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Wrestlers run away with district crown

Sandy crowns six weight-class champions en route to league championship


by: THE POST: PARKER LEE - Sandys Jonathan Morrell works for points against teammate Dakota Peterson in the 120-pound final.

Sandy had already clinched the Northwest Oregon Conference district championship before the finals session even started. The Pioneers came out and owned the championship round anyway. Six Sandy wrestlers were crowned as district champions with four others finishing second.

“I was really proud of the way the kids wrestled,” Sandy coach Robert Paul said. “We are taking 16 kids to state and there were a couple others who were just a point or a two away. They did really well.”

It was a thrilling victory for the Pioneers, and they had fun with it.

In the first final of the evening, Sandy teammates Kyle Grahn and Donavan Morrell were slated to spar for the 106-pound title. Not wanting to risk an injury before the state meet, Grahn and Morrell decided to settle things the old-fashioned way – with a game of rock, paper, scissors.

Grahn bested Morrell’s paper with rock to win the district championship.

A similar scenario presented itself in the 120-pound weight class when Sandy’s Jon Morrell and Dakota Peterson both advanced to the finals. This time, the two Pioneers actually wrestled, with Morrell coming away with a 6-4 win.

Sandy’s next win came from 132-pounder Brandon Mowery over Liberty’s Derrick Roy. For most of the first round, the two wrestlers just sized each other up. Roy let Mowery chase him around the mat, not wanting to engage.

As the first round was about to conclude, Mowery got tired of waiting around and he attacked. Mowery swiftly put Roy on his back, and almost had him pinned, but time ran out. One minute into the second round, Mowery again took down Roy. This time, Roy had no clock or buzzer to save him and Mowery won by fall at the 3:09 mark.

“I was waiting for him to take a shot,” Mowery said. “He didn’t, so I had to do it. Once I got him on the mat, I was able to overpower him.”

A handful of Mowery’s comrades likewise overpowered their opponents. Other victors for Sandy included 152-pound Tyler White (10-0 major decision), 170-pound Kyle Bateman (fall, 2:12) and 182-pound Jeremy Funk (7-4 decision).

Sandy’s accolades continued to roll in even after the meet was over. As the team championship was being awarded, Bateman was recognized as upper-division (152-285 pounds) district wrestler of the year. Paul was then named district coach of the year to cap the Pioneers’ flawless run through the Northwest Oregon Conference.

Sandy’s Rich hospitalized

The atmosphere at the Northwest Oregon Conference district championships shifted from spirited to somber in an instant. Sandy wrestler Richie Rich suffered an apparent neck injury in the second match of the meet against Liberty’s Kevin Rivas.

Rivas had taken a 4-1 lead in the early stages of the match, but Rich found new life late in the second round and he scored a takedown with 20 seconds left. With just four seconds remaining, Rich went in for another takedown, but Rivas took down Rich instead. As soon as Rich hit the mat, Rivas backed away and Rich didn’t move.

After remaining motionless for several minutes, emergency medical technicians were called in. They delicately transferred Rich from the mat to a stretcher before wheeling him out of the gym and into an ambulance. The EMTs drove the vehicle to the softball field where a helicopter was waiting. Rich was loaded onto the helicopter and flown to the hospital.

“He hit his head on the mat and had tingling in his feet,” Sandy coach Robert Paul said. “He could feel, but they took him as a precautionary measure. We are hoping to get a call telling us he will be ok.”