by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge 160-pound wrestler D.J. Grimes cut 10 pounds to make the varsity team and won in his first ever varsity match against Beaverton.

It could be argued that Tyler Cox’s laborious, sudden death, double-overtime bout against Beaverton’s Isaiah McGatha wasn’t garnered when the final buzzer sounded, signaling a 5-1 triumph for the 285-pound Southridge wrestler.

Cox’s win — one of the best matches of the night and the cherry on top of a 59-9 lashing of the Beavers on Thursday for the Skyhawks — was secured months ago, in the sweltering, smallish Southridge wrestling room just outside of the main gym. The former offensive lineman worked his tail off in the preseason running, lifting weights, sparring with teammates, and laying down the foundation for what culminated in the final moments of Cox’s match with McGatha.

Invigorated and barely breathing hard after a long eight minutes of squabbling, Cox stayed on his feet and escaped the grasp of McGatha after the Beaver tried to run him around the ring and tackle him to the ground to go up 3-1.

“I was just kind of having fun running around, being an athlete,” said Cox. “That goes back to the good coaching. I did that all the time in football, so it was fun. I push myself every day, and I push my teammates. We just get after it in the room. That’s a huge reason why we stay fresh longer in the matches.”

And, with the entire Skyhawk coaching staff standing and cheering the big guy on from the side, Cox was able to withstand McGatha’s last gasp attempts for a near fall to notch the victory.

“I just relied on all the good coaching I’ve had,” said Cox. “All of the coaches have done a really good job of getting me in shape, so all the credit goes to them and my teammates for pushing me. It was a great team win. It felt great looking around seeing the smiles on my teammates’ faces. It just made it that much sweeter.”

Cox scored an escape 20 seconds into the first round and provoked a stalling call late in the second period to go up 2-0. McGatha bagged a pair of escapes to tie it 2-2, but Cox could sense the match was going his way, if he could stay standing and stay strong.

“As soon as I got the first (escape), I knew I just had to get the momentum going,” said Cox. “I had to break the lead open, so I added on a couple more points and wrestled smart. I just had to keep him in front of me and everything would take care of itself.”

Southridge won 12 of the 14 weight classes against Beaverton with pins coming from Kyle Koch (106 pounds), Nicholas Piwonaka (145), and Nathan Buell (220). Caleb Johnen, D.J. Grimes and David Camacho each won by major decision. Joseph McRae and Jack Chimenti both won by decision.

“Our team worked together, almost like a family,” said the 160-pound Grimes. “We work together and help each other get better every day. I think we support each other really well.”

“We’re going to surprise a lot of people with our mental toughness,” added Cox. “I think we’re just going to get tougher and in better shape. And, we’re going to add technique so the sky’s the limit for us.”

“I think we’re even better than last year,” said Johnen. “A lot of people are doubting us because we lost a couple kids. But, we’re coming on strong and I hope to see our team do big things. Kids are working harder. There’s more motivation. The spirit’s better and the team bonding is better. Everyone wants to win, and there’s a lot of pride involved.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge 145-pound wrestler Nicholas Piwonka pinned Beavertons Joseph Epsero in the second round in the Skyhawks win over the Beavers on Thursday.

A 170-pound competitor on the JV level, Grimes cut down 10 pounds so he could fill the vacant 160-pound position in the Skyhawk lineup.

“At first, it was really nerve-wracking,” said Grimes. “But, once I got out there and started working my nerves started going away. I just started what I’ve been doing in the practice room. I plan on staying at varsity the rest of the year.”

Grimes felt good about the first half of his 160-pound match with Beaverton’s Leon Mosley, though he said sloppiness nearly cost him the 20-10 win. At the end of the third period, following a three-point near fall, Grimes said he started running out of breath and wasn’t working as laboriously. Grimes, however, didn’t allow Mosley to flip and pin him. Instead, he stayed on his feet and tallied the major decision.

“I got back on it and I think I deserved it,” said Grimes. “I wanted to work him hard, get a snapdown in, try to get a high-crotch in. I didn’t get the high-crotch in, but I worked as hard as I could to get the win.”

Camacho also made his varsity unveiling against Beaverton, rising up from the JV ranks to take out Julian Herron for the six-point win.

Wrestling under the Southridge spotlight and competing in front of a huge pack of classmates in the bleachers, was what the lightweight said he grapples for.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge 126-pound wrestler Jack Chimenti beat Daniel Diaz by decision for the Skyhawks who took out Beaverton, 59-9, on Thursday.

“To some people it might not mean that much, but to me it means pride,” said Camacho. “Being the lightweight for your team, you’re going to be the first one on and the first one off (the mat). When you go from JV to varsity, it means you have to work harder in the wrestling room. It’s a lot of extra work.

“I had a few butterflies, but they went away,” continued Camacho. “I got wrecked in my warmups and then it went smooth from then on. I wanted to go heavy on his head, wrap up his legs, make him face the mat and try to pin him .”

Twice last season Johnen went toe-to-toe with Beaverton’s Carey Flanagan and both times the 113-pound Skyhawk came away empty.

Johnen wanted to right his wrongs from a year ago, and was able to do so with three takedowns and a near fall for the major decision conquest. Johnen said the familiarity with Flanagan wasn’t nearly as important as staying within himself and wrestling his best.

“I knew if I did that, then I had what it took to beat him,” said Johnen. “I tried to wear him out, and I could see it in him. I got after it. It was a good feeling to finally accomplish that. I had a lot of motivation throughout the offseason. I was visualizing what I could do to beat him.”

Johnen said Southridge is starting to touch some of its personal goals.

“I knew I had to get the big win to turn the motion on for the team,” said Johnen. “I got after it the best I could, and it paid off with the upper weights getting after it.”

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