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CENTRAL POINT — North Medford's Reid Shipley and Kaden Johnson tried to set the tone for the Black Tornado wrestling team Wednesday night but such matters are always tenuous when dealing with fifth-ranked Crater, especially on its home floor.
The senior Shipley took care of business in short order to open the dual meet at 170 pounds, scoring a fall in only 56 seconds, and Johnson followed with another pin at 182 to build momentum. That 12-0 lead was exciting for the North Medford faithful but ultimately turned around by the deeper and more experienced Comets, who used six pins to eventually secure a 48-27 triumph.
Only three matches in the Southern Oregon Hybrid dual went as far as the third round in the fast-paced matchup.
"We definitely emphasized hustle during the week," the top-ranked Shipley said of North's preparation. "We knew (Crater) was going to get after us and have some kids that have been wrestling for a lot more years because it's more of the culture here than it is in Medford. No matter what happened, we wanted to come in here and get after it. I think that's what we did at some weights but once we lost the hustle, all it took was one match and the momentum was lost."
Johnson and Trent Wilson switched places at 182 and 195, respectively, for the Black Tornado and that move appeared to pay off when the second-ranked Johnson pinned Micah Walker in 3 minutes, 14 seconds. Wilson and Crater's Wyatt Haas battled to a stalemate in the first round but Haas caught Wilson off guard midway through the second round with an escape, two-point takedown and eventual two-point near fall for a sudden 5-0 lead.
Haas rode that advantage out for an 8-3 decision and helped break up a string of weights that had concerned Crater head coach Greg Haga entering the match.
"To be real honest, I was real concerned going in," said Haga, whose team edged North Medford by only 11/2 points at the Sierra Nevada Classic in Reno. "Before I saw their total lineup, I thought they might get five matches, maybe six. When we got one out of those first four, I was pretty happy. Last week Wyatt Haas wrestled (Eagle Point's Johnny) Wilkerson tough and this week he beats Wilson and did a great job for us."
Crater's Jarrett Baker, ranked sixth at 220, shook off an early accidental eye poke by Jacob Kasper and a 2-0 deficit entering the second round for a stunning pin in 2:43, and heavyweight Derrick Turituri dominated his matchup with Avion Maloney and gained a pin in 69 seconds to give the Comets their first lead at 15-12.
Austin Mitchell put North Medford back ahead at 106 with a strong showing against Luke Mackey, earning a fall in 1:31, but the Black Tornado couldn't build on that momentum as Walter Kurz of Crater scored a takedown one minute into his match with Caleb Dix at 113 and the final five minutes proved to be nothing more than a stalemate in a narrow decision.
With the match tied at 18-all, Tyler Pearson gave North Medford its final lead of the night by building a 5-0 lead on Jordan Saling and finishing off the 120-pound match with a fall in 3:20.
After that, as expected, Crater flexed its muscle with three straight pins by Morgan Walters (126), Nate Walters (132) and Tommy Winningham (145) and a forfeit to Dillon Ulrey at 138. Once the dust settled, the Comets held a dominant 42-24 lead with two matches remaining.
"They're so tough in the middle weights, it's hard to compete with what they have there right now," said North Medford head coach Nolan Harris. "They definitely exposed us for where we're weak and they're strong in that middleweight classification."
Working fast, Morgan Walters pinned Nico Baldovino with five seconds to go in the first round and Nate Walters built a 14-4 advantage on Austin Runyan through one period before finishing him off with a pin at 2:20.
North Medford rolled the dice by opting to give Ulrey a forfeit and push Cole Hornbrook up a weight to take on Winningham and the two put on a good show before Winningham ultimately secured a pin with 14 seconds remaining in the second round. Winningham led only 2-0 through one period and pushed that to 4-0 early in the second round before Hornbrook finally was able to score a reversal as he used both feet to pry Winningham's left hand free from his leg and scoot around behind the Crater freshman.
Undaunted, Winningham turned the tables seconds later for his own reversal and put Hornbrook in a pinning position that he finally secured at 3:46.
The best back-and-forth match of the night belonged to North Medford's Wyatt Westfall and Crater's Jerry DeLaFuente at 152. Westfall led 2-1 through one round but the lead exchanged hands twice over a 20-second span in the second round with back-to-back reversals. Westfall built a 6-3 cushion to open the third round when he patiently built his base from the bottom position and secured a reversal, but DeLaFuente gave himself a chance with an escape that made it 6-4 and a restart with both up and 19 seconds remaining. DeLaFuente, who was battling a shoulder injury, went in late for an all-or-nothing shot and Westfall turned it away to secure an 8-4 decision at the final horn.
"Wyatt Westfall, I was really impressed with him," said Harris. "As a freshman to come out in hostile territory here and really set the pace of the match was great."
Crater senior Chase Mackey ended the night with a dominant showing against Isaac Grether at 160, opening a 5-0 lead through one round before finally finishing Grether off with a pin in 2:58.
The Comets expect to learn more about the status of senior 170-pounder Kody Gray today after an arthroscopic examination on his knee. Gray, who was runner-up at 145 in last year's state tournament, tweaked his knee this past weekend and was on crutches for Wednesday's dual. Crater has already lost senior Tyler Montague for the season after last year's state qualifier tore muscles off his hip bone at the Army Strong Coast Classic.
TEAM SCORE — Crater 48, North Medford 27.
106 — Austin Mitchell, NM, pinned Luke Mackey, 1:31; 113 — Walter Kurz, C, dec. Caleb Dix, 2-0; 120 — Tyler Pearson, NM, pinned Jordan Saling, 3:20; 126 — Morgan Walters, C, pinned Nico Baldovino, 1:55; 132 — Nate Walters, C, pinned Austin Runyan, 2:20.
138 — Dillon Ulrey, C, won by forfeit; 145 — Tommy Winningham, C, pinned Cole Hornbrook, 3:46; 152 — Wyatt Westfall, NM, dec. Jerry DeLaFuente, 8-4; 160 — Chase Mackey, C, pinned Isaac Grether, 2:58.
*170 — Reid Shipley, NM, pinned Jacob Young, :56; 182 — Kaden Johnson, NM, pinned Micah Walker, 3:14; 195 — Wyatt Haas, C, dec. Trent Wilson, 8-3; 220 — Jarrett Baker, C, pinned Jacob Kasper, 2:43; 285 — Derrick Turituri, C, pinned Avion Maloney, 1:09.
* starting weight