State wrestling | 3 Buckaroos

Pendleton wrestlers, from left, Aiden Patterson (170 pounds), Kirk Liscom (182) and Shawn Yeager (152), have transferred their success on the football field this year to the wrestling mat. The trio is part of the 14-man team the Buckaroos sent to the 5A state tournament.

It’s not often you find a group of athletes who, in one school year, have had the success of Pendleton seniors Aiden Patterson, Shawn Yeager and Kirk Liscom.

The trio of linebackers helped the Bucks to the 5A state football semifinals for the first time since 1977, and now, all three have punched their tickets to the 5A state wrestling tournament.

“They are three completely different personalities that work together,” Pendleton wrestling coach Fred Phillips said. “Shawn is the most natural leader of the bunch, Kirk is the smartest and hardest worker of the bunch, and Aiden is the best athlete of the three that people gravitate to.”

The trio is part of a 14-man contingent representing the Bucks at state this weekend at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.

“Fourteen kids is great,” Phillips said. “The first year, I took six. We have the right kids at the right weights. It will be a good time. I hope they are excited to be there and see what they can do, not just happy to be there.”

The 3 Buckaroos

Patterson was the only one of the three to win his first match at state Friday. He pinned Wyatt Miller of Wilsonville in 1:21 at 170 pounds to advance.

“I got a pretty good draw,” said Patterson, who was third at the Intermountain Conference district tournament.

Patterson said while he enjoys both sports, wrestling is the hardest, by far.

“On the football field, I trust my teammates are going to be there, and everybody is pretty good about knowing what is going on,” Patterson said. “Wrestling is completely different. You are on your own, that’s why it is such a hard sport. You have to bend them (opponents) against their will. The kids on basketball court, they don’t know what hard work is.”

Patterson, who was a first-team all-state running back, has signed to play football at Western Oregon University. Wrestling in college was never a thought.

“There are some kids out there who are just wrestlers,” Patterson. “Wrestling in college is death. Those guys are crazy. It’s not for me.”

Yeager, who finished third at 152 pounds at the Intermountain Conference finals, is making his first trip to state.

“I broke my leg in four spots playing football last year and didn’t get to wrestle at all,” Yeager said. “It’s been a crazy senior year. We have been looking forward to it since we were little kids.”

While football is Yeager’s preferred sport (he has signed to play at Eastern Oregon University), he has wrestled since he was a little boy. He likes both sports.

“Wrestling is one-on-one,” he said. “It’s all about you on the mat.”

Yeager opened state against Jacob Jones of Dallas. He and Jones already have tangled this year.

“He worked me pretty good at the (Oregon) Classic,” Yeager said before state. “It’s not a good draw for me. But I’m excited for it. Anything can happen at any time.”

Jones came out on top again, pinning Yeager in 1:52.

Though he won’t win a state title, Yeager said he takes his role as a team leader seriously.

“We are seniors,” he said. “We have to set the tone. If we don’t work hard, the freshmen will think they don’t have to. I’m a team leader, and I take that to heart.”

Liscom is the most squared away of the trio. He has accepted an appointment to the Naval Academy and will report in June.

He was a first-team all-state linebacker, and placed third at the IMC district tournament at 182 pounds.

Liscom went 1-2 at state last year, and even though he lost his first match Friday to Trevor Fulton of Ashland 12-2, he has high hopes of staying alive a little longer this year.

“I think I can place at state if I wrestle exceedingly well,” he said.

If not, he hopes his leadership will inspire his teammates.

“Growing up, I was never the tallest, the strongest or the most athletic,” Liscom said. “I have achieved what I have through hard work. If you give it your all, you can achieve whatever you want to.”

Liscom has no plans to play spring sports, so this weekend is his last with Patterson and Yeager.

“We have been really close and have had a lot of fun,” Liscom said. “They are both great people and I love them. They are both insane athletes and they work super hard. They push the underclassmen and have had a big influence on those around them.”

Not matter the outcome this weekend for Patterson, Yeager and Liscom, Phillips said he has enjoyed the ride.

“This is their final go-round together,” said Phillips, who also is an assistant football coach. “They are neat kids and I’m glad I got the opportunity to work with them for four years. I have coached those kids nine months of the year, for five or six days a week. They are the type of kids you want to have.”

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