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Wrestlers leave coach nothing to worry about

Sandy takes out a top challenger by winning 10 weight classes


by: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Sandys Kyle Grahn works from the top position en route to a third-period pin at 120 pounds Thursday against Liberty. The Sandy wrestling team didn’t need any added incentive to perform well in Thursday’s Northwest Oregon Conference dual-meet against Liberty, but the Falcons gave the Pioneers some bulletin-board material anyway.

“Liberty made it one of their team goals to beat us, so we took that very seriously,” Sandy co-coach Larry Topliff said. “We felt we had to come out and really dominate, and the boys rose to the occasion.”

Sandy smoked its conference foe in the season’s first dual, winning 59-22 in a meet that was never close. For that matter, most of the individual matches weren’t close, either. The Pioneers prevailed in 10 of the 14 matches with each win coming by forfeit, technical fall or fall.

Edin Zepeda won by forfeit at 106 pounds, but wrestled an exhibition match which he won by major decision. In the 120-pound showdown, Sandy’s Kyle Grahn pinned Liberty’s Gage Vanderhoff 39 seconds into the third round. Grahn nearly pinned Vanderhoff twice earlier in the match, but was foiled both times, once when the clock expired and once when Vanderhoff managed to inch out of bounds.

Dakota Peterson followed up Grahn’s win by fall with one of his own at 126 pounds. Peterson took down Liberty’s Kevin Rivas and secured a firm hold with 15 seconds left in the first round. He held the lock for just long enough and the referee slapped the mat with three seconds left.

Jonathan Morrell made it three pins in a row for Sandy when he disposed of Marcos Gallegos in the 132-pound weight class. Morrell earned an early two-point takedown and Gallegos was immediately put on the defensive. Gallegos expelled all of his effort trying to escape, but Morrell refused to release him and eventually rolled him to his back to win by fall at 2:44.

After Liberty won by forfeit at 138 pounds, Sandy rolled off wins in six consecutive matches. In all six matches, the Falcons only scored points when Sandy voluntarily allowed them to escape a hold.

At 145 pounds, Liberty’s Michael Feltman had a chance to make some headway when he grabbed hold of Blane Hays’ leg in the first round. Feltman had Hays hopping around on one leg for about a minute, but couldn’t take down the Pioneer. In the second round, the roles were reversed and Hays had Feltman by the leg. Hays took down Feltman hard and the Liberty wrestler landed awkwardly, injuring his left knee, and the match had to be called with five seconds left in the round.

C.J. McKinnis was methodical in his domination of Liberty’s Dylan Frank in the 160-pound match. McKinnis took down Frank whenever he wanted. If he couldn’t secure a pin right away, he let Frank up and tried again. With a 16-6 lead, McKinnis found an inescapable hold 24 seconds into the second round.

“Every match, I try to feel out my opponent right at the beginning to see what he is going to do, then I start working my stuff,” McKinnis said. “Eventually, everything started opening up.”

Spencer Barnett (170 pounds) then pinned Liberty’s Jordan Grenfell at 3:35, after which Devin White (182 pounds) breezed by Kaelin Himphill to win by technical fall (20-5).

If you blinked, you missed most of the match at 195 pounds. Sandy’s Jeremy Funk and Liberty’s Jose Alaguna circled the mat for about half-a-minute, then Funk shot in, swept Alaguna to his back and earned the pin in less than five seconds.

Liberty was expected to be one of the Pioneers’ toughest tests on their way to another conference title. The convincing win over the Falcons suggests that this Sandy team might be deeper than last year’s title squad.

“These duals kill me,” Topliff said. “I worry, and worry and worry, and they come out and perform. I guess I should stop worrying.”