In his career, wrestling has taken Dusty Dodge from The Dalles to Goldendale and now back to The Dalles.
Life has been a whirlwind, but he takes so much more away from his experiences that will last him through the test of time.
The two-time state placer at Goldendale (third place in 2018, and second last season at 160 pounds) won all three of his 170-pound matches by pin to take first place at the OSAA 5A Special District 4 Championships Saturday at Ridgeview High School in Redmond.
Dodge is on the verge of school history, as he ran his overall record to 22-0, 21 by pinfall.
“I think my whole journey through wrestling has taught me a lot about myself and helped me become a better practice partner, a better teammate and it also made me a better wrestler through some ups and downs, losing tournaments and not doing too good throughout the year. It has made my mindset tougher and gave me the motivation to get more out of myself every day.”
Dodge had an opening-round bye, then polished off three straight opponents in a combined six minutes and 39 seconds.
The first win came at 21 seconds versus Jubal Brumble (Crook County), and the junior dropped Carlos Corrales-Bazan (Ridgeview) via third-round pin (4:28) to vault into the championship finale, where he would meet up with teammate Taylor Morehouse.
Dodge earned the first-round pin of Morehouse with 11 seconds to go in the first round (1:49).
For Dodge, the district victory was his fifth tournament title of the season, and he added an Outstanding Wrestler of the IMC District Award as voted on by all the head coaches.
“Dusty’s undefeated run this year is not all about the 21 pins, but about his superb technique,” The Dalles head coach Paul Beasley said. “Pinning is a product of superior wrestling, not strength alone. Assistant coaches Ryan Manciu and Jake Abrams devised a practice plan to take advantage of his skills and it has paid off with a No. 1 seed at state.”
Joining Dodge at this weekend’s 5A state tournament at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland are Taylor Morehouse (second place), Steven Preston (third place), Ian Preston (fourth place) and Mauricio Carrera (fourth place).
While there are five state qualifiers, freshmen Marquies Sagapolutele (160) and Miguel Torres (220) each placed fifth and have an outside shot at earning state invites as wild card.
Morehouse continued his upward trend in the 5A Special District 4 landscape after a second-place outcome, Steven Preston showed resolve in picking up third place, and both Ian Preston and Carrera had to fight through tough brackets to solidify their fourth-place outcomes.
Entering districts, Morehouse had a losing record, but had been on an upwards swing over the last three weeks and had several facets to his craft dialed in.
Just like Dodge, Morehouse (13-16 record) had byes in the first three rounds and jumped into the semifinals to grapple against Hood River Valley’s Maverick Geller (23-16 record).
In that match, Geller and Morehouse fought for six minutes to a 3-all tie, so a championship berth had to be decided in overtime.
Morehouse pulled off the two-point takedown at the buzzer in the extra session for a 5-3 sudden victory to advance.
Steven Preston (20-5 record), a two-time state qualifier, hit the mats at 160 pounds and scored 20 team points after posting a 3-1 record.
The Riverhawk senior moved into the quarterfinals, where he battled with Redmond’s Logan Willett (8-10 record), and Steven Preston used just 33 seconds to get a pin and advance to the semifinals.
After a semifinal pinfall loss (4:32) at the hands of Gavin McLean (Crook County), Preston rebounded for a third-round pin of Ray Solis (Crook County) at the 4:11 mark, and he pinned Willett in the second round (2:12) to secure third place.
As with every successful program, individual success is a by-product of great teammates.
Beasley credited the workout partners of Dodge (Steven Preston, Ben Nelson and Morehouse), Morehouse (Carrera), Ian Preston (Conor Blair, Zak Tackett and Angel Oregon), Morehouse Dodge and Carrera), and Sagapolutele (Aiden Marx and Isaac Baker), who each pushed their teammates to believe that they could make it there.
“Dusty’s amazing undefeated season is directly attributed to his wrestling partners,” Beasley said. “Without their workout partners, no one goes to state this weekend or has a successful season. I am so proud of the selfless attitudes and teamwork of those unsung heroes who will not be on the mats. They deserve recognition and our thanks.”
Carrera has been busy away from wrestling with the completion of basic training earlier this season.
With an 8-4 record, the senior was the No. 4 seed in the 182-pound division and posted a 1-2 record and tallied 10 team points.
“Basic training helped me build character, establish more discipline and built up my mental fortitude,” Carrera said. “At basic, you are going to get up at three in the morning and do things you don’t like, and you get comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s how life is. You have to get into the wringer and persevere.”
Carrera lost in the quarterfinals versus Carson Woods (Ridgeview) by pinfall at the 2:56 mark of the second round, which dropped him down to the consolation bracket, starting out with back-to-back byes.
In the consolation semifinals, Carrera dispatched of Aaron Bowen (Crook County) by a 10-5 decision to officially punch his first-career state ticket.
Carrera did not continue his tournament due to an injury default in the third-place match with Woods, so was put in fourth place.
Ian Preston (4-4 record) had endured his share of struggles this winter with various circumstances, but had all his affairs in order Saturday to make a state run.
The 120-pound freshman had a bye in the first round and moved into the quarterfinals for a tough bout with Crook County’s Tannon Joyner (15-13 record).
Ian Preston lost that match by pin at 1:42 of the first round and was dropped to the consolation side of the bracket.
Following two byes, Ian Preston pinned Reeden Arsenault (Redmond) early in the second round (2:05) and had his third-place bid short-circuited after a first-round pin loss against Logan Hill (Redmond).
“Ian has pulled himself up after struggling with grades and adversity to grab a state berth as a freshman,” Beasley said. “This was a feat he achieved with the help of his family, and dedication in the wrestling room. We have not only not had five wrestlers qualify since 2010, but Ian is the first freshman in a decade.”
At 220 pounds, Torres (4-14 record) picked up two wins on the day, the first coming in the third-round consolation match over Jacob Griffin (Pendleton) by first-round pin (1:47).
Torres then lost by pin at 2:27 versus Joseph Martin (Ridgeview), and earned an injury default win over Logan Jensen (Hood River Valley) to notch fifth place.
Sagapolutele (7-7) placed fifth at 160 pounds and started his first tournament strong with an injury default win at 2:59 of the second round in a match versus Timothy Fletcher (Hood River Valley).
Following a quarterfinal loss to Ray Solis (Crook County), the freshman won by a 14-3 major decision over Colt Storey (Redmond), and added a pinfall triumph in his next match against Pendleton’s Jaime Rico (3:29) to vault into the consolation semifinals.
Sagapolutele lost that match to Willett (Redmond) by technical fall (20-4) in the second round.
Solis and Sagapolutele were penciled in to wrestle in the fifth-place match, but there was a double forfeit ruled.
Tackett (113 pounds) lost two matches and finished the season at 15-13, Angel Oregon (120) went 0-2, Conor Blair suffered two straight losses at 126 pounds, Austin Music (138) was struck with two pinfall losses, Ben Nelson (7-9) ended up winless in a pair of setbacks, and Quinn Wilson, a senior, lost two matches by first-round pin at 152 pounds.
Wild card calls are expected Wednesday, so the Riverhawks could have two more wrestlers making the trip to Portland this weekend.
Action starts at 8:30 a.m. Friday and continues with consolation matches at 9 a.m. Saturday. The Session 3 finals run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.
“We have to keep pushing ourselves past that limit and give more than 100 percent,” Carrera said. “We have to give 101 percent, 102 percent and beyond. What matters most is what effort you put out there, how you compete, and after a good showing at districts, I am looking forward to even more from us at state.”