BOARDMAN — An eight-team tournament became a six-team tournament after a pair of late cancellations, but that hardly mattered to the Riverside wrestlers. The Pirates dominated the Riverside Rumble on Saturday, winning six of the 13 weight classes in a resounding team effort.
Riverside garnered 200 team points to outpace the second-place finishers from Heppner by a considerable distance. Heppner’s 113-point mark was just ahead of Colton in third at 113 and the JV squad from Mac-Hi at 100 for fourth. Irrigon (49 points) and Waitsburg-Prescott (24) rounded out the podium.
“The kids were really looking foward to wrestling at home and its nice to have such a good performance here,” said Richard Rockwell, the assistant coach for Riverside. “It’s only the second time we’ve ever won our home tournament.”
The Pirates now have a Riverside Rumble winning streak going as their first win of the tournament came last year, but by a far more narrow margin.
The winning came early and often for Riverside Saturday, which sported individual winners in the first four finals matches of the day. Hans Rockwell (113 pounds), Elijah Conlon (120), Edgar Navarro (126) and Martin Herrera (132) each came away with gold medals.
Rockwell — the lightest 113-pounder you’ve ever seen — normally wrestles at 106 pounds but had to bump up to compete Saturday. None of the other teams brought an entrant in his class.
“It was a little bit intense and it kind of made you feel a little intimidated because they’re a lot bigger than you,” he said. Some of that anxiety ceded as he wrestled a teammate in that weight class.
Rockwell’s finals match was a 13-3 decision over Ben Norgren of Colton that started with a quick takedown. He never let up after that, crafting a 10-1 lead after the first two-minute round.
The Pirate wins kept coming as the contestants got heavier. Trevor Graff took home the 145-pound class while Dan Puerta (195) won by default with no other wrestlers in his class.
Graff’s victory could be the poster child for determination. The Pirate fell behind early when his opponent, Mac-Hi’s Tavis Hodgen, took advantage of some mistakes to create an 8-0 lead. Despite the deficit, Graff said he didn’t get down on himself. In wrestling, a match can change in an instant.
And it did. He won with a second-round pin.
“I knew he was in a bad position and I had to take a shot,” Graff said. “It was all about battling and not giving up there when I was in a tough spot.”
The Pirates’ success came without senior Briton Hansen, a strong competitor at 182 pounds. He sat out the action after a collision and minor head injury ended his bid for a championship at the Free-Berry Classic tournament in Pendleton on Thursday.
Only one individual winner rose out of Heppner’s second-place finish — Tim Nelson at 220 pounds. Nelson pinned Riverside’s Brian Mendoza — one of four runners-up for the Boardman team.
Nelson has been the standout this season for the Mustangs, but their young program is starting to show some legs, head coach Mark Lemmon said. As a Class 2A program, tournaments with larger schools help Heppner prepare for the district meet at year’s end.
“We finally for the first time have as many experienced wrestlers as young wrestlers,” Lemmon said. “I think it’s starting to show through.”
Mac-Hi’s JV posted three winners — Blake Yensen (138), Braden Moller (170) and Miguel Medina (182) — while Andy Aguilera was the lone champion for Irrigon.