Wrestling: Vann wins state title and Medford claims second at state tournament

The wrestling team wrapped up their season with several wrestlers competing at the state tournament, and legendary coach Jeff Zerba announces his retirement after 33 years of coaching


Clarion photo Courtesy of the Wrestling Team

Warrior wrestlers who took first place at the districts meet: Left to Right: Connor Smeller, Josh Sonnichsen, Adrian Anaya, Logan Medford, Haley Vann. At the state tournament, Vann won her third state title, and Medford took second.

The best of Cleveland’s wrestlers competed at the OSAA 6A Wrestling State Championships, which concluded on Feb. 26 at Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The boys’ team finished in 19th place, with two athletes placing and one finalist. The girls team finished in fourth place. All three girls who made the trip to the Coliseum placed, with senior Haley Vann capping off her career with a third consecutive state title in the 130 pound weight class.

The boys and girls teams each were led by a senior with a stellar wrestling career for Cleveland, with Vann leading the Warrior girls and Logan Medford for the boys team. Both athletes have been some of the greatest to put on the singlet for Cleveland.

Out of the 11 Warrior boys to make state, Medford and senior Josh Sonnichsen were the only ones to place, with Medford finishing second in the 138 pound weight class, and Sonnichsen taking sixth place at 185 pounds.

Along with Vann’s title, sophomore Maya Kruger and Izzy Herring took fourth and third place finishes in the 135 and 155 pound weight classes.

With title number three, and her first one at the Coliseum, Vann ended her senior year as one of the best to wear the green and yellow for Cleveland, and one of the best wrestlers ever in Oregon. Since losing her opening match in 2021, Vann accomplished 77 consecutive wins and three straight titles. Vann has been an inspiration to female wrestlers, which she takes pride in.

“I love watching everyone that comes up to me and says that they’ve watched me as a way to take inspiration,” Vann said.

Medford just missed out on his first state title, losing the men’s 138 pound final to Grants Pass sophomore Owen Hull. Medford acknowledges that the loss does sting, but is still grateful for his wrestling career.

“Yeah, it sucks to lose that one. But hats off to Owen. He’s an incredible wrestler and he’s got another two seasons ahead of him,” Medford said. “I’ve faced such good competition during my wrestling career. There’s been good and bad experiences, but overall I’m happy with what I accomplished at Cleveland, and I wouldn’t change anything.”

Coach Jeff Zerba announced last week that he was retiring after 33 years of coaching Warrior wrestlers.

“It has been my honor and pleasure to have spent my time coaching such outstanding individuals, many who have gone on to great successes in their lives,” Zerba announced in a statement posted to the team’s Facebook page. “I am so proud of what we have built and accomplished over the years, including 19 District Championships.

“When I came to Cleveland, I was only planning to stay for a year and that turned into a lifetime. I consider myself lucky to have worked in the Cleveland community all these years and I am so grateful for the opportunities and support I have enjoyed throughout my career,” Zerba said.

With Zerba, Medford, and Vann all leaving, a new era at Cleveland begins next winter. But with the foundation they laid, there’s no reason to be surprised if the Warriors’ success continues into 2024.