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Pin and win

Claiborne pins his way to state tourney
By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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Nearly three months ago Oak Ridge junior Zach Claiborne broke his sternum, injured a joint near his collarbone and also a growth plate in his back. He thought his wrestling season was over. On Friday he will be competing in the 182-pound weight class at the state wrestling tournament. Claiborne opened the Masters Tournament on Thursday by getting pinned in the first period by Luke Brewer of Bret Harte, the eventual sixth-place finisher. With the loss, Claiborne had to win five straight matches to make it to the state tournament. “I was pretty discouraged after the loss, but it helped me to relax,” Claiborne said. “From there I just went out and wrestled and I kept winning.” Claiborne rattled off a string of six straight pins, starting with first period pins over Merced’s Jesse Ayala and then Folsom’s Alex Hurlimann, who had crushed Claiborne five days earlier at the divisional meet. “That win over Hurlimann stands out the most,” Claiborne said. “The Telegraph said that he beat me convincingly so to come back and work up a 10-0 lead and then pin him felt good.” Claiborne then pinned Adrian Vizcaino of Central Valley in the third period and Elk Grove’s Freddy Lopez in the first which put him one win away from a state berth. Against Dean Duivenvoorden of Gregori, Claiborne put him on his back and pinned him just nine seconds into the third period which got him into the state tournament. “It felt good,” Claiborne said. “It was a big relief. My goal was to make it to state.” Claiborne picked up one more win, a second-period pin over fifth-place finisher Mehrdad Alvandi of Mira Loma, to advance to the consolation finals, where he lost his final match by fall to Jordan Sepeda of Natomas. Claiborne won six of eight matches and finished fourth in the weight class. “What a run; it was incredible,” Oak Ridge coach Casey Rhyan said. “It was great to see him do that. He was really fighting and scrapping. It was impressive. He was getting better each time he went out on the mat. His last two or three matches were really impressive. “He only weighs 173 pounds and he’s giving up 10 pounds to guys cutting down from 195. I’m very proud of him and how he battled. He could do anything at the state tournament. He can throw anyone. He’s really starting to put it together.” Claiborne’s teammate, Keaton Subjeck, was impressed by his performance. “I’m really proud of Zack,” Subjeck said. “He did great and I’m glad he’s going with me down to the state tournament.” Claiborne said he hopes to place in the top-eight at state. Subjeck will be making his second trip to the state tournament, as he will be looking to improve on last year’s eighth-place finish at 145 pounds. Subjeck placed second in the 160-pound weight class at Masters, winning his first four matches before losing to McNair’s James Wilson in the finals, 5-2. It was only his second loss of the year and first to a wrestler from California. Subjeck won his first two matches by fall, pinning Woodcreek’s Andrew Zumaran in 2:30 and then polishing off Ripon’s Trevor Daniel in 5:12. He then had a tough match with Atwater’s Kyle Thorpe, which he won 4-3. Thorpe’s plan to win the match was to wait for Subjeck to shoot, fend off his attempts and counter with a takedown of his own. He picked up a stalling warning in the match, but never got a second. “He knew I liked to go on the offensive and he was just waiting on me,” Subjeck said. “He didn’t look to score and it was frustrating. He was able to score when I took a bad shot. It was important for me to set up my shots smartly and keep pushing the tempo.” Subjeck came back with a vengeance, earning a 15-0 technical fall over Golden Valley’s Markus Davis in the semis. In the finals he met Wilson for the first time and didn’t wrestle his best match and lost. “He was always in good position and it was hard for me to get shots,” Subjeck said. “He was really strong and had a strong grip and would hang on in tie-ups. He didn’t go for a lot of offense either, but I should have been more aggressive.” Subjeck said he wasn’t too upset with the loss and if anything, he and Rhyan were glad he had the opportunity to face Wilson at Masters. “If I see him again I will know how to better wrestle him,” Subjeck said. Rhyan added, “I told Keaton right after the match that he would benefit a lot from it. If we see him again we can implement a strategy and Keaton’s really good at doing that. He was hesitant against him and he can’t be like that. A lot of times matches like that come down to one takedown and he’s got to go out and get it.” Oak Ridge had nine other wrestlers compete in Masters but did not qualify for the state tournament. Cameron Miller (132) and Taylor Ellerman (138) came closest to advancing. Miller won three of his five matches, losing to Vacaville’s Hayden Fry, 6-1, in his final match. Fry went on to finish fourth in the tournament. Ellerman was one win away from qualifying for state after winning his first two matches, but then dropped two straight to runner-up Tyler Noon from Oakdale and fifth-place finisher Sunny Jackson from Elk Grove. Preston Dean picked up two wins at 195 before being eliminated, while Hugh Ellerman (170) and Jacob Proul (285) each came home with one win. Josh Ploke (106), Andrew Gularte (120), Trey Reese (126) and Xavier Lopez (220) all dropped two matches and were eliminated. Sign-ups for the Trojan Wrestling Club’s spring season will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and again on March 8 in the Oak Ridge High wrestling room. The cost is $200 per wrestler ($50 for each additional sibling) and each wrestler will receive a club T-shirt. The club is for fifth through 12th graders with those not yet in fifth grade to be considered on a case-by-case basis. For more information contact Casey Rhyan at 220-1924.