HOOD RIVER — Being down 18 points before a dual meet even starts can spell the end for most wrestling teams.
But, then again, the HRV Eagles are not most wrestling teams.
A focused and determined HRV squad overcame three weight-class forfeits Tuesday night to defeat former Mt. Hood Conference rival Reynolds by a score of 40-30.
Competing without two 2002 state qualifiers (Trent Shelton and John Harvey), the Eagles went on a 31-0 run to start the match and finished with five falls to take down the shell-shocked Raiders, who thought they were in a good position to defeat the 2002 MHC champs.
“We just couldn’t wait to get out here and kick some butt,” junior 215-pounder Nigel Bond said. “We’re all pretty pumped to start the season, but I don’t think any of us thought we would dominate them this much.”
Bond, the third-place district finisher at 189 pounds last year, will try to make the jump up to 215 this year. His debut couldn’t have gone any smoother either, as he pinned Josh Henri at the 1:51 mark of the first round.
“I’m comfortable at 215 because that’s where I wrestled all summer,” Bond said, referring to his experience at the national Greco-Roman and freestyle meets. “It should be an easy transition.”
A few of Bond’s teammates are also attempting to make a jump up in weight. Jacobe Krizman, the MHC’s 160-pound district champion, is trying to move up to 171 pounds this year, while Josh Van Ek transitions into the 119-pound class and Jason DeHart moves up to 160.
“I’ve bulked up about 20 pounds since the summer,” said DeHart, another national tournament participant who may be the strongest pound-for-pound wrestler on the team. “Just like coach Brown said, I’m training to win a state title. That’s got to be the goal for everyone here.”
DeHart started off Tuesday’s match with a pin of Travis Mirita at the one-minute mark of round two. He was followed by Krizman, who earned a 14-2 major decision over Jason Fitch, and senior 189-pounder Nate Dethman, who won the most competitive match of the night, 3-2, over Austin Bogart.
That gave HRV a 13-0 lead with two of its stronger wrestlers still to come. Bond earned a quick six points and then sat back and watched senior heavyweight Tommy Owyen embarrass Reynolds’ James Welch with a pin at the 30-second mark of round one.
Adding even more excitement to Tuesday’s match was sophomore Jayde Cannon. The first-year varsity wrestler took charge of his 103-pound match early on, and then finished it off in style with a pin at 1:15 of round two.
Cannon’s fall put HRV up 31-0, and nearly assured the Eagles of a victory with only five matches remaining.
“It feels pretty good to get a pin in my first varsity match,” he said. “I’m the new guy on the team, and I’m happy I was able to contribute right from the start.”
Two more underclassmen, sophomores Zach Bohince (112) and Sal Fuentes (125), each lost by decision, but gave spirited efforts. However, Bohince was wrestling up a weight class and Fuentes was competing in his first varsity match. Senior Eric Avila (130) was the only other casualty on a night that was all HRV.
“It’s not really surprising that we beat these guys like this,” DeHart said. “We were so pumped up inside that locker room before tonight’s match, and I hope we can keep it up. We’re on a mission this year.”
That mission is to win state, but for HRV to reach the pinnacle of the sport, it will need to keep up the intensity in upcoming road matches with Westview (today) and David Douglas (Dec. 12).