PENDLETON — Over the past decade, Hermiston has fully established itself as a wrestling powerhouse in the state of Oregon with 10 team state championships and numerous individual titles.
However, as roster turnover over the past few seasons has left holes in the lineup, the Bulldogs have had to mix and match with the weight classes and be patient with some young faces. And with their Class 5A district tournament on the horizon next week, the Bulldogs showed they still have a lot of work to do following Wednesday night’s 42-30 dual victory over Pendleton at Warberg Court.
“I think we took these guys a little bit for granted,” Hermiston’s Zach Kirkpatrick said afterwards. “I think we need to come out more focused next time we’re out here with more intensity throughout the entire match.”
The Hermiston-Pendleton matchups have been one-sided for the Bulldogs for awhile, with Hermiston winning by a combined score of 174-46 in the three previous years. But the Bulldogs gave away 12 points with two forfeits at 132 and 138, lost two matches by fall and two by decision.
“Some guys wrestled tough, some guys I thought could’ve done a little better,” Hermiston head coach Kyle Larson said. “I think in a few matches we kind of stood around and were okay with just a decision. I think we could’ve pushed the pace a little bit more in some matches, maybe we’ll fix that this week before we go to districts.”
Hermiston’s Joey Gutierrez (195) had the most impressive win of the night as he pinned Cezar Medina in a quick 26 seconds. Gutierrez attacked quickly after the whistle, scoring a takedown just five seconds before flipping Medina to his back and securing the pin.
Gutierrez’s win was one of four pins for Hermiston on the night. At 145, AJ Tuia pinned Blake Davis at 3:41, Kirkpatrick (170) pinned Ian Bannister at 4:26 and Sean Stewart (220) pinned Aiden Henderson at 3:19.
Kirkpatrick battled with Bannister into the third round, holding a 3-1 lead, though the match featured little action as both wrestlers spent a lot of time dancing around and trying to find their shot. But as they started the third round, Bannister chose to start the crouch on the bottom, and Kirkpatrick saw an opportunity. As soon as the starting whistle blew, Kirkpatrick held Bannister, got in position and secured the pin 15 seconds into the period.
“The guy was kind of making me upset, kept backing out,” Kirkpatrick said of his match. “So when he chose down, I know I’m tough on top and thought ‘I’m just going to pin this kid.’ And you saw, I just got him over and got him down.
“I was relieved. The team needed it, so it felt pretty good.”
Stewart’s pin against Pendleton’s Henderson was also impressive. Henderson controlled the match through the first period and led 4-1 early in the second period. But while Henderson had Stewart in a hold, he hesitated for a moment, which allowed Stewart to get some leverage and flip Henderson on his back to secure the win.
That was one of the matches that Pendleton coach Fred Phillips was frustrated with. He knows his wrestlers were good enough to win most of the matches Wednesday, but he believes some kids had mindsets that helped lead to their defeat.
“I think a couple of our kids that lost tonight didn’t believe they were going to win when they stepped on that mat,” Phillips said. “I know Aiden (Henderson), I love the kid, but he told me he didn’t think he could win when he went out there, and it makes it hard to win a match like that, and that’s something they have to figure out.”
Pendleton’s 30 points were the most it had scored against Hermiston since the 24 points in 2014. The Buckaroos scored wins by fall from Aiden Patterson (160) and Caleb Tremper (120) and decisions from Isaac Urbina (152) and Chris Chambers (126).
“I’m pretty proud of the way a lot of them went,” Phillips said. “I’m proud of Tremper and Chambers and Patterson ... we did some good things, too, but I’m just tired of being close.”
Patterson pinned Hermiston’s Daniel Faaeteete in 1:22 and Tremper got the better of Gage Shipley in five minutes flat. Urbina had Pendleton’s most dramatic match of the evening, holding on to a 10-9 decision over Trevor Wagner.
Urbina held control for most of the match, holding an 8-2 lead at one point. However, Wagner flipped a switch near the end of the second period and carried that momentum into the third. Urbina seemed to be headed for a 10-3 decision with only 26 seconds remaining in the third, but Wagner came out of a restart to score a takedown and was so close to scoring a pin until the final buzzer sounded to save Urbina’s victory.
Now, both teams will head back to the practice mats and dig deep for the final nine days of practice until the district tournament begins next week in Bend. And both coaches are taking different messages to their teams.
“We’re not going to change much,” Larson said. “Continue to do the same things, work on the positions we see that we need to work on before we get to Friday ... just fine tune.”
Meanwhile, Phillips said “We’ve got our technique, we’ve got our conditioning, we’re getting better. We just have to mentally believe that we can win when we go to the mat ... We’ve got to take a next step and at this point the boys have to figure it out in their own mind that they can wrestle with anybody. They’re better than they think they are. They’ve won 23 duals this year and haven’t quite figure out we’re a decent team.
“I hope we can get that figured out in the next nine days, because we’re running out of time.”
HERMISTON 42, PENDLETON 30
138 — Brendan Bedolla (P) wins by forfeit (P 6-0)
145 — AJ Tuia (H) def. Blake Davis by fall, 3:41 (T 6-6)
152 — Isaac Urbina (P) def. Trevor Wagner by 10-9 decision (P 9-6)
160 — Aiden Patterson (P) def. Daniel Faaeteete by fall, 1:22 (P 15-6)
170 — Zach Kirkpatrick (H) def. Ian Bannister by fall, 4:26 (P 15-12)
182 — Jake Palmer (H) def. Kirk Liscom by 4-0 decision (T 15-15)
195 — Joey Gutierrez (H) def. Cezar Medina by fall, 0:26 (H 21-15)
220 — Sean Stewart (H) def. Aiden Henderson by fall, 3:19 (H 27-15)
285 — Beau Blake (H) def. Perry Markgraf by 5-2 decision (H 30-15)
106 — Isaac Lambert (H) wins by forfeit (H 36-15)
113 — Ruben Madrigal (H) wins by forfeit (H 42-15)
120 — Caleb Tremper (P) def. Shawn Pourier by fall, 5:00 (H 42-21)
126 — Chris Chambers (P) def. Gage Shipley by 4-0 decision (H 42-24)
132 — Koby Jones (P) wins by forfeit (H 42-30)
Contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839. Follow him on Twitter @ByEricSinger.