Sometimes you have to call things for what they are, and the 56-7 thumping Hermiston wrestling dished out Thursday night was just that; a thumping.
With three returning state champions in their lineup, several more top-five placers and an Oregon 5A No. 1 ranking, the Bulldogs were the clear favorite to win Thursday’s dual meet at Hood River Valley High School. Adding to the tough road ahead for the Eagles were forfeits at 113 lbs. and 182 lbs., which gave Hermiston a 12-point lead from the get-go.
At 106 lbs., Jessica DeHart started things off with one of the most exciting matches of the night that ended with her scoring a takedown and coming dangerously close to scoring near fall points to tie or take the lead as the final seconds ticked away. The match ended 4-2 in favor of Hermiston.
Next up at was sophomore Christian Marquez, who gave AJ Garcia (ranked No. 3 at 113 lbs.) a run for his money in the 120 lb. weight class. The match was a fast-paced exchange of takedowns and escapes, but in the end Marquez essentially beat himself by giving up two separate takedowns on attempted throws that went awry.
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” he said about the 11-9 loss. “I know I can beat him; I just didn’t wrestle smart.”
At 126 lbs., Jorge Ortega faced 2011 state runner-up Isaac Aguilar, who picked up a first-round pin after a brief tussle. At 145-lbs., Chas Peterson put up a good fight but eventually faced the same fate against two-time state champion Tyler Berger, as did Kyle Weseman at 160 lbs. against defending state champion Abraham Rodriguez and Brandon Dominguez at 285 lbs. against senior and defending state champion Jake Batease.
Charlie Mallon used quick footwork and two solid ankle picks to grab the first win for HRV at 132 lbs. over Roman Corona. The 14-7 major decision was sparked by a five point combo Mallon got in the first minute of the match using a quick low-level ankle pick that put Corona on his back. Mallon scored two more takedowns in the second period — one off the same pick — to take an 11-1 lead going into the third. Corona’s stamina paid off in the final period as he managed to score three takedowns before the end of the match.
Andrew DeHart fought through a tough match against senior Beau Gleed at 138 lbs. and gets credit for wriggling out of a painful double-arm-bar in the second round that would have pinned most wrestlers. Gleed finished with the 11-2 major decision. Steven Swafford fought through a similarly tough match at 170 lbs. that ended with a 14-5 loss.
In the second win for the Eagles, Cesar Zarate wrestled a solid match and used speed on his feet to pick up a 15-4 major decision at 152 lbs. The No. 5-ranked junior looks promising to improve on his sixth-place finish at last year’s state championships.
At 195 lbs., No. 2-ranked Nick Morgan had his hands full with freshman phenom and the nation’s No. 10-ranked Sam Colbray, who squeaked by with a 4-2 win. The match, as anticlimactic as it was to watch, was the best of the night in terms of technique and brute strength. Both wrestlers will be favorites to claim this year’s state title, and a rematch in the tournament will be one not to miss.
Finally, at 220 lbs., Juan Karlos Hernandez butted heads with No. 4-ranked Caleb Batease but would eventually lose the match by a single point — and the only point of the match — scored off an escape at the beginning of the third round.
“What can I say, they looked phenomenal,” coach Trent Kroll said about the Bulldogs. “Once our guys got behind we changed our wrestling instead of sticking to the game plan; that’s something we need to work on.”
n The team wrestles this weekend at the Oregon Classic in Redmond and returns home Jan. 25 to host a dual against Mt. View High School (varsity starts at 7 p.m.). For the latest Oregon 5A varsity state rankings, visit www.theowf.net/5a_rankings.