C.J. Paxton grimaces while trying to hold his opponent to the mat during the Bruins’ first league dual meet of the season. Paxton would win by pin. The Pilot/Jef Hatch
The final team score of the Brookings-Harbor High School versus Douglas wrestling dual meet failed to reflect the quality of wrestling that occurred Wednesday night under the spotlight in the high school gym.
What the Bruins’ 42-45 loss did reflect was a slick bit of chicanery by Douglas Head Coach Steve Evans and some clever countermoves by Bruins Head Coach Dave Freeman to keep the score close.
Between the two teams there were eight scheduled forfeits in the 106, 113, 170, 195, 220 and 285-pound weight classes and, according to dual meet rules, each coach alternated sending their wrestler to check in at the scorer’s table first.
When it came time for 160-pounder Tim Drafahl to wrestle – and most likely pin the Douglas grappler, according to Evans – Evans pulled a fast one and moved his wrestler to a higher weight class to hand Drafahl a victory by forfeit rather than a pin.
Drafahl, who had been sidelined by illness for the majority of the preseason, was torn by his inability to get on the mat.
“I was so frustrated,” he said. “I was so ready to go. It’s ridiculous that they wouldn’t wrestle me.”
Freeman wasn’t surprised by the move though.
“I knew that they would move some of their wrestlers,” Freeman said. “I just didn’t know when it would happen.”
The points gained by forfeit are equal to those gained by pin, but by moving his wrestler to a higher weight class, the Douglas coach was attempting to leverage his wrestlers to a greater margin of victory.
Freeman was quick to counter by forfeiting the next two matches and bumping C.J. Paxton to the 195-pound bracket to face his scheduled opponent.
Evans was quick to compliment Freeman’s move.
“We would have won by a lot more,” he said, “but Dave made a great move and kept the score close.”
Brookings-Harbor swept the JV bouts with Tyler Marrington, Adan Branbilla and Brandon Holteen all claiming victory by points, and Justin Schultz taking a quick pin to win in just 23 seconds.
Branbilla’s 126-pound match was close through three 2-minute rounds, and Branbilla was behind 7-9 with just 30 seconds remaining when he was able to escape for a point and score two more on a takedown to win the match 10-9.
“I’m really proud of Adan,” Freeman said. “He has worked really hard and has improved as time has gone by. He is one of the kids on the team that we are really proud of.”
Holteen, 145, dominated his opponent, rolling him to his back at will to score back points before letting him up to do it all over again. Holteen scored a major technical fall with an 18-3 victory.
Marrington, 152, controlled his opponent throughout the match to score two takedowns and an escape point. He gave up two escape points and a technical violation point for locked hands to win 7-3.
The varsity matches were a mixed bag of wins and losses with Sam Strom taking a victory by forfeit in the 106-pound weight bracket, and the Bruins giving up a forfeit in the 113-pound division.
The first varsity match brought rookie wrestler Jayson Worley onto the mat to face Douglas’ Caleb Willis in the 120-pound weight class.
Worley was pinned at the 46-second mark.
In the 126-pound weight class, senior Pete Peterson showed why he was a finalist in the 2010-2011 OSAA 4A state finals, defeating Michael Mason with a pin in 52 seconds.
Levi Williams faced Ryan Warren in the 132-pound weight class and lost 1-6 as he appeared to be exhausted in the later rounds of the match.
According to Freeman, a lack of conditioning hurt a great number of the Bruin wrestlers as their matches progressed into the second and third rounds.
“We need to get in better shape,” he said. “We’ve got to get dedicated and be focused for one month and three weeks.”
In the 138-pound weight class Patrick Holmes faced off against second place state finisher Brian Middleton and was pinned after 1:07 of competition which, according to Holmes, is longer than most of Middleton’s opponents last.
“I took him pretty far into the match,” Holmes said. “I feel pretty good about how I wrestled.”
The 145-pound weight class saw an unfortunate matchup as a victory-hungry Cole Hannan took Jared Dean down for a pin in just 37 seconds.
Hannan latched onto Dean’s leg from the whistle, took him down and pinned him before Dean even had a chance to shift from his starting position.
“I was mentally ready,” Hannan said. “I feel kind of bummed that we don’t have a tourney this weekend, but I’m ready to keep on wrestling.
“I’d like to go undefeated through the regionals and make it to state again this year.”
In the 152-pound weight class, Ethan Williams took his match into the third round before being pinned at the 5:48 mark.
Drafahl would win the 160-pound bracket by forfeit and the Bruins forfeited the 170 and 182 brackets before Paxton defeated Chance Wimberly by pin.
While Paxton won, he wasn’t happy with his performance.
“I’m kind of out of shape from Christmas break and I was tired,” he said. “I need to improve on conditioning and my shots.”
While he had identified the problems in his match, Paxton was also aware of what had gone right.
“My arm bar was good,” he said. “I got him to his back every time. I just need to keep working hard in practice and improve.”
Freeman couldn’t agree more.
“If we wrestle how we’re capable, we potentially have a chance of winning districts for the second year in a row,” Freeman said. “I really believe we still have a shot if we get dedicated.”
The Bruins’ next match will be on the road at 6 p.m. on Thursday at North Bend High School.