Milwaukie handles West Linn grapplers
Coach Doug Samarron couldn't remember the last time a West Linn wrestling team lost to Milwaukie. So, it was no wonder that the Mustangs cherished every moment of Thursday's 45-24 victory over the Lions.
'That's the first time we've lost to them in a long, long time,' Samarron said afterward while trying his best to remain positive.
In a way, that loss to the Mustangs put West Linn's season at a crossroad. The question now is whether the Lions can battle back and try to make amends for that loss in next week's district tournament. Or was that lopsided setback to Milwaukie a sign of what lies ahead for the Lions?
One thing is for certain: Samarron is not folding up his tent and he knows his wrestlers won't either.
'I told the boys I'm not giving up,' the coach said after last Thursday's loss. 'I'm showing up tomorrow and I'm showing up on Monday and I'm going to keep on working.'
Coming into last week's meet, it was already apparent that the Lions would not win another league dual-meet title this year. That honor will go the Oregon City Pioneers after they ran the table on everyone else in the TRL.
But second place still looked like a good possibility for the Lions. All they needed to do to secure that spot was beat Milwaukie. In previous seasons, that would not have been a problem but it sure was this time.
However, there were signs early on that it might be West Linn's night.
The evening started with Milwaukie forfeiting the 103-pound match to West Linn's Sam Ihrig. Then, in the 112-pound match, Donald Paulson scored a 7-0 decision over Nick Keser to push West Linn's lead to 9-0. And the Lions' Andrew Kim followed with a third-round pin over Chris Elam at 119 pounds to give the Lions a 15-0 lead.
It didn't seem to matter that Brian Schiewe lost a decision in the 125-pound match, because Travis Schultzler followed moments later with possibly his best effort of the season at 130 pounds. In that match, Schultzler dominated Zach Lafferty en route to a 15-0 technical fall, and he did it in less than two rounds.
That pushed West Linn's lead to 20-3. After that, though, nothing seemed to go right for the Lions as Milwaukie won the next eight matches, including five by pins.
'I knew they were tough from 152 to 215 - that's their strength,' Samarron said.
But Milwaukie had its way in some of the other matches - matches that some people expected to go West Linn's way.
In the 135-pound match, the Lions got a big surprise when Logan Krellwitz lost a 4-2 overtime decision to Jake Levy. Krellwitz, who appeared to be nursing a sore neck, didn't look like himself in that match.
Plus, there was Devan Schiewe's 13-0 loss to Robert Torgerson in the 145-pound match. It was probably a match that Schiewe should have missed after injuring some ribs in a previous match.
'He's kind of banged up,' Samarron said of Schiewe. 'He's not even going to wrestle (at Reser's). I just thought we'd try to get it out of him tonight.'
Then, the biggest shocker came at 171 pounds when West Linn's heralded sophomore, Michael McClanathan, lost a 16-1 technical fall to Keenan McIntire. Considering the way McIntire wrestled, he deserved to win, but everyone on West Linn's side expected the match to be much closer.
It's possible that McClanathan may have lost some of his enthusiasm after seeing what happened in the match that preceded his.
In that 160-pound match, Milwaukie's Garrett Schnell was officially credited with a pin in 48 seconds. But the match probably ended several seconds before that when West Linn's Paul Garcia suffered a severely dislocated left elbow on Schnell's takedown move.
The meet was halted for a lengthy period while Garcia remained in the spot where he was pinned and waited for paramedics to arrive. After their arrival, it took several more minutes for the paramedics to stabilize Garcia's arm. He was then hoisted onto a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital.
Schnell's victory gave Milwaukie a 28-20 lead. But, after that depressing turn of events for Garcia, the team score seemed to carry much less significance for West Linn.
'That didn't help our momentum at all,' Samarron said. 'But it sure helped their momentum.'
West Linn finally broke the string of individual losses when Zach Sramek registered an impressive 12-2 major decision in the heavyweight match.
Even though the Lions still have some big meets coming up - like Thursday's league finale against Lake Oswego, the West Linn Invitational on Friday, then the district and state meets the following two weeks - Samarron is already plotting his strategy for next season.
'I think we can use this loss (to Milwaukie) as motivation for when we come to this point next year,' he said.
In the past, it seemed that other teams had to find ways to motivate themselves against West Linn. Now, the roles have been reversed and that's not an easy thing to accept.
'It's a little painful,' Samarron said of his team's disappointing season. 'Although, I've gotten used to losing ones (mainly against non-league opponents) that I used to win a lot.
'That's a little painful. But hats off to (Milwaukie). They took it to us…. They showed up ready to win.'
The bad news continued through the weekend when West Linn finished last (out of 23 teams) at the Reser's Invitational tournament in Hillsboro.
The Lions had a chance to fare a little better in that tournament but Samarron misread the tournament schedule and took everyone home before a late-night consolation round that was held on Friday. Paulson and Kim wound up missing their matches in that round and their subsequent forfeits knocked them out of the tournament.
Until then, Paulson and Kim represented West Linn's only chance to place someone among the top eight in their respective weight brackets. Even though it was a simple mistake, Samarron beat himself up because of it for the remainder of the weekend.
'I don't even want to think about it now,' Samarron said later. 'I had such a lump in my stomach for the next 48 hours.'
If it's any consolation, coaches from some of the other teams made the same mistake.
At least the Lions fared considerably better in Reser's junior varsity tournament. In that event, Mitch Gaulke won the 285-pound bracket while Schultzler was third at 130, Tony Shay was fifth at 119 and Emerson Helbling was fifth at 171.