Sunset believes theyre better, more conditioned this year

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset 160-pounder Logan Lachenmeier won his match against Forest Grove last Wednesday.

A renewed dedication to the practice room and a team-wide conscientious decision to fight to the final minute of action has stoked the Sunset wrestling team in the season's first month.

Notching hard-fought six-minute wins and displaying a restored toughness that confessedly wasn't there in the past, the Apollos powered past Forest Grove. 47-22, at Westview's three-way dual meet on Wednesday.

“We have a dominant team,” said 106-pound freshman Daniel Linnell. “The past couple years we've been a little bit weaker, but we have great individuals and great chemistry. In practice, we're all going hard, all wrestling with each other. We're definitely a different Sunset team. We have quick guys. We're fast on our feet, and we can all go the full six minutes. We're just relentless out there. We always grind out on the ground.”

Sunset was able to go the full six minutes in the majority of their matches, which truly important in winning duals as a whole team. The Apollos have focused more on a few go-to maneuvers instead of learning all the grappling moves and barely knowing them. As a squad, they're hardier, hungrier, and in a hurry to establish this is a different program—one that won't roll over at the first sign of disturbance. They're set to stand in the middle of the mat and duke it out with anybody.

“I feel like we're really growing as a team,” said 145-pounder Spencer Stokes. “We're a lot tougher. In the past, we've given up a lot of matches that we shouldn't have because we got lazy or tired or had a lot of falls that should've have happened. Even our new guys are fighting to not give up, but to last the whole six minutes. We're wrestling more to win, than to no get pinned.”

“This is the best team I've been on since I've been here,” added senior Nathan Burnett. “If we have some of our JV guys do something at regionals, and get some points, then we could place up there.”

Stokes— who placed sixth at state last year and second at regionals— was a little more offensive and created the action from the top position in his middleweight match. The junior captain acknowledged his Viking foe was “a tough kid, a grinder” and said he was happy to get the fall with 14 seconds left in the second period.

“It felt good to break him mentally,” said Stokes. “I try not to worry about getting the fall so much. It's more about wrestling my match through and through, no matter what he brought. I just made sure I brought it harder.”

160-pound Logan Lachenmeier remarked his bout was tougher than anticipated, but the senior was able to work through it thanks the hard work the Apollos have put in on the practice mat.

“He (the Viking challenger) was a tough guy and I had to battle through the whole time,” said Lachenmeier. “I just wanted to go out there and wrestle the best I could. I wanted to get the win for my team. I didn't worry about my points or anything. I just wanted to go out there and do what I could do.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset 126-pound wrestler Grant Bingham won his match against Forest Grove last Wednesday.

Linnell was throwing up all day last Tuesday and was even having trouble keeping food down prior to his match. With about 40 seconds left in the third period, sensing something was sitting right in his gut, Linnell nearly pulled out of match in favor of finding the nearest bucket to lose his lunch in. Yet, the freshman held his stomach and stamina together long enough to snatch the opening win, 6-3, in six minutes.

“I was getting sick, I had go to puke in the locker room after it was over,” laughed Linnell “I was just thinking about winning and getting my hand raised. That's all that matters, getting the points for the team.”

Linnell got the lead with a two-point takedown, and then controlled his Forest Grove opponent's wrists while not allowing any escape points. The freshman said the Viking built a strong base base, and Shorty didn't have enough energy to get him back down. So, Linnell grabbed two wrists, put his chin right between the Viking's shoulder blades and grinded him back down.

“I just had to go out there, get on top and ride the match out,” said Linnell. “I was feeling ill on my feet. I just wasn't quick enough, so I had to ride it out period-by-period.”

At 6-2, Linnell is off to a strong start in his freshman campaign. Linnell is set on not giving up pins or points, plus he wants to keep winning as matches as possible in his first year as an Apollo.

“High school's definitely different,” said Linnell. “In middle school, it was a breeze. You go out there and get quick pins. Now, I'm wrestling more juniors and seniors in my weight class which is more of a challenge.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset 120-pound wrestler Zachary Morello tries to fight off a Forest Grove foe in the first period of Morello's match on Wednesday.

Burnett said he could've wrestled a little better than he did and pinned the 182-pound Viking. However, the 13-4, major decision win was the most important thing for the captain who's 10-1 on the young season.

“I want to go for the most pins I can get this season,” said Burnett. “But, I got the win. I got turns going, just couldn't finish them.”

Placing high at regionals, and doing some damage at the 6A state tournament has taken top priority for Burnett who went two-and-out at state last year. Burnett will most likely wrestle at the same weight as he did last season, but said now he's stronger and better on the mat.

“It's nice having that experience of wrestling in that arena with that much going on,” said Burnett. “I just have to keep working hard, keep working on takedowns more. I have to get tougher on my feet, and keep practicing hard.”

126-pound Grant Bingham, 152-pound Angel Barranco, and 220-pound Nicklaus Wiley won by pin for the Apollos.

“Our potential is growing as the year goes on with all the improvements we're making,” said Stokes. “It's not like the season's getting any easier. We're stepping it up as the season progresses, and that's awesome. For us, it's all about confidence.”

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