By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
There was little doubt, as the evening unfolded, that McNary High School would win its dual meet with Tualatin High School.
The Celts took the meet 45-21, but two of the McNary team members found themselves embroiled in battles that brought the attendees to their feet.
At 182 pounds, Celt Zach Hammerschmith battled a flu bug in addition to his opponent, Franklin Giannone. It was a see-saw match for Hammerschmith that saw the score tied 8-8 in the final 15 seconds of the match-up. Hammerschmith had taken a timeout due to illness not long before and was visibly shaky as he summoned up the strength to continue time and time again.
“I just didn’t want to lose. I kept telling myself that and I just mustered up everything I had for the last 10 seconds of the match,” Hammerschmith said.
In the final reset, Hammerschith opted for the bottom position and escaped for the 9-8 win with four seconds left on the clock.
The last time the two opponents met, when Hammerschmith was a sophomore, it was Giannone who escaped with the win.
After a forfeit by McNary and a 3-1 win by Celt Alvarro Venegas at 220 pounds, McNary junior Steven Wilkerson, a first-year Celt wrestler, stepped to the mat with Tiger Ace Leben.
In a back-and-forth battle that saw the wrestlers tie the score more than once. Leben opted for the bottom position as the third round entered the final seconds. And it was Leben who got the escape at the final second for the 7-6 win.
For the most part, the Celtics dominated their Tualatin opponents throughout the night.
At 106 pounds, Sean Burrows won by pin in a speedy 36 seconds; Joey Kibbey won by pin in 1:27 at 113 pounds; Louis Palos won by pin in 1:06 at 120 pounds; Michael Phelps won by pin in 3:45; Caleb Conner pinned his opponent in 3:54; Ryan Edsall won by pin in the final second of the first round; and Taran Purkey won in a 4-0 decision.
Conner said a rush of adrenaline right before taking to the mat helped turn things his way.