By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
If someone had lined up the McNary and Tigard high school varsity wrestling teams side-by-side last week, the smart bet probably would have been the Tigers.
“They looked more athletic than us, it wasn’t the team I was expecting,” said Jason Ebbs, McNary head coach. “We relied on our tradition and our technique to take care of us.”
And so it did. The Celts walked out of the gym with a 52-25 win and a half-dozen victories by pinfall.
“The fight in our kids is what stood out,” Ebbs said. “We had several kids give up the first takedown and then come back to win the match.”
Senior Louis Palos, who placed in the state tournament last year, slipped early on in his match with Tigard’s Brad Williams. Williams got a takedown, but Palos regained control quickly and ended up with a win by pin in 36 seconds.
Sophomore Gage Mance was illegally slammed by a Tigard wrestler after the whistle. It happened with such force, Ebbs was preparing to stop the match and check on his wrestler.
“But, by the time I got up, Gage was already back up and ready to get back into it with the guy,” Ebbs said.
Mance said his adrenaline kicked in after the maneuver.
“I was nervous before that, but Zach Hammrschmith and Taran Purkey had told me to keep my shots low because he was a bit taller than me,” Mance said.
The strategy worked and Mance had an 11-2 lead when the final buzzer sounded, a win by major decision.
Celt Jordan Cagle wasn’t immune to the jitters before his match with Tigard’s. He was so focused that he didn’t remember getting taken down on his opponent’s first shot, but he quickly turned the tables.
“I hit a granby roll to get away from him and then got the cradle,” Cagle said.
Ebbs said it was a maneuver the team hasn’t practiced much beyond demos, and it came as a surprise to even him.