By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

In its first league dual of the season, McNary continued to show something you can’t coach—tenacity.

“It’s been a while since I’ve seen a group of kids come through and have that,” Celtics head coach Jason Ebbs said. “That’s props to these kids because a lot of kids these days are looking to their coach for this and that but there’s a powerful tool within oneself. You (as a coach) can tap into it, make it spring a leak maybe, and get it to show itself. They’re doing a great job. I’m just really happy with their tenacity.”

Behind five pins and two technical falls, McNary defeated McMinnville 40-30 at home on Thursday, Dec. 7.

At 195 pounds, McNary sophomore Randal Nordberg earned a pin just before the buzzer sounded on the first period to give the Celtics a quick 6-0 lead.

“I was very hyped,” said Nordberg, who has started the season 3-1 after a knee injury ended his freshman campaign early a year ago. He credited his teammates for the turnaround.

“I came to preseason and worked as hard as I could and just got lucky enough to make varsity,” Nordberg said. “It’s definitely starting off better than it was last year.”

In his first match at 220 pounds, Blake Norton then pinned Juan Contreras, a district placer, in the third period to stretch the Celtics lead to 12-0.

“I took fourth at districts last year (at 285) and this kid took fifth and I just thought of it as this kid is really going to set the tone for me this year,” Norton said. “My goal is to take first in districts this year and go far at state and place at state this year.”

After losing the heavyweight match, McNary continued to pad its lead in the lightweight divisions.

At 106 pounds, freshman Grady Burrows pinned his opponent in 17 seconds.

“I just went out there and did my thing and got the win for my team, a head snap, cradled him right up and got the pin,” Burrow said. “My brother (Sean) came up from college, first time seeing me. It was nice.”

At 113 and 126 pounds, Tony Castaneda and Austin Moore, two wrestlers with high school experience who missed last season, both earned technical falls to give the Celtics a 28-12 lead.

“It’s good to have Tony back in the lineup,” Ebbs said. “He’s been out for about a year. He’s had previous success and he’s trying to find his groove again and today was a good opening for him.

“They (McMinnville) were completely new on the lightweights. We were completely new on the lightweights so it was good to see us win those matches. I told them before the dual, when it comes to new guys wrestling new guys or young guys wrestling young guys, this dual is going to be won right there and they did a good job.”

McNary junior Enrique Vincent took care of business at 132 pounds, pinning his opponent in 33 seconds.

But with two close wins at 132 and 138, McMinnville began to cut into the Celtics lead and a pin at 160 got the Grizzlies within 34-27 with two matches to go.

However, McNary senior Brayden Ebbs (170) was able to stop the momentum, pinning his opponent in the first period to secure the team win for the Celtics.

“We lost this dual last year so this is a good mark for us,” coach Ebbs said. “Apples to apples, we’re a notch a head right now and now our job is to continue to develop. We haven’t even coached a lot of moves yet. We’ve narrowed it down to a few specific concepts and we’re just trying to focus on the things that are working well for them, which is their intensity.”

McNary is competing in a six-way tournament in Silverton on Saturday and then goes to South Salem on Thursday, Dec. 14 at 5 p.m.