed a few more wins," Hermiston coach Curt Berger said. "But we came pretty close."

Crater won its third straight team title in record fashion with 11 place winners and two individual champions to score 227.5 points. Pendleton was second with 171.5 points as the Intermountain Conference had four teams place in the top-13.

"It showed the IMC is pretty tough," Berger said.

Parks, who lost to Enoch 7-4 in the 135-pound finals of the district tournament a week ago, had to play catch-up for most of the match after falling behind 7-3. He closed the gap in the third round, but an Enoch escape was the difference.

"He had his chances," Berger said. "Enoch is an exceptional kid and really tough to beat."

It took Parks all but one match to make his second trip to state more successful than his first.

He recorded a pair of falls on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals where he faced third-seeded Eliseo Rios of Liberty High School of Hillsboro.

Parks got the early takedown and went on for an 11-5 win.

"When you get that first takedown, you are going to win your match 75 percent of the time," Parks said after the match.

Parks came back later that night to eke out a 6-5 win over second-seeded Sam Schmitz of Newberg to reach the finals.

Senior Keith Saucillo and Darrin White both won their first two matches on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals.

Saucillo, the district champion at 112 pounds, rolled through to the semifinals Friday morning with a pin on fourth-seeded Derek Wittig of Reynolds.

But that night had his run at the championship stopped by eventual champion Tyler Baker of Grants Pass. Baker got on Saucillo from the beginning on his way to a 16-7 major decision.

Saucillo was injured in the match and had trouble bouncing back, and managed to place sixth after losing to Shane Rhoden of Crook County in the fifth-sixth place match.

White, who was the third Bulldog to reach the quarterfinals, had his run stopped there, losing 9-1 to Brian Lemmon of Century High School of Hillsboro.

"Yeah, it was pretty tough," White said. "He has the same offense as me, he's a leg-rider also."

White went on to lose his next match and did not place.

Troy Kessell, after getting a bye in the first round, lost his first match to second-seeded and defending champion Ron Lee of Crater by fall at 3:17.

Kessell managed to navigate his way through the consolation bracket with four wins to place seventh at 189 pounds.

"To have three state placers, I think we did a pretty good job," said Berger, who now coached 39 state placers in his 14-year tenure at Hermiston.

Tye Schaffeld and Randy Larson also picked up wins in their first state appearance. Schaffeld went 1-2 at 160 pounds while Larson, a freshman, was 2-2.

"I think we had a pretty good season," Berger said, reeling off some of the Bulldogs accomplishments that included second in the IMC in duals, a 17-4 dual meet record and three state placers.

Hermiston returns six of the nine wrestlers that qualified for state next season.

"This gives us something to build on for the future," Berger said.

— Miles Vance of the Beaverton Valley Times contributed to this story.

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