Clackamas Community College wrestlers overwhelm Umpqua
Saying the Clackamas Community College wrestling team manhandled the Umpqua RiverHawks on Saturday afternoon would be an understatement.
It was complete and utter domination.
Clackamas freshman Michael Gasper's first-round pin in the 197-pound weight class provided the exclamation point on the Cougars' resounding 55-0 romp at CCC's Randall Hall.
The rout featured six CCC pins, two technical falls, one decision, and one victory by forfeit as the three-time defending NJCAA champions improved to 4-0.
"This is what we do here and we love to do this," said Gasper, who pinned Caleb Brickey with 49 seconds remaining in the first round. "Our guys love to come out here and compete and get rowdy.
"Today, we saw a domino effect here. Once one of our guys gets a pin, it motivates the rest of our guys to go out there and score points for our team. We love to score points for each other."
Nic Aguilar, Isaac Lopez, Romeo Manue, Alex Ramirez and Micah Worthington also scored pins, and Victor Jacinto and Kyle Richards added technical falls in the win.
"That felt good," Cougars coach Josh Rhoden said. "In contests like this — no disrespect to Umpqua, in any way — our job is to go out there and make sure that we do the things we know we're good at and wrestle to positions where we're strong.
"Guys looked for a lot of bonus points, which to win a national championship, you've got to have bonus points. So, we did a nice job of transitioning from takedowns to turns and from turns to falls."
In the one match that ended in a decision, some more potential Clackamas bonus points seemed possible until the Cougars' 174-pounder Isaac Gomez injured his right knee and went from leading 14-4 early in the third round to hanging on in pain for a 17-11 win over Austin VanHouten.
"Here's the thing, Gomez is mentally tough enough that he won't call for injury time," Rhoden said. "That kid (VanHouten) is ranked in the top 10 at 165, so we know he's a quality opponent. And even when we didn't wrestle for two full minutes, we still got a really good win there."
Aside from VanHouten's 11 points, there wasn't much of anything else for Umpqua to get too excited about.
In the other eight contested weight classes, the RiverHawks of Roseburg scored a combined 10 points — all on escapes. No takedowns. No reversals. No near falls. Just escapes, some of which the Cougars conceded in the name of keeping the action moving.
The heavyweights kicked off the Dec. 11 dual with Richards, the Cougars' sophomore from Folson, California, using a reversal with 1:33 remaining in the second round to seal a 15-0 technical fall over Connor O'Bryan.
Next, Aguilar won by fall after only 33 seconds against Tyson Oliver at 125, Lopez won by second-round fall over Tanner Ulrey at 133, and Worthington won by fall with 11 seconds remaining in the first round against Enrique Jaime at 141.
"I took an opportunity when it presented itself," said Worthington, a freshman from Newberg. "I tossed him with this throw that I like to hit in practice and then transitioned to a head-and-arm finish to pin him.
"It was a great team performance. We've got a team that once somebody starts it, it keeps going like a steamroller. It's awesome. It's a powerhouse, and I'm proud to be a part of it."
At 149, Jacinto used a four-point near fall at the end of the first round to secure an 18-2 technical fall over Samuel Balderston, running his individual season record to 14-0.
Ramirez followed with his pin at 157 and Trent Silva won by forfeit at 165, setting the stage for the Gomez-VanHouten tilt at 174.
At 184, Manue, the former David Douglas standout, forged a 16-4 lead before winning by second-round fall over Landen Chung.
Finally, Gasper charged out to a 14-1 lead before using a roll-through cradle to put Brickey on his back with just under a minute remaining in the first round at 197.
"I feel like I've been performing pretty well, pretty consistent," Gasper said. "That's been my goal this season — no hiccups, making sure I'm making weight and coming in right where I want to come it at. And whether it's Umpqua or the national championships, I treat every match the same.
"As a team, chasing a fourth national championship, I think that getting these matches in and getting this experience is really crucial to us getting where we want to be at the end of the year."
The Cougars will travel to Nevada for the Dec. 19 Reno Tournament of Champions. The next home match is on Jan. 7 against West Region rival North Idaho at Randall Hall.
At this stage of the season, Rhoden said he likes his current lineup, although the Cougars are still weighing options at a few weights, particularly 141, 165 and 174.
"We're just trying to play around with it to see where we can get the best combo of guys that are consistent," Rhoden said. "I think we're pretty close. I think we're probably at seven (out of 10 weights) where, 'Yeah, that's who we'd go with.'
"I think we're going to need a good, solid 10 guys, but this year is going to be different from any other year at nationals, too. It's going to be the most competitive it's ever been, in my opinion, and after this semester when you see grades from every team and you get guys that are getting added because they got eligible, we're going to have a better idea."
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