The La Grande Tigers wrestling team entered Wednesday’s home dual against Ontario ranked third in the state. The visiting Tigers were ranked eighth.
The disparity between the top 10 teams, though, couldn’t have been more extreme.
La Grande won 11 matches — 10 by fall, including seven in a row late in the contest — on the way to a 63-9 win at LHS.
“Our kids came out really tough (Wednesday) night,” LHS Head Coach Klel Carson said. “They were tough on top. It was fun to watch if you were a blue Tiger fan.”
La Grande won the first three matches — a close 5-4 decision by Cody Hibbert (113 pounds) over Alijah Huerta, and wins by fall from Ezra McIntosh (120) and Braden Carson (126) — for a 15-0 lead. Ontario grabbed two of the next three matches — the lone LHS win a pin by Casey McCall (138) — before the hometown Tigers went off. Keith Oswald (152) and Parker Robinson (160) opened the seven-match onslaught with second-round pins. Grayson Livingston (170), Spencer Gerst (182), Chris Woodworth (195) and Lincoln Clark (220) then needed a combined 4:24 to collect four first-round pins, and Gabe Shukle (285) added his own first-round win by fall for a 63-6 lead.
“We beat some really good kids,” the LHS coach said.
Carson added while the big win does seem to indicate a disparity in talent between some of the top teams in the state, LHS will get a more accurate gauge of where it stands at this weekend’s Oregon Classic in Redmond.
“The Classic is basically the state tournament for dual meets,” Carson said. “We’ll find out. It’ll give us a test to see where they’re really at.”
Panthers win five matches
Before the La Grande-Ontario match, the Imbler Panthers took part in a handful of matches against JV wrestlers, collecting five wins, all by fall.
The Panthers earned wins by Logan Butcher (145) over Ontario’s Nathan Schnett, Tel McBride (160) over Allen Romero of Ontario, Bryce Sullivan (182)over Ontario’s Fernando Gastelum, and Zach Brown (220) over Ontario’s Brian Parades.
Kraiger Muilenburg (126), after an earlier loss, rebounded for a win by fall over Ontario’s Brigham White.
La Grande travels to the Oregon Classic this weekend, while Imbler is off until Jan. 25 when it travels to John Day.