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Lions sneak past Clackamas 33-31

by: Vern Uyetake, 
Devan Schiewe pinned his opponent after moving up to 145 pounds during the Lions’ narrow victory over Clackamas last week. Schiewe had one of four pins for West Linn, each of which was crucial in the win. Clackamas was expected to give the Lions their biggest test in league outside of Oregon City.

It had been eons since the Clackamas wrestling team had beaten West Linn, but many on the Cavaliers' side were figuring this would be their year to make amends.

It was hard to argue with their logic since Clackamas has a much improved team this season and West Linn has struggled for the first time in years. Some people in the Clackamas camp felt there was no way they could lose to West Linn this year.

So, imagine the Cavaliers' shock when West Linn pulled off an impressive, come-from-behind 33-31 victory last Thursday on Clackamas' home floor.

'They thought they were going to beat us, so (proving them wrong) was the best part,' West Linn coach Doug Samarron said.

It was a satisfying victory but it certainly wasn't easy.

The Clackamas coaching staff decided to start the meet off with the 171-pound match, which featured the Cavs' best wrestler - Cory Middleton - and he recorded a pin against Paul Garcia. The Cavs are also strong at 189 and 215 pounds and the host team registered decisions at those weights to take a commanding 12-0 lead.

The Clackamas bench was filled with smiles at that point and it seemed clear that the Cavs felt a resounding team victory would soon follow. But West Linn had other plans.

Mitch Gaulke got things started for West Linn when he scored a pin at the 4:39 mark of the 285-pound match. Then, Sam Ihrig picked up a hard-fought 9-7 decision in overtime in the 103-pound match. And, when Donald Paulson followed with a one-minute pin at 112 pounds, the Lions had their first lead of the night at 15-12.

Andrew Kim extended that lead by three points when he picked up a 3-0 decision at 119 pounds. But the Cavs quickly regained the lead, at 21-18, with a pin at 125 and a decision at 130.

Suddenly, the pressure was starting to mount for West Linn because everyone knew the Lions didn't have a 160-pounder in their lineup. That meant the evening would end with Clackamas being awarded six points for a forfeit.

So, the Lions had to do more than just regain the lead. They had to build enough of a cushion to overcome that six-point giveaway at the end.

The turnaround started at 135 when Logan Krellwitz needed just 72 seconds to pin his opponent. That gave the Lions the lead back at 24-21.

Then, freshman Christian Wilson tacked three more points onto the lead when he earned a hard-fought 6-4 overtime decision at 140 pounds. And Devan Schiewe, who was moved up to 145 to make room for Wilson, capped the comeback when he pinned his opponent at the 4:50 mark.

That pushed West Linn's lead to 33-21. At that point, the only way the Lions could have lost would have been if Austin Cerny got pinned at 152.

Cerny seemed to be headed for trouble for a while, but he managed to stay off his back. He wound up losing the match by a 6-3 decision, but that was OK. In fact, Samarron and the rest of the West Linn bench began to celebrate even before the final seconds ticked off.

'The big thing was staying off our backs,' Samarron responded when asked to name some of the key moments of the meet.

It was also important, the coach said, to get victories from Ihrig and Wilson in matches that Clackamas had expected to win. Both of those matches went to overtime before the Lions prevailed.

Also important were the pins that Paulson, Krellwitz, Schiewe and Gaulke recorded. If just one of those had been a decision instead, West Linn would have lost.

Beating Clackamas was a big turnaround after the Lions had performed poorly as a team the week before at the Pacific Coast Championships.

After that showing, Samarron worked his team hard in practice last week, and his wrestlers responded with an impressive effort in a key league match.

The coach went from being depressed after the Pac Coast tournament to being reenergized in a short period of time. It was largely because of the efforts his wrestlers made in the practice room.

'We're making baby steps but we're moving forward,' the coach said.

Next up for the Lions was Wednesday's crucial league meet against Oregon City.

Unfortunately, the results were not available by the Tidings' deadline, but it's a good bet that the winner will wind up with the league's dual-meet crown.

Oregon City was a heavy favorite to claim that title at the beginning of the season, but the spread seemed to narrow following West Linn's victory over Clackamas.

'We're not going to roll over for them,' Samarron promised as his team prepared for the Pioneers.