It didn't matter what the calendar said.
It didn't matter that neither team was at full strength.
It didn't matter that it was "just" a regular-season match.
The Clackamas and Centennial wrestling teams were ready to get after it on Wednesday, Jan. 12, and they did just that.
In the end, the Cavaliers built up an 18-point lead late in the match and held on to beat the Eagles 42-36 in a Mt. Hood Conference contest at Clackamas High School.
"They are a very competitive team, but our team is very well-trained and well-prepared," said Clackamas senior Cole Sims, a winner by fall at 160 pounds. "We knew we were going to have some forfeits; we knew we were going to have some adversity, but we always come out, work our hardest and try to do our best."
"The key was just staying in control and trying moves that I know would work," said junior Dylan Gentile, whose pin at 195 clinched the Cavaliers' victory. "It was especially hard with how many guys we've got out with COVID, but I think we did a good job."
With the win, the Cavaliers snapped their one-match MHC losing streak and improved to 2-1 in conference action. Centennial, meanwhile, lost for the first time in MHC action and fell to 1-1 in the conference.
"I think the team did good. We put all our effort in … but the results weren't in our hands," said Centennial 145-pounder Devon Salazar, who posted a 5-1 decision in his match. "But I'm glad we were able to come out and fight as much as we could."
"We were hoping to win," added 120-pounder John Duong, a winner by fall against Clackamas. "We were practicing really hard and we thought we had a chance. We just need to practice twice as hard."
The Cavaliers had to work for their victory, though. Clackamas gave up four forfeits to Centennial while getting only one in return, but won six of the night's nine contested weights — all by fall — to pull away.
The early part of the match featured some competitive back-and-forth between the two teams, with Clackamas getting early wins from both Jeremiah Wachsmuth and Jackson Wilcoxen to lead 18-12. Wachsmuth came through with a pin at the end of the first round against Edgar Molina at 106, while Wilcoxen followed suit by stopping Daniel Stanescu 1 minute, 27 seconds into their match at 132.
Centennial, meanwhile, responded with wins by Duong and Salazar, with Duong getting an escape, a takedown and a pin against Jarrett Sprinkle in the final minute of the first round at 126. Salazar did his part at 145, notching a takedown in the first period against Keagen Lopez, then adding an escape and another takedown in the third to win 5-1.
"I honestly felt I could have done a lot better," Duong said. "I'm just going to go back and practice twice as hard."
"I feel like I gave it my all, but there's more I could do to help and push through," Salazar said. "I learned that I can push through and get it done with my effort, (but) we definitely need to have more offense … and not wait to see what the opponent's going to do."
Salazar's win pushed the Eagles into the lead at 21-18, but the Cavaliers came back with four pins in the next five contested matches to put the win on ice. Trent Ewry got things started at 152 with a second-round pin of Centennial's Joshua Self, while Sims made it two in a row by piling up a double-digit lead before stopping Ivan Cha at the end of the third period at 160.
"I thought I did pretty well," Sims said. "There's always stuff I can improve on, but I think overall, I was pretty dominant out there."
Centennial's Roberto Garcia Torres stopped the bleeding momentarily with a 3-1 victory over Eli Yoder at 170 that brought the Eagles within 30-24, but Clackamas' Josef Sedivy and Gentile put the match out of reach with pins at both 182 and 190.
Sedivy stepped up to pin Khmeron Muongvang with 40 seconds remaining in the second round at 182, while Gentile racked up a 5-2 lead after one period, then pinned Emvornie Salvador 15 seconds into the second at 190 to seal his team's victory.
"I saw the score and I knew that if I didn't win my match, we wouldn't win the meet so I decided to stay in control the whole time," Gentile said. "It kind of gave me the extra kick to know that it's on me. I was definitely ready for the match."
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