When asked to describe himself as a wrestler, Philomath senior Keltin Benson replied simply, "wormy."
Wrestlers from other schools may not see an imposing, muscle-bound opponent on the mat when matched up with Benson. But they would be foolish to believe they have a decided advantage based on first appearances.
That's where "wormy" comes in.
"I'm extremely flexible, so I can utilize that to my ability," Benson said following a pin in 2:48 over Carlos Oseguera of Corvallis Wednesday night in a home double dual. "I'm very flexible with my shoulders so I can get out of a lot of pin holds that way. With my lack of intense muscles around my body, I can still bend and contort, and I'm a little bit faster."
PHS coach Troy Woosley indicated Benson's abilities on the mat are definitely unique.
"He's always bunched up and he squirms his way into a better position," Woosley said.
Plagued with missing wrestlers because of a nasty illness making its way around campus, Philomath wasn't at full strength for the duals against Gladstone and Corvallis. Forfeits were a theme for the evening with the Warriors losing to the Gladiators on a tiebreaker and to the Spartans, 52-30.
Blake Brouwer, Tony Rath, Jayden Jensen, Dylan Donnell, Issiah Blackburn and Austin Murphree were all held out of the competition.
Woosley will take his team to the very competitive Oregon Classic in Redmond Friday and Saturday.
"We're going in limping, but most of them are supposed to get cleared by Friday," Woosley said.
Benson has been a pleasant success story for the Warriors so far this season with a 14-5 record. He didn't have an opponent at 132 pounds in the dual against Gladstone, so the victory over Oseguera represented his only action of the evening.
"I've wrestled him before, a couple of years ago," Benson said. "I decided to go back to that and remember what he did then."
Benson's scouting of his opponent paid off.
"He's kinda been sticking with the same basics as to what you first learn," Benson said. "He stuck with riding high and focusing more on the shoulders than the hips when he was on top, so I was able to utilize that."
Benson's ultimate goal is keep the momentum going and secure a spot in this year's state wrestling tournament.
"That's always the No. 1 goal, but I'm taking it one tournament at a time, one match at a time," he said. "You've got to win, win, win."
Woosley said Benson has really figured out how to rack up the points.
"He's winning the close matches, which never has happened," Woosley said. "He's just scoring a lot of points. He's never out of it. If he gets past that first 30 seconds, he's hard to beat. It's just like he almost has to have a wakeup call and then boom, it's on."
Benson saw some success during his underclassmen seasons, but couldn't finish strong to make it to Portland. He believes a stronger approach could make the difference this time around.
"My weight class tends to have strong kids from our region in it than the others, so I just have to go into it with more intensity," he said. "I've been doing that over the course of the last couple of years and it's definitely been showing because I'm starting to win more and more."
Benson entered Wednesday's action after taking the title at 132 in the Screamin' Eagle tournament at Santiam Christian, a performance that included victories over previous state qualifiers.
"He's just been scoring points and he's pretty healthy," Woosley said. "He's comfortable where he's at, he's not cutting weight. It's just a great success story."
In the dual against Gladstone, the two teams ended in a 30-30 tie. But the Gladiators were awarded the victory on the tiebreaker, which comes down to most pins. There were just five bouts on the mat that materialized and of those, the Warriors lost four.
Senior Joey Howell had the lone victory, a decisive pin in just 27 seconds at 160.
The Warriors and Spartans then matched up later in the evening. Seven of the bouts were forfeits with five of those going to Corvallis. When it came down to actual matches, the Spartans held a slim 22-18 edge in points.
Benson had the team's first win against Corvallis. He shot out to an 8-0 lead in the first period and was up on points, 10-0, when the pin occurred with 1:12 left in the second.
Howell followed with a pin over Corvallis' Izaak Worsch. Howell, who is unbeaten at 17-0, trailed on points, 2-1, at the end of the first period before getting the win in the second.
At 195, junior Brooks Stearns pinned Cade O'Brien in 2:47 for Philomath's other victory. Stearns trailed 2-0 on a takedown 23 seconds into the opening period but he almost immediately pulled off a reversal and then was awarded two more points on a nearfall. He followed in the second period with the pin.
PHS Double Dual
Wednesday at Philomath
Gladstone 30, Philomath 30
(GHS won on tiebreaker)
106 — Double forfeit
113 — Double forfeit
120 — Double forfeit
126 — Hunter McCaskill, PHS, won by forfeit
132 — Keltin Benson, PHS, won by forfeit
138 — Matt Hamlet, PHS, won by forfeit
145 — Shay Porter, GHS, p. Cooper Latz, 0:39
152 — Double forfeit
160 — Joey Howell, PHS, p. Tyler Noreen, 0:27
170 — Chael Williams, GHS, won by forfeit
182 — Connar Kohn, PHS, won by forfeit
195 — Jacob Wanlass, GHS, p. Brooks Stearns, 1:10
220 — Austin Heywood, GHS, p. Kane Rust, 1:54
285 — Stefan Smith, GHS, p. Noah Estes, time NA
Corvallis 52, Philomath 30
106 — Connor Williams, CHS, won by forfeit
113 — Aziz Alshuwaiey, CHS, won by forfeit
120 — Ian Hale, CHS, won by forfeit
126 — Alejandro Villicana, CHS, p. Hunter McCaskill, 3:55
132 — Keltin Benson, PHS, p. Carlos Oseguera, 2:48
138 — Matt Hamlet, PHS, won by forfeit
145 — Serrano Patrick, CHS, p. Cooper Latz, 1:09
152 — Caleb Nylin, CHS, won by forfeit
160 — Joey Howell, PHS, p. Izaak Worsch, 3:25
170 — Christopher Polanco, CHS, won by forfeit
182 — Porter Johnson, CHS, dec. Connar Kohn, 13-0
195 — Brooks Stearns, PHS, p. Cade O'Brien, 2:47
220 — Jared Minter, PHS, won by forfeit
285 — Garrett Birken, CHS, dec. Noah Estes, 10-3
132 — Joshua Patton, CHS, p. Morgan French, PHS, 2:47
182 — Sirus Garcia, CHS, p. Randy Tipsword, PHS, 5:28
182 — Ricardo Holmes, CHS, dec. Randy Tipsword, PHS, 3-1
220 — Max Meyer, GHS, dec. Jared Minter, PHS, 9-3
220 — Max Meyer, GHS, dec. Luis Vargas-Juarez, PHS, 9-1