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Fast start fuels North victory

North Medford High's wrestling team started fast and finished in a festive mode after upsetting Eagle Point, 33-27, on Thursday night in a Southern Oregon Conference dual match in the North gym.

We finally got somebody big, said North Medford 103-pounder Josh Tarolli, who got the Black Tornado off to a quick start with a pin in 5:27 over Brian Hayes in the opening match of the night.

The Black Tornado proved it meant business in the 112-match when Lionel Leon pinned Levi Breeding in 2:50.

It was big to get those two pins so we could offset the expected pin by John Nelmes in the 119- pound match, a smiling North Medford coach Ken Thompson said. That way, we were still ahead (after Nelmes' pin over North's Josh Baker) .

Spurred by the positive start, the Black Tornado continued to win big matches after Nelmes' pin, which was accomplished in 2:36.

Juston Menteer (125) of North pinned Mike Lopez of the Eagles in 1:41. It gave Menteer a 23-1 season record.

Consecutive wins by North' T.J. Winningham at 130, Brendan Currey at 135 and Mike Gamble at 140 allowed North to build a 28-6 lead.

But the Eagles started to claw back with a win by Evan Pogue at 145 over Iosh Curtright (4-2).

Nick Lennert's 5-3 win over Jamie Mannenbach, followed by a 7-6 win by George Wheeler over Bret Thomas at 152, hiked the Black Tornado lead to 31-9.

But the Eagles soared back with force in winning the final four matches. Josh Hollinger decisioned Josh Badcock 4-2 at 171; Jason Welch pinned Mat Haight at 189; Blake Cam stopped Josh Harley of North 6-4 at 215 and Eagle Point's Robbie Fletes finished off the late surge with a pin over Tim Rhodes at heavyweight.

I wanted to be wrestling for the match, said Fletes. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

We were flat and obviously not ready to wrestle early in the match, said Fletes. I don't know why.

Eagle Point coach Chris Lucas declined to comment after the Eagles fell to North Medford in a dual match for the first time since 1992.

North's Thompson had plenty to say. It's my biggest win in two years as a head coach, he said. When Dave Adams quit two years ago as head coach, we had already started something I knew would be good.

I don't deserve all the credit for bringing this program back, said Thompson said. Dave deserves his fair share, and so do some other coaches and a lot of kids who have worked very hard.

Tarolli was happy with his opening win over Hayes at 103.

I knew that kid was tough but I thought I could beat him, said Tarolli. We've been working pretty hard in practice, and that paid off.

The win is sweet. Considering how North hadn't beat Eagle Point in a long time, it's double sweet.

Winningham said his win over Ryan Bray (15-11) at 130 set the tone for North's fourth SOC win against two losses in dual matches.

We haven't peaked yet, he said. We got second in the Rogue Valley tournament and now we beat Eagle Point.

It's nice to get a win over a tough opponent.

North Medford's Brendan Currey, left, puts Eagle Point's Matt Bray on his shoulders en route to a triumph by decision. - Photo by Andy Atkinson