Joseph Hunter tries to flip Oly Jake Vaughn in his match Thursday, Jan. 30. Hunter ended up pinned by Vaughn. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Joseph Hunter tries to flip Oly Jake Vaughn in his match Thursday, Jan. 30. Hunter ended up pinned by Vaughn. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes 

It said a lot about the quality of competition that in the first eight matches only one ended with a pin.

That was the case when the McNary High School varsity wrestling team hosted the Sprague High School Olympians in a dual meet Thursday, Jan. 30. Sprague won the battle 42-24 as the Olympians came up with crucial pins in the middle weight classes.

“That was a great duel. We won a few matches that we weren’t so sure about on paper. We have faith in our training, but there’s still questions that need answering,” said Jason Ebbs, McNary head coach.

The evening started with a trio of Celtic wins. First on the mat was sophomore Kyle Bond in his first varsity match-up against Oly Justin Vasquez-Ellis.

“At first I was a bit scared, but then I remembered to focus and  tried to keep it to the basics of shooting and stand-ups,” Bond said.

Bond started the match trailing, but overcame the deficit and more to take the 9-4 win.

“He was quicker than I thought, and a bit stronger at first, but I figured out how to use it in my favor,” Bond said.

Junior Steven Wilkerson said finding a way to turn the tables on Oly Jacob Nelson was a matter of getting into, and at, Nelson’s head.

“Our coaches told us their heavyweights like to go for the head so I decided I was going to do the same thing and see how he liked it,” Wilkerson said. “He put his head down each time I did it, but then brought it up slowly. So I took the shot and I knew I had him.”

Wilkerson emerged with the 7-3 win.

Sean Burrows notched a major decision, 18-5, win over Sprague’s Evan Spragg, but then Celt Joey Kibbey fell victim to the first pin of the night in the third round of his match. A Louis Palos win by decision, 6-4, kept the team comfortably ahead for the Olys, but two decisions and four pins for the Olys had the Celts trailing in short order.

Junior Taran Purkey staunched the bleeding with a win by pin in 1:26 over the ninth-ranked Corson Davis.

“Purkey has a weird strength about him that makes him difficult to move and difficult to get away from. As soon as the scramble turned into a head-and-arm for Purkey I saw there was a minute left, and I knew the world was not on Corson’s side anymore,” Ebbs said. “I don’t even know if I want to be in Taran’s head-and-arm, it’s just not a good place to be.”

Sprague picked up another win by forfeit, but Celt Alvarro Venegas finished out the night with a 17-0 tech fall in four minutes.

It was something of a quiet week for the high school squad compared to recent ones that have included weekend tournaments, but the Celtic Mat Club took five wrestlers to the Oregon Wrestling Association Kids Collegiate Championship and came home with four placers.

Brayden Ebbs and Hunter Lucas placed third, Burrows took fourth and Wyatt Kessler took sixth.