Next in line: Sam Colbray latest of accomplished Hermiston wrestlers

Hermiston’s Sam Colbray, 13, wrestles with coach Terry Thomas Wednesday at a wrestling practice at Hermiston High School. Colbray, a Sandstone Middle School 7th grader, recently won the 12-and-under 160-pound folkstyle national wrestling championship in Tulsa, Okla.

HERMISTON — While some middle school students may spend their free time playing video games or watching television, Sam Colbray prefers to wrestle.

His dedication and hard work has paid off, as he has returned from a trip to the 2011 Cliff Keen Tulsa Nationals wrestling tournament with a national championship (folkstyle) in the under-12 age group at 160 pounds. The championships were held in Tulsa, Okla., on Jan. 22.

This would not be his first national title, as he won his division in 2007 in both freestyle and Greco-Roman in Green Bay, Wisc.

The national title comes on the heels of his winning the state middle school championship earlier this year.

Colbray’s wrestling career began as a seven-year-old, when his father LeRoy took him to a Hermiston Youth Wrestling (HYW) practice.

The elder Colbray is a life-long Hermiston resident and placed fourth at the state wrestling tournament in his senior year at Hermiston High.

The HYW was run by Joe Delgado and Chris McMahon, who saw the potential in the boy.

“You could tell he was very athletic,”?Delgado said. “He has stuck with it and has done very well.”

There is a pretty good history with the HYW, with many future state high school champions, including Joey Delgado, C.J. Dirksen, Curtis Berger, Ben Jorgenson and Bryce McMahon to name a few.

In his second year of wrestling with the club, his father decided to take him out of the area for a tournament.

He ended up placing second at the Reno World tournament in 2005.

Competing with his Sandstone Middle School team, entering out-of-the-area tournaments and wrestling with the HYW, Colbray is a very busy young man.

“His mom (Delta) is missing him a lot now,” his father said. “There are a lot of dedicated parents in this program.”

Sandstone coach Ken Thompson is high on his student-athlete.

“He is an incredible athlete,”?Thompson said. “He understands how to control his body. Some of his talent has been practiced, but a lot is natural ability.”

Colbray has kept himself grounded, despite the accolades, and seems to like going to tournaments outside of Oregon.

“It was enjoyable going down there (to Tulsa) and representing,”?Colbray said. “It was the best of the best. I even got to visit some relatives I didn’t know I had.”

The future of Hermiston wrestling looks very bright with the likes of Sam Colbray coming up.

He is currently ranked No. 1 in his division in?Greco-Roman and No. 2 in freestyle by themat.com.

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