Class 4A Wrestling: Central's Swinehart pins way to title

Central's Tanner Swinehart works on Willaminna's Travis Kurz in the 152-pound final Friday at the Central Invitational. Swinehart went on to pin Kurz in the second round.

INDEPENDENCE -- When Tanner Swinehart takes the mat prior to a match, his energy suddenly picks up.

The Central sophomore bounces up and down on his toes in seemingly his own little wrestling world, then sprints to the center to take his position, which makes his opponent take notice.

It's impossible not to.

"Honestly, I just kind of copy the things that intimidate me," Swinehart said with a wry smile. "I try to do those because if it intimidates me, hopefully it intimidates other people,"

Either way, Swinehart made quick work of his opponents Thursday, pinning all three -- including Willamina's Travis Kurz at the 3:47 mark in the 152-pound bracket final at the Central Invitational.

Swinehart, the only Class 4A state qualifier for the Panthers a year ago, was also the lone title winner Friday, helping Central to a sixth-place team finish with 96 points.

Tillamook won the tournament easily with 239.5 points, Willamina (178.5) was second and Cottage Grove (106.5) placed third.

It was the second tournament title for Swinehart, who won his 160-pound bracket at the Tillamook Tournament Dec. 8.

The reason for his early success?

Swinehart credits his offseason regimen, which included plenty of USA club wrestling, plus his attendance at Central Michigan University's wrestling camp in the summer.

"My mentality has changed," Swinehart said. "Going to camps has helped me -- they don't just teach you how to wrestle, they also teach you the mentality of wrestling."

He hopes that his improvements might pay off toward his ultimate season goal: a state championship.

Swinehart's younger brother, Colin Swinehart, took runner-up in the 113-pound bracket, falling to Tillamook's Justin Coon in a tough 10-0 decision.

For Colin Swinehart, who has already won two tournament titles this season, it was his first loss of the season.

Photo by Nicole Watkins

Central's Noah Stepp, top, compete in Friday's tournament. Stepp took third place in the 182-pound bracket.

"I knew it was going to be a tough match," Central coach Van Holstad said of Coon, a freshman who placed second as an eighth-grader in the middle school state tournament last season. "I was hoping that Colin would have been able to score some points, but we'll figure it out. We'll see him again."

Noah Stepp (182 pounds) and Tim Blair (120 pounds) snagged third-place finishes for Central.

Stepp pinned Cottage Grove's Tanner Herbert at the 1:33 mark in the consolation final, while Blair picked up a pin over Tillamook's Austin Werner at the 3:28 mark.

Blair, who wrestled in his first varsity tournament of the season Friday, said part of his success has been due to effort.

"Last year, I didn't really work as hard and I kind of just went through it," the sophomore said. "This year, I realized that I needed to work a lot harder, so I've been doing conditioning and doing a lot better in practice."

Other placers for Central included fifth-place finishes from David Vidal (220) and Collyn Lawson (195) and sixth-place finishes from Steven Worthington (113), Khristian Blackwell (138) and Cody Brown (195).

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