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Ripons Mackey to chase Beelers state mark next
Ryan Mackey qualified for the CIF State Championships Friday at the SJS Masters Tournament with a sixth place finish. - photo by BRANDON PETERSEN
STOCKTON — It wasn’t exactly the finish that Ripon High senior Ryan Mackey was hoping for.

But it’ll do.

Friday afternoon at the Spanos Center on the campus of the University of the Pacific, Mackey earned a trip to the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships for the second straight season with a sixth-place finish after he was forced to injury default in the consolation semifinals.

About an hour earlier, Mackey inked his named on the state tournament’s guest list with a 5-4 triple-overtime win over Elk Grove’s Matt Dakin.

Although Mackey was able to win the punch-counterpunch contest with an escape at the seven-second mark of the third extra session, Ripon’s 171-pounder dislocated his shoulder during the match.

“I wrestled (Dakin) at Foothill and he was tough,” Mackey said. “We were back and forth on points and it came down to the overtime. My shoulder popped out twice. It hurt, but I was so happy to come out with a win.”

While Mackey battled through the injury to cement an automatic state qualification, when he tried to move toward a third-place Masters finish, the pain was too much to be effective on the mat.

“He’s had the problem all year long,” Ripon head coach Glen White said. “It’s both shoulders, actually, but the one in particular. Ryan wanted to wrestle consolation semi’s and we let him try it, but as soon as we saw it was giving him a lot of problems, we had to let go of it.”

Following the default, Mackey immediately went about the business of preparing for Bakersfield as he left his coaches at UOP and headed to the chiropractor.

Prior to the Dankin match, Mackey won a do-or-die showdown with Mesa Verde’s Austin Wilson, collecting a fall at the 1-minute, 27-second mark of the third period.

Mackey has a long history of slow starts at Masters Tournaments – three years to be exact – so getting the Wilson win out of the way early and with as little bumps in the road as possible was key.
Mackey worked his favorite move, the banana splits, to get the win.

“We’ve only had two kids make it back-to-back, and Ryan’s the second one,” White said. “We’re really excited. We kind of expected him to be there this year, but after that first-round loss, we were a little nervous.

“When his back’s against the wall, he seems to wrestle his best. But I hope that’s not the case next week. I’d like to see him win the matches that he’s supposed to.”

Mackey’s stated goal all along was to finish fifth or better at the state tournament, eclipsing Martin Beeler’s 2006 sixth-place finish to become the highest placing wrestler in Ripon history.

In order to get there though, not only will Mackey have to get healthy in a hurry, he’s also going to have to get back into the room.

“I attribute a lot of my wrestling to (Ripon assistant coach) Chance (White),” Mackey said. “He goes over everything with me, so I have to thank him for a lot of it.

“I also have to thank the White family and coach (Keith) Rangel. They’ve all pushed me and motivated me to be better.”

White says the injury could be a blessing in disguise.

Not only was Mackey able to avoid the wear and tear of two more matches against top-flight opponents, but he also has a little history on his side.

“We had a similar situation three years ago with Beeler,” White said. “He also had a shoulder and had to default out. He finished sixth (at Masters) and ended up sixth in state. So you never know what can happen.

“We just want Ryan to be able to wrestle and not have to sit and watch.”
But if there’s one Ripon wrestler that has proven he has the chops to turn a bad situation good, it’s Mackey.

“This tournament was rough, beginning with the (first round) loss,” he said. “But having to fight back every year – words can’t really describe how much that means to me.”

The state tournament will be held Friday and Saturday at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.

Mackey was the area’s lone state qualifier, and the only wrestler to compete Friday.

Two Valley Oak League wrestlers, Oakdale’s Shane Tate (125 pounds) and Charlie Gilstrap (215) earned trips to the championship finals, and both came away with section titles.

Vacaville won the overall team point standings, and the Mustangs finished third.