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North slips past South

North Medford sophomore Robert Ross certainly wasn't lacking confidence when he stepped on the mat to face South Medford senior Jacob Henrichs, the state's 13th-ranked 215-pounder.

Despite losing to Henrichs at the district meet last year, Ross earned a 10-4 win over Henrichs on Thursday at South Medford (4-7, 4-3 SWC), which clinched the dual-meet victory for North (9-3, 5-2 SWC). The Black Tornado eventually won, 34-26.

"I just went out there with the mind-set that I was going to beat him," Ross said. "I knew I could do it. I was able to take him down easier than I thought I would. I just overpowered him.

"I know I'm going to beat him again at districts."

Ross started the season at heavyweight and just recently switched to 215. He had his breakthrough match last week, pinning Roseburg's Joe Hennricks.

North coach Nolan Harris said Ross was ready to go from the start on Thursday.

"There was a moment we didn't know if we were going to bump him up to heavyweight and juggle our lineup a little bit," North coach Nolan Harris said. "When he first stepped out there, he said, 'I want 215.' Right then, I knew his mind-set was right. I was really impressed."

Ross took a 5-2 lead over Henrichs in the first period on the strength of two takedowns and an escape. Henrichs pulled to within one with a reversal in the second period, but two takedowns by Ross in the third sealed the match.

The win put North in front 28-12 with only two more matches to go.

South coach Sergio Gonzalez said Henrichs, who is 19-6 on the season, looked off from the start.

"He wrestled below par today," Gonzalez said. "Take nothing away from Ross, but I've seen him wrestle a lot better. His balance was way off."

That was one of two matches Gonzalez highlighted that could have swung the momentum to South.

The other came at 135 between South sophomore Michael Rake and North freshman Jessie Hornbrook.

Hornbrook led 6-1 in the third thanks to a takedown, but Rake fought back in to make it 6-3. With just seconds remaining, Rake locked Hornbrook in a cradle.

Official Jerry Hall began count and awarded Rake two points at the buzzer. Gonzalez said he thought he saw Hall count to five, which would have tied the match and sent it to overtime.

"With one more second, he would have tied the match, and I'm sure we would have won in overtime," Gonzalez said. "Those two matches would have turned it around."

North Medford had two pins in the meet. Sophomore 145-pounder Ryan Mahoney pinned South sophomore Jon Sitter in 2:23, which gave North its first lead at 12-9. Twelfth-ranked 189-pounder Kody Bonham, a junior, pinned South senior Justin Snoke in 36 seconds to give North a 25-12 lead, setting up Ross' clinching victory.

"It felt great as a team," Bonham said. "They thumped us last year but we came back.

"I was ready the whole night especially because we were slow in the beginning. When it came around to my match, I had to get a win so we could get this win."

South junior Steven Lines, ranked eighth in the state, recorded a technical fall against North junior Dustin Weidman in the final match of the meet at 119.

The Panthers' only pin came in the first match at 125. South sophomore Carlos Gitzen trailed 9-0 entering the third period against North freshman Phil Jovanovic, but Gitzen stormed back and was able to get Jovanovic on his back for the pin with 20 seconds remaining.

South held an early lead at 9-6, but with it tied 12-12 following Ken Hyland's victory at 152 for the Panthers, North proceeded to win the next four matches to pull away.

"It's exciting to come in here and get a victory," Harris said. "They are a tough team, and I think it says a lot about North's kids."

103 — Alex Smith, N, forfeit; 112 — Justin Wolf, S, dec. Edgar Cox, 6-2; 119 — Steven Lines, S, tech. fall Dustin Weidman, 16-1; *125 — Carlos Gitzen, S, pin Phil Jovanovic, 5:40; 130 — Zach Snyder, S, dec. Cody Weidman, 9-5

135 — Jessie Hornbrook, N, dec. Michael Rake, 6-5; 140 — Zach Willits, N, dec. Josh Bokish, 13-8; 145 — Ryan Mahoney, N, pin Jon Sitter, 2:23; 152 — Ken Hyland, S, dec. Cory Haggans, 6-4

160 — Mark Dickison, N, dec. Jordon Townsend, 12-2; 171 — Kade Peden, N, dec. Rob Switzer, 19-12; 189 — Kody Bonham, N, pin Justin Snoke, :36; 215 — Rober Ross, N, dec. Jacob Henrichs, 10-4; 285 — Wylie Brown, S, forfeit.

*Starting Weight

Reach sports reporter Luke Andrews at 776-4469, or e-mail landrews@mailtribune.com

South Medford’s Carlos Gitzen, left, defeats North Medford’s Phil Jovanovic at South Medford High Thursday.