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A collection of pins give Sandy a lopsided win at Liberty on Thursday night

by: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Sandy rookie Donovan Morrell turns his opponent Rodrigo Garcia of Liberty during his win at 106 pounds Thursday night.

HILLSBORO — The Sandy wrestling team wanted to make a statement early in the season that it was the team to beat in the Northwest Oregon Conference. On Thursday night, Liberty got the message.

The Pioneers easily took care of the Falcons, 45-28, on Thursday in what was supposed to be one of Sandy's biggest tests of the year.

“We knew they stacked up well against us,” Sandy coach Robert Paul said. “Liberty has been on our radar since the end of last year. We saw them as the team that had the best chance to knock us off, so we were pretty pumped up.”

Freshman Donovan Morrell came out in the opening, 106-pound weight match and set the tone for the rest of the meet. Morrell, who was making his varsity debut, held a slight lead at the end of the first round, but was hindered by a bloody nose for the rest of the match.

The referee had to stop the battle several times to get Morrell, and the mat, cleaned up. After the fifth blood timeout, Sandy coaches decided to keep the bleeding to a minimum by taping Morrell's nose shut, wrapping what seemed like an entire roll of tape around his head and face. Undeterred, he pinned Liberty's Rodrigo Garcia with just 10 seconds left in the third round to earn the full six points for Sandy.

“In middle school, I got a bloody nose in almost every match, so that didn't bother me,” Morrell said. “It was tough being the first one out there, but my teammates helped to get me through it.”

Morrell shared the spotlight with his older brother, John. In the 126-pound match John Morrell made quick work of Liberty's Chris Schramm, pinning him in just one and a half minutes in what was the fastest match of the dual. The Pioneers were in control from there.

“I felt like we were the aggressors most of the night,” Paul said. “We did a good job take away their strategies.”

The Morrells had several teammates join them in the winners' circle.

Dakota Petersen mustered a win by fall with 47 seconds remaining in the third round of the 120-pound match. Brandon Mowery (145), Kyle Bateman (170) and Devin White (182) all pinned their opponents in the second round, while Andrew Funk (195) earned a win by fall in the first round. At 152 pounds, Tyler White won by decision, 5-2.

With the lopsided victory, the Pioneers are now in the NWOC driver's seat, and the conference crown is theirs to lose.

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