By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
SALEM—McNary had a two-point lead through nine matches at West Salem.
But the Titans won the final five, including three by pin fall, to defeat the Celtics 51-26 on Thursday, Jan. 5 in their first Greater Valley Conference dual of the season.
“As soon as we got done with 152, we were hitting the strength of their lineup,” McNary head coach Jason Ebbs said. “That was all of their talent and all of their better guys. We knew that coming in. We knew that up by two at 160 was not going to be enough to ride that wave out.”
After Noah Gatchet won by forfeit at 106 pounds to give the Celtics a 6-0 lead, West Salem won three matches in a row, all by pin fall, to go ahead 18-6.
At 132 pounds, Sean Burrows was able to end the streak by pinning Mason Meredith in the second period.
After the Titans picked up another pin to expand their advantage back to 12, McNary won three straight to take a 26-24 lead. At 145 pounds, Noah Grunberg won a 13-2 major decision. Wyatt Kesler then pinned Luke Liedkie in the first period at 152 pounds and Brayden Ebbs won a 14-0 major decision at 160 pounds.
Isaiah Putnam looked to continue the winning streak at 170 pounds. But leading 9-7 in the third period, he was slammed to the ground and pinned by Seth De Leon.
“We’re going to grow from that and we’ll be OK,” coach Ebbs said. “Isaiah’s been here before.”
Ebbs was proud of the guys who hadn’t been here before, like freshman Tyshawn Sang, who given the option of wrestling defending conference champion Brenton Reddy at 182 pounds or jumping up to 195, chose to take on the champ.
“How do you get upset about that?” Ebbs said. “Good for him. He’s got the right kind of spirit. All we need is time.”
Due to injuries, the latest being senior Carlos Vincent, McNary had six freshmen or first-time wrestlers in it’s lineup at West Salem.
“Rather than talk about what we could do or should do, I’m going to go home and be proud of my young kids,” Ebbs said. “They got experience they don’t normally get. Our juniors and seniors should be in the lineup and we’re putting freshmen in. If they stick with it and do the things we teach, it will pay off in a year or two.
The Celtics will return to West Salem on Feb. 17-18 for the district meet.
“The good news is we’ve got until February to get better,” Ebbs said. “We’ve got a lineup on a piece of paper that if it comes out in February, we’ll be fine.”