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Noble effort not enough for WL grapplers

by: Tracie Krellwitz, West Linn’s Donald Paulson, top, puts his opponent in a painful position during last week’s dual meet against Oregon City. Paulson won his match at 112 pounds by a 4-0 decision. Paulson was one of six Lions wrestlers to win last week.

When Oregon City was manhandled by Canby during a weekend tournament earlier this season, it left a lot of West Linn fans hoping that their wrestling team could maintain its long hold on the league title.

But that proved to be little more than wishful thinking after seeing the way things unfolded at last Wednesday's dual meet between West Linn and Oregon City. By posting a convincing 40-19 victory, the Pioneers showed that they simply have too much depth for the young, inexperienced Lions.

It was a tough pill for West Linn's coaches and grapplers to swallow, but they managed to hold their heads high while looking ahead to the future.

'We've got some young kids and we've got a lot of developing to do,' West Linn coach Doug Samarron said after the meet.

'But, I look out there and think, 'Geez, when these sophomores are seniors and these freshmen are juniors, and then with some of these eight-graders that are coming up, I think we'll be alright,' the coach added.

Just getting through the current season will be the painful part, as Oregon City ably demonstrated last week.

Any way you want to dissect the meet, it seemed the Pioneers had the advantage. They registered four pins while West Linn, which used to be a team that thrived on its ability to record pins, had none.

'We needed pins and we needed to avoid getting pinned, and it didn't quite go our way,' Samarron said.

The Lions did barely miss out on some pinning action in a couple of the matches. But statistically, the closest the Lions came to a fall happened when Michael MacClanathan recorded a 16-3 major decision over Jean-Claude Guadiz at 171 pounds.

'MacClanathan did a great job. He was a buzzsaw. He never quit moving and he made opportunities happen for himself,' Samarron said.

For the rest of the night, the Lions were relegated to fighting for three-point decisions. They registered five of those, and there was MacClanathan's four-point decision. Even then, it was a losing battle as Oregon City was willing to trade some small losses in exchange for some big wins.

After losing the 103-pound match by a fall, West Linn found itself in an early 6-0 hole. But there was a glimmer of hope after Donald Paulson won his 112-pound match with a 4-0 decision and Andrew Kim followed up with a hard-fought 11-9 decision. That tied the meet at 6-all but Kim was hoping for a pin against Jordan Brewer, which would have put his team in the lead.

'(Brewer) came at me strong, so I was ready to give him all I had,' Kim said.

At one point, Kim was working on a move he hoped would result in a fall and he nearly got himself pinned in the process.

'Yeah, I put myself in a bad position and that was kind of a downer for me,' he said. 'It was a move my brother (Matt) taught me … and I got a little too anxious.'

But West Linn quickly found itself playing catch-up again after Oregon City registered a pin at 125 pounds and a decision at 130 to take a 15-6 lead.

The Lions made up part of that deficit when Logan Krellwitz picked up a 7-5 decision against the 135-pound Travis Snow in one of the most exciting matches of the night. That cut West Linn's deficit to 15-9 but the Lions would get no closer the rest of the night.

The Pioneers then followed with a pin at 140 and nearly pulled off a shocking decision at 145. In the latter match, West Linn's Devan Schiewe appeared to have his match in hand against John Newman after scoring a late, two-point near fall.

But Newman managed to score a reversal as time was winding down and, for a moment, it seemed he would win the match. But Schiewe returned the favor by scoring his own reversal just before the clock expired and he wound up with a 7-6 decision.

Schiewe was originally slated to wrestle against Jake Morris, one of Oregon City's top grapplers.

But, just before the meet began, Morris was moved to the 152-pound match, where he registered a quick pin.

'I wanted to wrestle Morris,' Schiewe said. 'I was getting psyched for that match. I'm not really worried about losing at this point.'

The Lions' only bright spots after that came when MacClanathan thoroughly dominated Guadiz at 171, and when Mitch Gaulke picked up a convincing 7-1 decision at 285.

Gaulke started his match with a cut lip that he suffered after butting heads with Oregon City's John Frost. Gaulke appeared to get mad after that and responded by taking down Frost with one of his patented football tackles.

'It kind of works for me, so I just keep on doing it,' Gaulke said of his takedown move.

Even though the night was hopelessly lost by the time he took the mat, Gaulke wrestled as if the outcome of his match would determine which team won.

'I knew the team needed a win so we wouldn't get wiped out too bad,' he said. 'I just try to work hard and do what I can do for the team.'

By the end of the night, it was pretty clear that Oregon City has the best wrestling team in the Three Rivers League. Unfortunately, that probably will remove much of the drama when the two teams meet up again at the district tournament in February.

'I think there's hope that we can perform better against this team at districts,' Samarron said. 'But realistically, because they have numbers and we have a lot of holes, we're not going to get the points (to win) at district.

'Second place is really the realistic goal for us,' the coach added. 'If we can finish second in league, and give these guys a little closer run, then I'm pretty happy.'

But Schiewe isn't quite ready to concede the district title, at least not yet.

'I think it will be a lot closer at district,' he said. 'I think we could shock some of their guys.'