Lebanon’s unbeaten record in dual meets this season nearly came to an end on Friday in the finals of the Laura Gillot Keller Williams tournament.
The nine-team event, which was hosted by Lebanon, was divided into two pools, with squads competing against each other in a dual-meet format.
Lebanon had few problems dispatching Stayton, South Salem, Mountainside and Forest Grove in its round-robin duals. Century High School, a 6A squad from Hillsboro, dominated its pool, leading to an intriguing matchup in the finals.
The Jaguars jumped out to the early lead, taking advantage of a forfeit at 170 pounds, and holding a 33-21 lead with four matches left on the docket.
Rian Howard started the comeback for the Warriors, pinning Sean Cabanban in the first period of their match at 113 pounds. Brayden Burton put the Warriors back in the lead with a first-period pin of Bennet Parkinson at 120 pounds.
Wyatt Richardson (126) followed up with a pin of William Musser, also in the first period, and Andy Vandetta finished the impressive run with a pin of Christian Ochoa at 132 pounds.
The closing run gave the Warriors a 45-33 team victory and maintained their unblemished record in dual meets this season.
Junior Tucker Drummond said the dual format made the event more fun than a bracket tournament.
“As a team, the dual tournaments are so much better for our team competing. We feed off each other. One guy gets a pin and another guy gets a pin and it just keeps rolling,” Drummond said.
He wrestled at 152 pounds in the event even though he is currently a 145-pounder and plans to compete at the district meet at 138. He weighed in at just under 144 on Friday and was definitely giving up several pounds to his Century opponent in the finals.
Drummond is a product of the Lebanon wrestling program, starting in Mat Club at the age of 6 and working his was way up. He thinks this year’s team has even better spirit than usual.
“Everyone gets along really well,” Drummond said. “It’s a team.”
Teammate Timothy Tuomi, a senior, took a different path. He didn’t wrestle at all until his freshman year.
“It was mainly to keep in shape for football because I was really into football. I liked it so well I kept doing it,” Tuomi said.
Tuomi also competed outside of his regular classification. He competes at 182 pounds, giving the Warriors a good one-two punch at that weight with teammate Lane Blisseck.
On Friday, Tuomi competed at 195 pounds. He won one of the more memorable matches of the event, defeating Stayton’s Johnny Sylva in a physical, hard-fought battle. Tuomi controlled much of the match, but Sylva competed valiantly to avoid the pin.
“Really physical,” Tuomi said, adding that he had never been in a match quite like it. “He didn’t want to get pinned. I couldn’t even pin him, he was just fighting the whole time.”
Lebanon coach Michael Cox also had to adjust his lineup as he keeps his eye on the 50-match regular season limit for each wrestler. Chase Miller (160 pounds) was held out of two of the round robin duals for this reason.
“He’s getting close, so we’re picking and choosing where he doesn’t wrestle,” Cox said.
As a team, the Warriors are competing at a high level. On Jan. 9-10, they earned dual-meet victories over Thurston (ranked fourth in the state) and Crescent Valley (ranked second).
This week the team will travel to Hillsboro to compete in the Reser Tournament of Champions at Liberty High School on Friday and Saturday.
Cox said he is pushing the team hard as they prepare for the district championships. The team regularly does daily doubles with running in the morning followed by practice in the afternoon.
“We want them tired. We’re training them for that. We want them on the edge,” Cox said. “We train through a lot of stuff. That one meet’s the big one and so that’s our end goal.”