The Lions open the 2022-23 season in fine form, winning big at Tualatin.
The West Linn wrestling team isn’t at its best right now.
And that’s OK.
The Lions are currently operating at less than full strength due to injuries and other issues, and have yet to flex the team muscle that they likely will by year’s end.
And that’s OK.
But even at less than full strength, West Linn is really, really good, as Tualatin found out on Wednesday, Dec. 14. The Lions, competing against the Timberwolves at Tualatin High School in both teams’ Three Rivers League opener, won 10 of 14 weight classes and rolled to a comfortable 57-21 victory.
“We’re good,” said West Linn senior Justin Rademacher, who won with a first-round pin at 182 pounds. “We’ve got backups who have had to step up right now because we’ve got some injuries going on, some … injuries and sickness, but those things are going to happen and come and go and it’s good that some guys were able to step up.”
“We have a great team, great coaching staff, great support system,” said Lion senior Ben Winjum, another winner by first-round fall at 195. “Our whole team is really a family and I think that helps us keep going and helps out the younger guys. The second guys are super important for district and state and all that stuff. The second guys are really what make or break a season so I’m super happy with how all those guys showed up today and took care of business.”
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re just going to keep getting in the room and keep getting better,” added WL junior Henry Dillingham, who notched a second-round pin at 145. “That’s all we can ask.”
With the win, the Lions improved to 1-0 in Three Rivers League action. The Timberwolves, meanwhile, fell to 0-1 in TRL competition. Next up, West Linn will compete in the Reno Tournament of Champions in Reno, Nevada, on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 16-17.
On Wednesday, the Lions and Wolves traded wins in the night’s first two weights, with West Linn freshman Romeo Daly beating Ian Crow 9-3 at 106 and Tualatin’s Justin Castillo notching a second-round pin over Lion sophomore Ryan Muzzy at 112 to give the Wolves their only lead of the night at 6-3.
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But after that, West Linn strung together five straight wins to take a 33-6 lead that it would not relinquish. Junior Colby Cook got that run started when he pinned Tualatin’s Corbin Pepiot in just 49 seconds at 120. Sophomore Nate Gusdorf then pushed his team’s lead to 15-6 when he pinned Tualatin’s Alex Nogueda at 126.
After that, West Linn sophomore Oscar Doces pinned Darney Motellang midway through the second round at 132, Lion senior Josh Abarca stopped Logan Shattuck in just 1:18 at 138, and Dillingham built a 5-0 lead over Roberto Perez before pinning him with 54 seconds left in the second period at 145 to boost his team’s lead to 33-6.
“It’s my first match this year and I was excited to be back on the mat,” Dillingham said. “I was ready for tonight, prepared pretty good, had a pretty good weight cut and felt good about the match.”
Tualatin answered with its best stretch of the night, winning three straight matches at 152, 160 and 170 to close within 33-21. Those “Ws” included Jesse Gutierrez’s first-round pin of senior Logan Owens at 152, Josue Gutierrez’s 9-3 decision over sophomore Lucas Gray at 160 and Daniel Olivia’s first-round pin against Henry James at 170.
But West Linn extinguished Tualatin’s hopes then and there, posting four straight pins from 182 to 285 for the final 57-21 margin. Rademacher kicked off that stretch with a dominating first-round pin of Kevin Aitel at 182.
“I feel great.,” Rademacher said. “I’ve been working hard ever since summer … (and) came back ready for folkstyle season.”
Winjum kept the momentum going with a pin of Adiy Khan in just 47 seconds at 195.
“It was good,” Winjum said. “This was my first match of the season because I’ve been dealing with a shoulder injury so I was just super excited to come out and wrestle and I wanted to do the classic stuff I normally do, get into situations that I’m used to and that’s kind of what I did. I think I did what I planned to do from the start and I was happy with how it went.”
The Lions then closed the night with pins from senior Earl Ingle at 220 and senior Liam Armstrong at 285, with Ingle beating Sabon Tanha in just 1:15 and Armstrong stopping Ryder Jones in 1:22.
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