Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
CENTRAL POINT — Whatever momentum Eagle Point had gained by storming through the Rogue Valley Championships in convincing fashion last Saturday was completely wiped away by a determined Crater effort Thursday night in nonleague wrestling.
Celebrating senior night under a spotlight that also saw youngsters from each area's mat club square off before the main event, the Comets completely dominated the Eagles for a 54-12 triumph at Crater High.
Crater won the opening nine matches of the night, allowing only one takedown and six points overall in the process, and routinely earned back points to overwhelm its longtime rival.
"Unfortunately we wrestled like we've been practicing," said EP head coach Kacey McNulty. "We can't live on our laurels, we have to come back and wrestle every week and they took it to us."
"In every aspect of that wrestling match, they beat us, even with guys that we should've clearly won the matches they kept them tight and they destroyed us in every position," added McNulty. "They scored lots of back points, our guys weren't moving, they weren't active and just not prepared."
The Eagles were coming off a resounding effort that saw their varsity team finish first at the Rogue Valley Championships and their second-teamers place fifth overall, but Crater wasn't having any of that Thursday.
"I thought we wrestled pretty good," said Crater head coach Greg Haga. "In a lot of cases it's kind of the glass is half full or half empty. In a couple matches even that we won, we'd been working on things and we didn't do that thing correct and that kinda upsets you, but all in all that's a pretty good performance. They have some tough kids that we beat tonight so that's a good job by our kids."
"It was a long night with some of the little guy stuff but that was a fun match," added Haga, whose team next hosts the Crater Classic on Saturday. "It's always a heated match with Eagle Point and I wouldn't expect anything else."
Jarrett Baker set the tone in the first match at 220 pounds when he pinned Jake Lilley in 82 seconds and, after Derrick Turituri was granted a forfeit at heavyweight, the Comets built their lead to 16-0 when Luke Mackey scored a 10-0 major decision over Mikey Johnson at 106.
Eagle Point scored its first points of the night when Christian Torrico patiently worked through a stalemate for a takedown with 45 seconds to go in the first round against Walter Kurz at 113. Those points, however, would be the only ones earned by the Eagles for quite some time after as Kurz responded with a strong second round and pinned Torrico in three minutes.
Crater's Tyler Thomas (120) and Morgan Walters (126) each picked apart their opponents for technical fall victories, with Thomas using four near-fall efforts to score a 17-0 win with 10 seconds to go against Loren Denn.
Walters was a little quicker in gaining his 16-1 rout of Orlando DeLaCruz, scoring four near-fall efforts as well before having the match capped with an escape only 38 seconds into the third round. The only point allowed by Walters, one of seven seniors celebrated prior to the match, was for a dangerous hold.
Nate Walters picked up where his brother left off at 132, building a 14-0 cushion on Eddie Perez-Rivera before dropping the hammer for a pin in 4:36.
The Comets pushed their lead to 41-0 at 138 when Dillon Ulrey scored a 4-1 decision over Alek Callahan, who managed an escape with 30 seconds to go in the second round but was denied any further scoring.
Crater's Tommy Winningham opened a 7-0 lead on Taylor Mitchell before the Eagle wrestler scored a pair of third-round escapes in a 9-2 decision to make it 44-0 for the Comets.
Eagle Point's Thane Baumer finally broke the drought for his team, in scoring and in final outcome, when he built a 6-1 lead with three takedowns on Jerry DeLaFuente and then sealed the match with another takedown and eventual pin with three seconds left in the second round.
That momentum was short-lived, however, as Crater senior Chase Mackey didn't allow a point in going up 9-0 and ultimately pinning Sean McKenzie in 2:49.
Kody Gray, another Crater senior, pulled out a spirited 13-5 major decision over Hunter Hoeptner at 170 to build the Comets' advantage to 54-6. Gray led 11-1 midway through the second round before Hoeptner battled back with only the sixth takedown of the night for the Eagles to cut into his deficit early in the third round.
At 182, Caleb Ash and Micah Walker might have had the best battle of the night. Ash, an Eagle Point senior, trailed 5-2 heading into the third round but got an early reversal to get right back into the match.
After Walker earned an escape to make it 6-4, Ash came right back with a crisp takedown to tie the match with 1:20 to go. Sensing he was better off on his feet, Ash cut Walker loose to momentarily fall behind again by one point but he got it right back when he worked around Walker for another takedown seconds later. With 55 seconds remaining, Ash chose to ride out Walker and was able to thwart his every move for an 8-7 decision.
The final match of the night had a little bit of everything, and not all of it good as Eagle Point's Johnny Wilkerson was granted an 8-5 decision over Wyatt Haas despite 12 seconds remaining on the clock.
Haas took an early 2-1 advantage and earned a third point on an unsportsmanlike penalty by Wilkerson, who pushed Haas into the bleachers as both wrestlers got caught in a moving tie-up at the edge of the mat. Wilkerson erased his 3-1 deficit with a nice takedown to make it 3-all heading into the second round. After Haas regained a 4-3 lead with an escape, he missed on a shot and Wilkerson worked his way to a takedown and a 5-4 lead before an escape tied it again.
Wilkerson took control in the third with an early escape and another takedown off a sloppy shot by Haas with 13 seconds to go. Things turned nasty in the next instant, however, as Wilkerson slapped a really hard crossface on Haas, who didn't appreciate the hit to the head and wound up biting Wilkerson. After conferring, the referees opted to halt the match then to avoid any further issues.
TEAM SCORE — Crater 54, Eagle Point 12.
106 — Luke Mackey, C, major dec. Mikey Johnson, 10-0; 113 — Walter Kurz, C, pinned Christian Torrico, 3:00; 120 — Tyler Thomas, C, tech. fall Loren Denn, 17-0; 126 — Morgan Walters, C, tech. fall Orlando DeLaCruz, 16-1; 132 — Nate Walters, C, pinned Eddie Perez-Rivera, 4:36.
138 — Dillon Ulrey, C, dec. Alek Callahan, 4-1; 145 — Tommy Winningham, C, dec. Taylor Mitchell, 9-2; 152 — Thane Baumer, EP, pinned Jerry DeLaFuente, 3:57; 160 — Chase Mackey, C, pinned Sean McKenzie, 2:49.
170 — Kody Gray, C, major dec. Hunter Hoeptner, 13-5; 182 — Caleb Ash, EP, dec. Micah Walker, 8-7; 195 — Johnny Wilkerson, EP, dec. Wyatt Haas, 8-5; *220 — Jarrett Baker, C, pinned Jake Lilley, 1:22; 285 — Derrick Turituri, C, won by forfeit.
JV score — Crater 44, Eagle Point 21
* starting weight
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry