HRV wrestling coach Mark Brown has had Dec. 13 circled on his calendar for months.
Not only did Thursday mark the first Mt. Hood Conference meet of the season. It also meant that defending league champ and archrival Gresham was coming to town.
HRV and Gresham have a storied history, and aside from the district meet Feb. 15-16, this would be the last time these two conference foes would face one another.
What’s more, the Eagles have been unable to outmuscle the Gophers since 1994, which spans Brown’s entire coaching tenure at HRV.
Throw out the history books.
Brown’s Eagles not only ended the Gophers’ streak, they showed them who will be the team to beat in 2002 with a lopsided 40-21 win at HRVHS.
“We’re shooting for the district title this year because it’s our last year in the MHC,” senior 215-pounder Nathan Nash said. “We want to go out with a bang.”
Nash had one of the more convincing decisions of the meet, pinning Andrew Pennick with the “honeymooner” in just 48 seconds to give the Eagles six points. (In the team competition, a fall counts as six points, a decision as three points, and a major decision as four points.)
Nash described the honeymooner as a rare maneuver in which a wrestler disables both the opponent’s legs and drives his hip into the back so the opponent is immobilized for a pin.
“I was pretty pumped up to start a win streak since I hadn’t won a match yet this year,” Nash said. “When (Jason) Macioroski lost, it really got me going.”
Felipe Magana, the team’s top 140-pounder, got the meet off to a solid start, coming back from a 4-3 deficit in the final 20 seconds against No. 1 district seed Dan Medford to win 5-4.
Up-and-coming 145-pounder John Harvey kept the Eagles rolling in the second match by subduing another No. 1 district seed, Casey Baldwin, by a score of 4-2. Harvey earned the final point in round three by forcing Baldwin to grab the edge of the mat, which resulted in a technical violation.
Harvey was exuberant about the win, and likes his team’s chances in the district this year.
“Coming in, we all felt like we could win, but I don’t think any of us expected to beat the league champs like this,” he said. “The spirit on this team is amazing and I think it’s going to be a really exciting year.”
Another spirited performance for the Eagles came from 152-pound Trent Shelton, who rendered Tony Contreras helpless in just 43 seconds and pinned him for six points. Shelton’s win gave HRV a 12-0 lead after just three matches, and brought up the fiery 160-pounder Jacobe Krizman.
Krizman, who had been wrestling at 171 pounds until this meet, used his superior quickness and toughness to earn a 15-4 major decision over Nick Santiago. The win included three near falls (worth two or three points) in the final round, and put the Eagles in a commanding position at 16-0.
That brought up the defending district champ, Macioroski, who had an opportunity to score a knockout punch for the Eagles after just five matches. But junior Jeff Geurts gave the Gophers a fighting chance with an 8-3 decision.
However, Nate Dethman put an end to any thoughts the Gophers had about a comeback, grinding out a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Ryan Lucas in the 189-pound class. Dethman’s varsity teammate, Nigel Bond, was unable to compete Thursday because of illness.
With the Eagles up 19-3 and just eight matches to go — six after the teams traded forfeits in the 275- and 103-pound classes — all Nash had to do was earn a decision and the celebration could begin.
Surpassing even his own high hopes for the match, Nash crippled Pennick and notched a six-point fall for HRV to give the team a 25-3 lead.
After the Gophers forfeited the unlimited match against No. 1 district seed Tommy Owyen, and the Eagles forfeited the 103 class due to an injury to Zach Bohince, 112-pound Josh Van Ek made the win official with a 2-1 win over Travis Aplet.
HRV lost its final three matches of the night — 119-pound Esteban Avila, 125-pound Caleb Smith and 135-pound David Posey — but picked up another forfeit in the 130-pound class. Eric Avila would have filled in for the injured Rocky Level, but the Gophers couldn’t field a competitor.
HRV’s next meet is the Best in the West tournament Dec. 21-22 in Pasco, Wash.