Tuesday’s home wrestling match versus Estacada didn’t mean anything to HRV in the Intermountain Conference standings.
But, while the match meant little on paper, it meant everything to the Eagle seniors.
“This was our last match in this gym and we wanted to be sure we finished as winners,” said senior Josh Van Ek, whose 5-2 decision in the last match of the night secured a 33-26 victory for the Eagles.
“There was no way we were going to give up our four-year home win streak, and it took everyone on the team to get it done,” he said.
HRV has not lost a home dual meet in four seasons, and very easily could have on Tuesday against the Rangers, the No. 1 ranked 3A team in the state.
Estacada won three of the first six matches by fall, and took an 18-11 lead into the 160-pound match-up. But junior Jason DeHart gutted out a riveting 3-2 decision over Brandon White to narrow the gap to 18-14.
Senior 171-pounder Jacobe Krizman followed DeHart with a pin to give HRV the lead, and gave way to fellow senior Nate Dethman at 189 pounds. Dethman earned a hard-fought 5-3 decision over Abe Nuño to give HRV a 23-18 lead, before junior Nigel Bond earned a 7-4 decision at 215 pounds.
That set up senior heavyweight Tommy Owyen, who won HRV’s fifth straight match with a 14-1 major decision over Tommy Randall.
Owyen’s near tech-fall gave the Eagles a 30-18 lead with three matches remaining, but HRV would need every last point to put away the Rangers.
Sophomore Jayde Cannon lost a 13-6 decision at 103 pounds and freshman Jose Ramirez suffered a pin at 112, closing the gap to 30-27 with only Van Ek’s 119-pound match remaining.
“I had to win that match,” he said. “There was no two ways about it. It was pretty intense the whole time, and it felt really good to keep the streak alive.”
Van Ek and the Eagle seniors were focused on the streak that has followed them around since their freshman year. Every challenge that has faced them — be it Crook County, Pendleton, Gresham or David Douglas — this group has been able to respond when it matters most.
Six of the seven seniors won their matches Tuesday night, and no one was more happy about it than 145-pounder John Harvey.
“That was the closest match we’ve been in all year,” he said. “It was the closest match we’ve won, anyway. I don’t know if any team has come that close to beating us in our home gym. But there was too much at stake. We were going to win no matter what.”
Harvey posted a 9-3 decision in his match, and was joined in the win column by Eric Avila, who won a 11-7 decision at 125 pounds; Krizman, Dethman, Owyen and Van Ek.
Underclassmen who posted victories Tuesday were Bond, DeHart and Rocky Level, a 140-pound junior who hasn’t lost since Dec. 12.
“This was a really big match for the entire team,” Van Ek said. “All the younger guys wanted to do their best for the seniors, but they also wanted to keep the streak alive. It’s too bad districts aren’t this weekend because we’re ready now.”
HRV is preparing for the IMC district competition Feb. 14-15 at Pendleton High School, and has one thing on its mind.
“To get as many guys as we can to state,” coach Mark Brown said. “If we have to sacrifice a district title to have a chance to win at state, we’ll do it.”
The Eagles are practicing every day between now and Thursday, when they will leave for Pendleton at 2 p.m. For a district preview, see the Feb. 12 edition.