By MATT RAWLINGS
Of the Keizertimes
Even though the McNary wrestling squad is among the youngest in the Mountain Valley Conference, the Celtics have shown over the course of the season that they have a lot of potential.
And they proved it once in their first home dual of the year.
The Celtics won their first MVC meet of the season on Wednesday, Jan. 16, defeating West Salem in convincing fashion by a score of 50-22.
Even though it was an impressive victory, McNary head coach Jason Ebbs doesn’t want his kids to lose sight of what their focus is.
“This was a very nice, competitive dual for us and I thought our kids looked good,” Ebbs said. “But were not going up and putting notches in our hat quite yet. We still need to focus on improvement.”
“We’ve still got a long ways to go, but if we take advantage of the time we have over the next four weeks, we’re going to win more matches.”
After West Salem forfeited the 182-pound match, Garrett Wampler started the night off for the Celtics in the 195-pound bout. Even though he was wrestling up a division, Wampler dominated his opponent and earned a pin late in the first round.
“I just went in there knowing that I could get in control right off the bat,” Wampler said.
Anthony Garcia-Reyes continued to build the momentum for McNary in the following match. The junior 220-pounder took a big lead on the scoreboard after getting a big three-point takedown early in the second round, then eventually forced a fall late in the third round.
With two straight pins, as well as a pair of forfeits, the Celtics 24-0 lead set the tone for the rest of the match.
“Winning early and getting the ball rolling is huge,” Ebbs said. “It’s a product of the hours and hours those kids put in at practice against each other.”
In the 113-pound match, McNary’s Grady Burrows appeared to be in deep trouble when he was sent to the mat late in the first round. But the sophomore was able to keep his shoulder blades just off the ground by the time the buzzer sounded, avoiding the early fall.
When the third round of the match began, West Salem’s Lance McClung came at Burrows and tried a leg throw, but Burrows saw it coming from a mile away.
“I knew that West (Salem) likes to throw in legs, so that’s what I was kind of anticipating him to do,” Burrows said.
Burrows combated the move, maneuvered his body and sent McClung to the floor, earning the fall 21 seconds into the final round.
After the victory, Burrows pointed over to McNary assistant coach Sam Martin — who coached at West Salem last season.
“It was my way to tell Coach Martin that win was for him,” Burrows said.
Ryan Bamford (170 lbs.) earned the third and final pin for the Celtics in this one.
McNary’s Daniel Hernandez (126 lbs.) won via 5-3 decision and Matthew Mehlhoff (152 lbs.) was victorious in his match with a technical fall while leading 25-10.
McNary will host their next match tonight against North Salem at 7 p.m.