January 28, 2006
With confidence in his eyes and poise on his face, Ricky Schmidt stepped onto the mat and under the spotlight Thursday night for his second varsity appearance this season. And only a couple months ago Schmidt, an exchange student from Germany, stepped onto a wrestling mat for the first time to learn the sport of wrestling.
With a takedown and three nearfall points to his credit, Schmidt led 5-2 after the first round against his Redmond High School opponent. In the second round, Schmidt gave up three nearfall points before getting a reversal to hold a 7-5 lead. The third round came down to conditioning and the will to win. And, to a standing ovation from a Hood River crowd, Schmidt had his hand raised after a 11-7 win.
“I was very tired,” he said after the match. “I was trying with all I have to win. And it feels so good. All the pressure goes away, he raises your hand and the whole gym is yelling. It’s an awesome feeling.”
Unknowingly, Schmidt’s words described precisely why so many wrestlers endure the difficulties of the sport for only six minutes in the spotlight.
“He’s a great kid,” Coach Rick Polkinghorn said about Schmidt. “We never thought he would step up and score points for us at the varsity level. It’s nice to have kids like him on the team.”
The Hood River Valley Wrestling team hosted the Redmond Panthers for a dual meet Thursday night. Schmidt and five other Eagles won their matches in Hood River’s narrow 38-34 loss against one of several solid Intermountain Conference (IMC) teams. The loss put the Eagles at 2-4 in the IMC, with wins over Summit and The Dalles-Wahtonka and losses over Hermiston, Crook County, Mountain View and Redmond.
“The kids wrestled really tough,” Polkinghorn said. “Last year we lost to Redmond 69-6, so we are obviously making big improvements.”
Lightweights Gage Morris and Jose Ramirez kicked off the dual with two wins. Morris pinned his opponent in a cradle and Ramirez battled to a 7-2 decision. The Eagles forfeited at 119, giving up six valuable points.
At 125, Brandon Nakamaura took the fall after battling in the first two and a half rounds. Kevin Dye picked up another six points for the Eagles with corkscrew pinning combination to give Hood River a 15-12 team score.
Redmond was stacked at the middle-weights. After Dye’s pin, the Panthers went on to win five in a row leading up to Schmidt’s match. One of those wins was at 135, where Redmond’s stud and returning 4A State champion Austin Enoch took on senior Leo Castillo.
“I knew who I was going up against,” Castillo said after his loss. “I just wanted to wrestle hard and tough and give him a good match.”
Castillo made the first move, shooting a beautiful high crotch and tackling Enoch onto the mat just out of bounds. Back on their feet, a shot and stocky Enoch used his strength and technique to get an eventual pin over Castillo. The pin did not come without a challenge, however, and Castillo surprised the entire gym — including the Redmond bench — by scoring a reversal and turning Enoch to his back. Enoch rolled through and finished the match at the end of the first round.
“He just overpowered me,” said Castillo. “I’m going to work harder and keep giving it my best.”
In the upper weight classes, the Eagles picked up points from Lucas Mondragon, Cory Miller and Alex Titus to finish the night with 18 points off two pins (from Mondragon and Titus) and a forfeit.
Next up for the Eagles is a road trip to Pendleton High School on Jan. 31, followed by a home dual against Bend on Friday, Feb. 3. Varsity starts at 7:30 p.m.