The fall prep sports season is over. The winter season is about to begin. For Hermiston’s dual-sport sophomore athlete Sam Shields-Colbray , it’s about carrying over what he achieved on the football field to the wrestling mat.

Colbray just wrapped up a football season for the Hermiston Bulldogs. He plays on both sides of the football at running back and at linebacker.

Colbray spent most of his time at linebacker, amassing 24 tackles, including four tackles for a loss and three and a half sacks on the season. He also scored three rushing touchdowns for the Bulldogs, last season.

Colbray is about to begin a wrestling season in which he is the defending Oregon 5A state champion in the 195-pound weight class. He said playing football helps his wrestling career, and vice versa.

“There is a lot of speed and strength training in football that is directly relatable to wrestling,” he said. “Both sports require a lot of explosiveness. Whether you are on the field or the mat, it’s about controlled bursts of aggression.”

Colbray said balance and position are important in both sports.

“Once you wrestle, everything gets a lot easier on the football field,” he said. “Wrestling really helps you keep control of your body. It’s just having the sense to know where your body is.”

Colbray credits his time spent wrestling to his progression as a football player.

“There is a lot of hand-fighting in wrestling,” Colbray said. “Those techniques are extremely valuable when I’m trying to stiff arm a would-be tackler or I’m trying to use my hands to get off blockers as a defensive player.”

Colbray has played both sports for the majority of his childhood. He started football at the Grid Kids level and as a third-grader, played with the sixth graders.

“I got the chance to play with the seniors from this year’s football team like Costa Rodriguez and Trenton Anteau,” Colbray said. “We were all inter-mixed. It was a great chance for me to play with and against some great competition at an early age.”

Colbray started wrestling when he was 5 years old.

“That was when I started learning some of the basic techniques,” he said. “That’s when I could really start to understand how the sport worked and what my coaches were trying to teach me.”

Colbray’s father wrestled for Oregon State University.

“That certainly played a part in my interest in the sport,” Colbray said. “It’s always been a big part of our family.”

Colbray said he prefers wrestling slightly over football because it’s easier for him to control the outcome.

“In wrestling, it comes down to how hard you train,” he said. “What you get put in, you get out. Everything is your own responsibility. I like having that weight on my shoulders.”

It’s that individualism that draws Colbray to wrestling.

“If you don’t succeed, it means you just have to come back better the next time,” he said. “Football is much more about the team. I can do my job well but we’d still lose, or I can do it poorly and we’d win. I like have more control over my success.”

Even with his past successes on the mat, Colbray said it isn’t tough to stay motivated.

“It doesn’t end after the state competition,” he said. “When you get to national competition, you realize everyone there is just as good or even better than you. After that, you have to compete against kids around the world. There is always someone else who’s got the slight edge. I’m always thinking about that, and that’s what keeps me motivated.”

Colbray has plenty of goals for the upcoming season. Besides winning another Oregon state title, Colbray said he wants to compete in the Fila World Championships.

“I believe I’ll win state again,” he said. “As a wrestler, you have to have that mind set going into the year. I also want to compete in national and international competitions. That’s what I’m really training for.”

Colbray said the competition at the Fila World Championships will be stiff.

“Right now I’m in the Cadet Division, which is (for) 14- to 17-year-old wrestlers,” he said. “The best wrestlers from around the world compete. It’s kind of like our Olympics.”

Colbray said one day he wants to reach the pinnacle of the sport.

“I want to be an Olympian,” he said. “In a sport like wrestling, that is the absolute top.”

Colbray’s coach at Hermiston, Shaun Williams, is an Olympian. He competed for South Africa at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

“Coach Williams has helped me out a lot,” Colbray said. “He has so much experience in international wrestling. He’s been able to share a lot of that with me. I’m very grateful for all I’ve learned from him.”

Colbray said he plans on wrestling at 195 pounds again this high school season.

“Right now I’m around 200 pounds because of football,” he said. “I’ll have some weight to cut before matches begins. I plan on wrestling at 187 pounds at Fila.”

The Bulldogs’ wrestling season begins Monday.

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