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LO claims first mat win over Pacers

LO wrestlers break 35-year drought against Lakeridge and they win their first
by: Vern Uyetake, Lake Oswego’s Kyle Allison, top, positions himself for a pin against Lakeridge’s Phil Rogers in last Thursday’s dual meet, which the Lakers won 66-9. It was the first time Lake Oswego has beaten Lakeridge in wrestling and it was the Lakers’ first league victory in 13 years.

The wait is finally over.

Last Thursday marked a monumental date in Lake Oswego High School wrestling as the Lakers beat Lakeridge for the first time in the 35-year rivalry between the two schools.

Neither school has had a juggernaut program during that time, but the battles between the two teams were usually intense. It was always a one-sided battle, though. At least it was until last Thursday when the Lakers scored a resounding 66-9 victory over the Pacers.

The lopsided score was a little misleading, though, since Lakeridge was so short-handed that it was forced to forfeit six matches. Of the seven matches that were contested, however, the Lakers clearly had the upper hand - winning five and all of them by pins.

The victory not only ended Lake Oswego's losing skid against its chief rival, it also ended the Lakers' 13-year losing streak in league matches.

'It feels pretty dog gone good,' Lake Oswego coach Chad Smith said after the meet. 'I don't want to gloat … but we're pretty excited.'

It might not be sportsman-like to gloat, but the Lakers certainly deserve a big pat on the back for turning around a program that had become all but forgotten at Lake Oswego High School.

Earlier this month, the Lakers won a dual meet against South Salem and finished third in a tournament at Sherwood. Those might not be major achievements when compared to a team like top-ranked West Linn, but it at least shows the program is headed in the right direction.

'It's been a lot of hard work and the kids are dedicated,' Smith said of his squad. 'They believe in the program and they believe in themselves.'

The Lakers got their meet against Lakeridge off to a good start when 145-pound senior MacAdam Lea pinned James Taylor, giving the visitors a quick 12-0 lead (following a forfeit at 140).

The Lakers' Max D'Annibale kept things going when he pinned Jeff Saporito at 152 pounds. But the Pacers got those six points back when Taylor London pinned Jake Dadhka at 160 pounds.

Pat Barry, who doubles as the place kicker for the Lake Oswego football team, pushed the Lakers' lead to 24-6 when he pinned Sam Anderson midway through the third round of the 171-pound match. Then it was 30-6 when the Lakers' Kashi Jafari pinned Ryan Bliss with 31 seconds left in the first round of the 189-pound match.

Then came a series of forfeits - at 215, 285, 112, 119 and 125 - all of them in Lake Oswego's favor, which pushed the Lakers' lead to 60-6.

That left just two matches on the evening's slate, and the first of those two featured the night's only decision. The verdict, by a 7-0 count, favored Lakeridge's Jason Weiss over the Lakers' Iain Dexter. Lake Oswego's 135-pound Kyle Allison then ended the night when he pinned Phil Rogers late in the first round.

The Lake Oswego team includes only two seniors, so it was ironic that one of them would start the night with a pin and the other would end the night with a pin.

'I don't know if you could ask for anything nicer or sweeter than that,' Smith said.

While the emotions were running high for the Lakers, things seem to be at the other end of the spectrum for the Pacers, who have had more than share of hard luck lately.

'It's been tough,' Lakeridge coach Forest Marcum said of a season that has been racked with injuries and an assortment of other setbacks.

'We've had a broken wrist, a broken neck, a broken leg … Plus, we had a kid whose mom died, we had a kid whose great-grandmother died, we had a coach whose grandma died and we've had captains quit to pursue other endeavors.

'I think we've lost 15 kids since the beginning of the season. And they were our guys,' the Lakeridge coach lamented.

The Pacers are now down to 10 wrestlers, but that's assuming that two of them return from injuries that Marcum somehow forget to mention.

The team's top wrestler - 152-pound Jeff Hutchens - is sidelined with cracked vertebrae - and 125-pound Nick Wilkins missed last Thursday's match with a concussion. Before his injury, Hutchens had lost only three times this season and was eyeing a high seed at next week's district tournament.

'He was wrestling really tough for us,' Marcum said. 'That was a big loss.'

Despite the fact that his team was severely short-handed, Marcum was still quick to congratulate Lake Oswego on its achievement.

'I give LO a lot of credit. They were a little tougher and they out-fought us,' the Pacers' coach said. 'Lake Oswego has gotten a lot better and Chad (Smith) deserves a lot of credit for that. I have nothing but positive things to say about them.'