It was a battle of heavyweights, both literally and figuratively. Jackson Constant's pin in the 285-pound bout locked up Oak Harbor's 43-36 win over Stanwood in a fight for first place in the Wesco 3A North wrestling standings Thursday, Jan. 17.
The win capped an eventful evening in front of a boisterous home crowd for the Wildcats. Before the match Oak Harbor honored its 15 seniors for their contributions to the program, then the team and coaching staff received a surprise award.
The Skagit-Island wrestling officials association presented Oak Harbor with the Gary Knutzen Spirit of Wrestling Award for program sportsmanship.
Oak Harbor coach Mike Crebbin said the Knutzen award is "a reflection of my staff and my kids."
He added, "I have a wonderful group of assistant coaches, and I have great kids; they are so respectful. They are a great representation of their parents."
Though the conference season is only half over, the Stanwood/Oak Harbor match went a long way in determining who will eventually carry home the Wesco North title.
The two teams, Stanwood at 10-0 and Oak Harbor at 12-1, entered the match with the league's finest season marks.
On paper, Crebbin said, the match looked even. He figured each team was favored in half of the 14 weight classes and the team to register the most bonus points (team points awarded above the standard three-point decision) would most likely win.
Oak Harbor eventually took eight of the 14 bouts, and needed every one because Stanwood maximized its team total by earning falls in all six of its wins.
All the Wildcat wins were critical, Crebbin said, but three were pivotal: Constant's and upset victories by Jeremy Vester (126 pounds) and Joshua Crebbin (160).
Vester, 11th-ranked in the latest Washington Wrestling Report poll, pinned (4:38) eighth-ranked Jacob Scott.
Sixth ranked Crebbin, after being nearly pinned in the first period, started on the bottom the second round, earned a reversal and stuck second-ranked Zack Schut at 2:27.
While every Wildcat wrestler's team points contributed equally to the eventual outcome, none came with more pressure than Constant's. Oak Harbor led 37-24, then the Spartans came roaring back with falls in back-to-back matches to make it 37-36 with one bout left.
Mike Crebbin saw the 285-pound match as a toss-up heading into the evening, knowing his sophomore could be rusty coming off an injury.
Josh Smith put Constant on his back, but the Wildcat countered with a reversal and put the crowd on its feet as he put Smith's back to the mat at 1:38.
Coach Crebbin said, "I am proud of my team. It was a very entertaining match."
Christian Bertram (106) ignited the win with a fall (:30) in the first match. After Rebecca Holloman (113) and Zaiha Sams (120) lost by pins, Vester picked up his key win.
Cody Fakkema (132) and Jahleel Vester (136) won 9-1 and 9-2, then a pin (4:29) by Jacob Fitzgerald (145) put Oak Harbor ahead 25-18.
Mark Johnston (152) lost by a fall (:52), then Joshua Crebbin countered with his win and Jon Laningham tacked on another fall (2:53), making it 37-24.
Jeremy Alonzo (195) and Terry Joll (220) each fell, setting up Constant's climatic match.
Oak Harbor (2-0, 13-1) goes to the Lynden Tournament Saturday, Jan. 19, then heads to Everett to face the defending Wesco 3A champion Seagulls (1-1, 5-2) at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22.