HERMISTON — The Hermiston wrestling team hosted its lone dual meet of the year as Hood River Valley came to town Wednesday night. With a few marquee bouts in the lineup, the Bulldogs and Eagles were poised to put on a show, and they did not disappoint.
“I think we gave the crowd a good match,” senior Joey Gutierrez said. “Everybody was yelling screaming for all of the matches. It was all-in-all pretty good.”
Hermiston, the historically dominant wrestling team on this side of the state, was up early. A couple pins from the heavyweight class, two forfeits and a win by fall in the 113-pound division gave the Bulldogs an early 27-3 lead.
But Hood River claimed three of the four next bouts to cut the deficit to 27-21.
The Bulldogs needed a final push, and got that when senior Adrian Tuia (145) took the mat. He was pitted against Cade Parker and Parker kept things close for the first two rounds.
Tuia got out to an early 4-1 lead after earning four takedown points with Parker getting only one for an escape. The scored stayed in Tuia’s favor at 4-1 through the second round. Then, after notching two points on a reversal, Tuia ran away with the bout to win by a 8-2 decision.
Three more Hermiston victories followed to give the Bulldogs’ the 45-21 win.
Two freshmen, Tyler Wagner (152) and Daniel Faaeteete (160), drew some of the loudest cheers from the crowd.
First up was Wagner, who faced Hood River’s Tristan Keely. After a dislocated finger on Keely’s hand and a bloody nose that ended up saving Wagner from getting pinned, the Bulldog grinded it out for nearly the entire six minutes before winning by fall in 5:03.
“He was in a fight,” head coach Kyle Larson said. “He could have easily, as a freshman, put his head down and got pinned ... right there but he fought and fought and fought and fought until the blood got him off his back.
“He was fighting, never gave up, easily could have given those guys six points, came through and then finished the match strong even after he lost all of his breath getting choked out on his back. Still came back, scored more points and won the match like he should. It was awesome, Trevor did awesome.”
Faaeteete was close to pinning his competition just 41 seconds into the bout, but opponent Tanner Fletcher got the reversal to cut the score to 3-2 after round one. The next two minutes were even more action-packed. A reversal for Faaeteete, another for Fletcher, a near fall here, some more reversals there. But the score continued to give Faaeteete the advantage, as he was up 12-8 entering the final round.
Fletcher got within one point, 13-12, with 23 seconds left and was threatening a comeback win but a final point for a late escape gave Faaeteete a 14-12 win by decision.
Zack Kirkpatrick (170) and Hood River’s Nathaniel Quintanilla were the last wrestlers of the night. Hermiston was up 39-21 at that point, but Kirkpatrick still needed a win to cement the Bulldogs’ fate.
It only took him 1:16 to do so when he won by fall.
“Well you know every match is the same,” Kirkpatrick said when asked about his mentality entering the final bout. “I just go out there with the same intensity and the same motivation, the needed a win and I had to give them the win.”
The night ended with as much excitement as it began with.
Hermiston’s Jake Palmer (182) was the first man up after the team’s started by pulling random weight classes. His match came down to the third and final period, where Palmer would escape for a 3-2 win. Hermiston got the start it wanted and was up 9-0.
Moises Avila (195) was one of two wrestlers to win by forfeit, and the other was Adrian Delgado (106) to give the Bulldogs easy points.
Joey Gutierrez moved up two weight classes to face Logan Jensen-Smith. Gutierrez had no problems getting through his bout unscathed, winning by fall in just 1:05.
Fellow senior Beau Blake followed. Blake is the most probable Bulldog to make a deep run in the state championships. Ranked No. 2 in the state, he was paired up with Hood River’s Adrian Ramirez — who claims the No. 4 spot in state rankings in the 285 division.
The six minutes of regulation time wasn’t enough to pick a winner between the two. They battled it out under the ultimate tie-breaker with Ramirez coming out the victor, 3-2.
Hermiston honored its six seniors before the dual, but it won’t be the last time the Bulldogs wrestle in front of a home crowd.
The Bulldogs will be hosting the Farm City event that will feature teams from Baker, Dallas, Irrigon and Riverside among others. The tournament will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday with the finals starting at approximately 5 p.m.
Contact Alexis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4542. Follow her on Twitter @almansanarez.