De Luca gets 2nd straight state title
March 2, 2011Phoenix High School
PORTLAND - Given his sly smile and easygoing nature, it's not always easy to predict what's going through the mind of Phoenix's Eleazer De Luca as he prepares for a wrestling match.
If anyone had questions about his determination, he answered them Saturday night in claiming his second straight state championship with another undefeated season in the Class 4A ranks.
De Luca methodically took apart Molalla's Jake Marshall for the better part of the matchup at 140 pounds at Memorial Coliseum, landing a 12-6 decision in the midst of a troublesome bloody nose that led to four stoppages.
"He's composed but he also always gets ready for every match, especially up at state," said Phoenix head coach John Farmer. "From the first round to the last he gets himself 100 percent prepared to go out and wrestle, and a lot of people kind of overlook that. Even when you get good, you still have to get yourself prepared."
De Luca knew exactly what to expect in the finals after getting a good look at Marshall earlier in the day. The Phoenix junior needed only 56 seconds to pin Ontario's Max Maeda, then sat back and watched Marshall score a pin of his own in the semifinals.
Marshall opened with a physical style from the first whistle, slapping down on De Luca's head at every chance. All that did was open a free leg for De Luca to grab, and the Pirate swept it at will to open an 8-1 lead midway through the second round.
"I was wrestling a tough kid "... aggressive, hard on the head," said De Luca, who hasn't lost to an Oregonian since Illinois Valley's Sam Winter beat him in the state finals his freshman year. "I just had to go out there and keep my cool and wrestle the style my coaches taught me to wrestle."
"He kinda had a reason to be (physical) because he was telling everyone at his district tournament that he was going to go out there and stick De Luca," the Pirate said of Marshall. "He wanted it just as bad as I did. Everyone wants to be on top so having that competitive attitude is good."
While the physical style didn't alter De Luca's mind-set, it did open up a wound that increasingly made Farmer nervous as the five-minute blood time dipped to about two minutes before it was ultimately determined that taping his head would be the best option.
"The only problem we ran into was a little bit of blood," said the coach. "We got a little worried on the time there. He had to give up a takedown at the end because he didn't want to take the risk of that bleeding coming back up."
The blood began flowing with 50 seconds to go in the second round and De Luca ahead 8-1. He picked his spots from that point on, going back to a single leg pickup that he would eventually crawl through and score.
"If it's there I'm going to take it," said De Luca. "He gives me an opportunity to score like that, I'm going to be right on that opportunity."
While he may have been playing into the hands of Marshall, who Farmer said is a good leg rider, the confidence De Luca exhibits each match simply took over.
"He didn't hesitate for a second to say, 'Yeah, I want to go down under him,' because he knew he could get away," said Farmer. "He was pretty confident in that."
It's the same poise that led him to Oregon's triple crown a year ago and has him in line for another run this year. De Luca vowed to be back in the training room on Monday.
"He's 100 percent focused and every ounce he gets, he deserves," said Farmer.
After a rough opening day, the Pirates finished 21st in the team race with 33 points.
Henley placed three wrestlers in the finals en route to the Hornets' first-ever state championship, totaling 172