LA GRANDE GRAPPLERS HANG TOUGH WITH ONTARIO
In a see-saw dual Wednesday with each team taking turns losing, then grabbing back the momentum, the La Grande wrestling squad showed they can compete with the rest of the Greater Oregon League.
The La Grande wrestlers, a young team last year, demonstrated to Ontario and Riverside that they certainly can't be taken for granted this season.
Ontario had to battle to just nip the La Grande boys at the end 40-36.
The La Grande wrestlers outpointed Ontario 30-28 in actual matches wrestled, but lost the dual because of a pair of forfeits due to weight classes not being filled.
"Against Ontario, we wrestled with a lot of heart. There was a lot of fight," said coach Matt Wolcott.
La Grande also wrestled Riverside Wednesday, and this one wasn't quite as close, with the Pirates winning 48-27. Ontario beat Riverside 46-30.
Wolcott said the Riverside wrestlers were able to avoid pins against some of the better La Grande wrestlers, which helped the Pirates' point total.
"That was a good job by Riverside. They came to wrestle," said Wolcott.
Kelley Burgess won with a pin at 130 pounds to give La Grande its first points of the Ontario dual.
After Dino May won his 140-pound match 10-4 and Chris Tinnin won his 160-pound match 6-2, the teams were tied at 18-18.
Dennis O'Reilly fought a tough battle at 171 pounds and hung on until the end against Ontario's Todd Smith, losing 20-8 to make the score 18-22.
Sean Crow came back at 189 pounds and won his match with a pin to give La Grande a 24-22 lead. Kenrik Neustel padded the lead to 30-22 with a pin at 215 pounds.
Tyrell Grove (275) and Steven Conklin (103) were pinned to give Ontario a 34-30 lead.
D.J. May came back and pinned his opponent at 112 pounds to give La Grande a 36-34 lead.
Zach Paredes was pinned by his Ontario opponent for the final score of 40-36.
Against Riverside, La Grande got into a huge hole, and looked as though would dig out of it.
Riverside built up a lead of 24-6 thanks to a couple of forfeits and pins.
Michael Godfrey won his match 9-4 at 152 pounds and Tinnin won his 4-0 to make the score 24-12. These were matches that Godfrey and Tinnin both dominated, but their opponents just managed to avoid pins.
O'Reilly gave La Grande a big boost with a pin to cut Riverside's lead to 24-18.
Crow had the heartbreaking match of the night. Crow pretty much controlled his opponent, Zach Parton, for two rounds, and very nearly had a pin at the end of the second round, but Parton was saved by the buzzer.
In the beginning of the third round, Parton quickly got position on Crow and pinned him to give Riverside a 30-18 lead. That was the turning point of the La Grande-Riverside dual.
Neustel won his match 5-2, but D.J. May, Tyrell Grove and Paredes were pinned for the final margin.
Wolcott said that while these league matches count for seeding, the important meet is district Feb. 13 and 14 in Baker City.