Jacob Griffin admitted his legs still were shaking 10 minutes after his match on Thursday night.
The Pendleton freshman knew he had to win his 220-pound match against Redmond’s Dillon Young if the Bucks were to have any chance of winning the match.
Griffin looked like a veteran on the mat, pinning Young in 50 seconds to pull Pendleton within 32-30 of the Panthers.
Travis McGee sealed the win for the Bucks with a 23-second pin of Ryan Kettle at 285 as Pendleton recorded a 36-32 Intermountain Conference victory at Warberg Court.
“He was huge compared to me,” Griffin said of Young, who weighed in 15 pounds heavier. “I was so scared going into that match. I kept thinking I was going to lose, and then we would lose. I just believed in myself that I could do it. I felt right at home out there. He was a strong kid.”
Griffen took Young down just 27 seconds into the match, turned him and got the pin.
“When I was circling, I thought if I don’t do this now, I won’t,” Griffen said. “I got the pin, then Travis did too. I’m feeling pretty confident right now.”
Pendleton coach Fred Phillips was proud of the way his young wrestlers performed.
“We had a freshman at 220 and our heavyweight is a first-year guy,” Phillips said. “Our seniors didn’t go out and get it done tonight, it was our freshmen and young kids, which was surprising.”
McGee outweighed his opponent 283-219. The initial takedown was quick, and Kettle offered little resistance.
“I felt it when everyone was cheering for Jacob,” McGee said. “The blood was flowing. You want to go out and compete for that.”
McGee also admitted he was a little uneasy going into his bout with the match on the line.
“I was a little scared, but it was go time,” McGee said. “Once I got the first couple of seconds of the match out of the way, I was OK.”
Though Griffen and McGee had must-win matches, so did Aiden Henderson at 195. With the Bucks trailing 32-21, Pendleton needed to win its final three matches without giving up a point.
Henderson earned a 5-0 decision over Gabe Cauldell to set the table.
“We competed hard,” Phillips said. “We had a third-string kid (Josh Whaley) at 160, and our 113 pounder (Kellen Hanson) was wrestling a state runner-up. We get pinned in those two matches, we lose the match.”
The Bucks and Panthers traded the lead several times until Redmond won every match from 160 to 182 to take a 32-21 advantage.
“We definitely didn’t wrestle to our potential,” Panthers coach Rob Spear said. “They stumbled. It wasn’t the outcome we wanted.”
Collin Primus (106), Gabe Browning (120), Alex Rendon (132) and Matt Robertson (145) also won matches for Pendleton.
The Bucks will compete in the Bend Invitational on Saturday, while Redmond will be at the Rollie Lane Invitational on Friday and Saturday in Nampa, Idaho.