Even though the Nestucca High School wrestling team was low on numbers this past weekend, they certainly made their presence felt at the inaugural Taft Holiday Crab Pools tournament in Lincoln City.
The Bobcats competed in the 13 school, 123 wrestler field with just a few wrestlers competing Dec. 5.
“We had a fairly small group at Taft with several wrestlers missing because of family or health issues,” head coach Aaron Pearn said.
Unlike traditional wrestling tournaments that the kids compete in, head wrestling coach at Taft Robb Ellis wanted to experiment with a different tournament format.
“The concept was a unique one, as we tried to pair wrestlers by skill level into four-man pools and a few three and five-man pools where wrestlers got to wrestle two, three or four matches against wrestlers with similar experience and ability,” Ellis said.
For Nestucca, they had a few notable performances, both expected and somewhat surprising for Pearn. For the expected, reigning district champion Samuel Osias had a solid day going 2-1 in the tournament.
“Sammie had a good day beating a returning state qualifier from Newport and a ranked kid from Yamhill-Carlton,” Pearn said. “Sammie has been wrestling at 132 all season but only weighs about 128 and will soon be in the 126 pound weight class.”
For the somewhat surprising, Pearn received a pair of solid outings from basketball players turned wrestlers Nahum Mondragon and Ben Hurliman, who each went undefeated on Saturday.
“Nahum is a guy that is just trying out wrestling this year while playing basketball at the same time,” Pearn said. “He won all four of his matches and is now 6-2 on the season. He is really just scratching the surface of his potential in this sport.”
Pearn feels Mondragon among others has a great chance at making a run at districts next month.
Also going undefeated on the day was first year wrestler, and varsity basketball starter, Ben Hurliman, who went 2-0 on Saturday.
“He has only had probably six practices all season but makes up for that with great athleticism for his size at 182,” Pearn said of Hurliman.
Pearn was pleased with his team’s performance given the tough competition and low numbers. However, he still sees some of the little things that need improvement before they begin to face their district opponents in the coming weeks.
“Some of our guys are very close to turning a corner they are just missing a technique here or there, getting caught in bad positions or simply just overthinking it and it’s costing them matches,” Pearn said. “But overall it was a good tournament for us and Robb Ellis put a lot of work into getting both varsity and JV level guys competitive matches in small four-man round robin brackets.”