The seniors win the final two matches by fall to give the Cougars a 40-31 victory in their league opener.

by: JEFF GOODMAN / PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - The Canby wrestling team reacts to senior Alejandro Sandoval's pin in the heavyweight bout Jan. 9 in its league-opening home dual against Oregon City.With two matches remaining in the dual, the Canby wrestling team found itself trailing and in need of a comeback.

Luckily for the Cougars, two of their best wrestlers were in line to help.

Keltin Boykin scored the go-ahead points with a win by fall, and Alejandro Sandoval earned a pin in the heavyweight bout to put the exclamation points on a thrilling 40-31 victory over Oregon City in the conference opener at home Jan. 9.

It seemed like an appropriate conclusion to a stirring Three Rivers League rivalry series that will end when the Pioneers leave for the Mt. Hood Conference next year. The teams alternated victories in the final four meetings, each one decided by 11 points or fewer.

This year’s triumph offered a measure of redemption for Canby (4-2, 1-0 in the TRL), which dropped a heartbreaking 36-34 decision last year despite Sandoval’s victory in the final match.

“We’ve been hyping this one up for a couple weeks,” coach Jeremy Ensrud said. “We knew it was going to be a good one. On the first day at the Pac-Coast (tournament), we were separated by one point. So we knew it would be close.”

The Cougars built up an early 22-6 lead on Nick Strnad’s win by decision at 138 pounds, but Oregon City capped a 25-6 run with a pin in the 195-pound match to take a 31-28 edge with two rounds remaining.

Enter Boykin, a North Marion transfer who has been a key contributor for Canby. Usually slotted to compete at 195, the senior was moved up to 220 to fill a hole in the lineup.

“Instead of giving up a forfeit, we moved some guys around to see if we could get something,” Ensrud said. “It worked out. (Boykin) could’ve gotten a little a tired with a big guy pushing him around, but he got the job done.”

Boykin gave up a significant weight advantage to Mack Civil but mustered a 3-0 edge through two rounds with his signature fast-movement style.

After Civil picked up one escape point early in the third round, Boykin seemed to summon a surge of energy before bringing his opponent to the mat. He then worked for a fall in 4 minutes 53 seconds to give the Cougars a three-point lead.

“He was heavy, slippery and so sweaty,” Boykin said. “I could have grip tape on and I would still slip out. I was trying to turn and flip him, but he was so slippery that I just slipped off.

“(The win) was crucial. If I didn’t pull through, then we were definitely done.”

Even with Boykin’s pin, however, the team victory remained up for grabs as Sandoval took the mat against Keith Arnold.

Energized after watching his teammate’s triumph, Sandoval battled Arnold through a scoreless first round before taking control in the second.

“I’m always pretty confident when Alejandro is out there,” Ensrud said. “I knew it was just a matter of time.”

Teammates and coaches rose from their seats along the mat as Sandoval came close to pinning his opponent. When he ended the match in 3:35, they erupted in celebratory cheers.

“It feels better — a lot better,” Sandoval said, recalling his bittersweet win in last year’s loss at Oregon City. “It’s a good way to start the season. I knew it was going to be tough because I wrestled (Arnold) in the summer, but I came out and went a little harder than I did (the last time). I was a little worried about it, but I knew I had to push myself.”

It helped Canby that the Pioneers were without returning state qualifier Tanner Fischer (knee). But the Cougars still had to overcome the absence of senior Noel Hygelund, a returning state placer who sat out the dual after spraining his knee at a recent tournament.

They also had to adjust their lineup to replace wrestlers recovering from flu-like symptoms, Ensrud said.

“Some of those guys did a really good job, and some were able to hold off a score,” he said.

Sam Megale (132) won by fall in 1:01. Nate Maravilla (113) earned a 9-1 major decision. Jesus Zuriaga (120) logged a 7-2 decision. Gus Warren (106) won by forfeit.

With Canby clutching a six-point lead, senior Tama Willis (160) pulled off a rousing pin of Wyatt Griffith in 3:01. It was the team’s last victory until the final two matches.

“It fired the team up,” Ensrud said of the win by Willis. “It got us to the point where we were like, ‘Hey, this is in our grasp. We can do this.’ It turned the tides — in our minds, anyway.”



Canby 40, Oregon City 31

Jan. 9 at Canby High School

106: Gus Warren (Canby) wins by forfeit

113: Nate Maravilla (Canby) d. Ryan Leonard 9-1 major

120: Jesus Zuriaga (Canby) d. Saul Lopez 7-2

126: Devin Poppen (OC) d. Alek Purtzer fall 4:05

132: Sam Megale (Canby) d. Dennis Podloujnyi fall 1:01

138: Nick Strnad (Canby) d. James Smith 11-4

145: Alex Canchola (OC) d. Misha Ivanov fall 4:48

152: Ryan Bergerson (OC) d. Moises Chavez 12-2 major

160: Tama Willis (Canby) d. Wyatt Griffith fall 3:01

171: Gabe Ellicott (OC) d. Jacob Posey 4-0

182: Michael Griffin (OC) d. Zane Rise fall 1:48

195: Grant Hicks (OC) d. Tanner Monen fall 3:41

220: Keltin Boykin (Canby) d. Mack Civil fall 4:53

285: Alejandro Sandoval (Canby) d. Keith Arnold fall 3:32



A look at the last four league duals between Canby and Oregon City:

2011: Oregon City 34, Canby 31

2012: Canby 43, Oregon City 32

2013: Oregon City 36, Canby 34

2014: Canby 40, Oregon City 31