Enterprise's Jimmy VanBelle pinned his way to the 189-pound championship of the rugged Brian Muilenburg Invitational Wrestling Tournament held last Friday and Saturday in La Grande. Fifteen schools competed in a meet that drew grapplers from much larger schools including Barlow of Portland and Capital High School in Boise, Idaho.
Possibly VanBelle's most formidable opposition came in his second match, of four, held against Joseph's Clayton Lowe. While his other three pins came in the first or second round of action, Lowe extended the Enterprise wrestler to 5:20 of the third round before being banished by a pin. VanBelle stopped Baker's Nicholas Garrick in 1:41, Lowe, Elgin's Chad McDonald in 2:23 and in the finals stopped Kory Pratt of Weiserm Idaho in 2:53 to claim the title.
The only other place winners from Wallowa County were also from Enterprise. They were Austin Himes who claimed fourth place at 130 lbs. and Collin Collingsworth who wrestled and won four matches on Saturday alone to claim a fifth place at 145 lbs. His only loss in six matches was in his second match against Kyle Nelson of Nampa, Idaho who pinned the EHS grappler in 4:58. Nelson went on to win the 145 lb. title.
Himes recorded two pins before running into Bruce Allphin of Barlow who outpointed him 8-4. In the third and fourth place bracket Himes pinned a Nampa wrestler and outpointed a Weiser wrestler before running again into Allphin in the third and fourth place finale. This time Allphin pinned Himes with :05 remaining in the third round.
As a team Enterprise scored 83 points to claim tenth place from among the 15 schools competing. Joseph scored 24 points to grab 13th place and Wallowa 15 points to tie for 14th place.
The bulk of Joseph's points came from Ryan Barstad at 140 lbs. and Lowe at 189 lbs. who, though not placing, each recorded two pins before being eliminated from the tournament.
Wallowa's top point makers were Brandon Frei at 160 lbs. and Patrick Silveria at 171 lbs.
Team scores for the two day tournament were as follows: Pendleton 291.5, Nampa, Idaho 260.5, Weiser, Idaho 226.5, Burns 203, Barlow 199.5, Milton-Freewater139, Capital HS of Boise, Idaho, 138, Baker 109, Elgin 90, Enterprise 83, La Grande 73, Imbler 30, Joseph 24, Union 15, Wallowa 15.