Bruins escape from Cats' grasp

Oak Harbor’s Micah Pruss looks to escape from Cascade’s Adam Garcia in their 130-pound contest. After trailing Garcia for most of the match, Pruss was able to pin Garcia with five seconds left. Said Pruss after the match, “I decided I had to step it up. I had to forget about the last two rounds and pull out a pin to help the team.” - Ken George
Oak Harbor’s Micah Pruss looks to escape from Cascade’s Adam Garcia in their 130-pound contest. After trailing Garcia for most of the match, Pruss was able to pin Garcia with five seconds left. Said Pruss after the match, “I decided I had to step it up. I had to forget about the last two rounds and pull out a pin to help the team.”
— image credit: Ken George

After two easy non-conference victories the Oak Harbor wrestling team finally ran into some tough competition on Thursday night.

The Wildcats dropped their first meet of the season, a hard-fought 38-24 decision to the Cascade Bruins. Last season the two teams tied for the WesCo North Division title.

“The meet had a little bit of everything, there were some awesome matches,” said head coach Brian Farmer. “They are a good team to determine what we have to work on.”

The meet was highlighted by an intense atmosphere, a packed Oak Harbor High gym and several thrilling matches that went right down to the wire. Cascade brought in five wrestlers who took part in the state tournament last year, but the Wildcats almost pulled out the victory.

“That was really exciting, too bad it didn’t go our way,” said assistant coach Steve Whiteman. “I don’t want to take anything away from Cascade because they are a great team, but I think it will be different next time.”

Cascade jumped out of the start early by picking up three pins and four wins in the first five matches. The lone Wildcat victory during the stretch came when sophomore Blake Ward came through with a 5-3 overtime victory over Cascade’s Adam Prokosch in the 189-pound weight class. Farmer was pleased that Ward was able to pull out the win.

“Blake had been struggling a little bit lately, but we’ve been working in the mat room and it was great for him to get the win,” he said.

A difference-maker was the absence of 215 pound wrestler Chris Whiteman who was knocked out with pneumonia and couldn’t wrestle.

“Missing Chris hurt a lot,” said Farmer. “They won eight matches and we won six, it could have gone either way.”

After starting the evening at the 160-pound weight class, the meet moved to the lightweight classes and the Wildcats began to make their move.

With the team down 22-3,103-pounder Rory Magana earned a 9-2 decision over his opponent and the Cats began to pick up some victories.

Senior Kevin Lang recorded the Wildcats’ first pin of the night in the next match, sticking the Bruins’ Gabriel Griffith with 55 seconds remaining in the third period.

“Kevin wrestled a great match, he was outstanding,” said Whiteman about Lang’s effort.

The Cats recorded their third straight victory of the meet when senior Jon Garcia recorded a hard-fought 13-6 decision over the Bruins’ Jose Ayala in the 119-pound weight class.

After a Cascade victory in the 125-pound weight class, the excitement and intensity was bumped up another notch with three straight outstanding matches.

In the 130-pound class, senior Micah Pruss pulled out a come-from-behind victory in the third period. Pruss trailed Cascade’s Roger Garcia 8-4 entering the third period.

“That match was really unexplainable,” Pruss said about the start of his match. “I wasn’t wrestling my best at the beginning of the match. I don’t know if it was because it was Cascade or what, but I didn’t have my head on straight at the start.”

Pruss came storming back in the third. He was able to put Garcia, who went to 4A state last season, on his back halfway through the period. The Cascade wrestler didn’t go quickly and much to the crowd’s delight Pruss was able to earn the pin with just five ticks on the clock left.

“My arms were tired. I was just thinking that I had to get his shoulder blades down,” said Pruss. “He knew he was beat, but I wanted to get the pin with all my strength. I knew six points was better than three.”

“Micah really came back,” Whiteman said. “That would have been a tough match for anyone to come back and he did it.”

Wildcat sophomore Tony Nicolas pulled out a narrow 2-1 victory in the next contest. Nicolas led 2-0 after the second period and had to hold off a furious comeback by Cascade’s Isaiah Schaff. As the match neared the end, Schaff was close to earning a takedown but the referee didn’t award one -- much to the dismay of the Bruins’ bench. Nicolas’ victory pulled the Cats within four points to 28-24.

Senior Ezrael Comicho was up next against Cascade’s Rory Douglas in the 140-pound division. Comicho got on the board first with a takedown to gain a 2-0 first-round lead. Douglas fought back and led 3-2 going into the final round. After a hard-fought final period, Comicho tied the match with an escape right at the buzzer sending it to sudden-death overtime. In overtime, Comicho narrowly missed scoring a takedown and the win before his Bruin opponent got his own takedown and a 5-3 victory.

Cascade was able to pick up victories in the final two matches of the evening resulting in the 38-24 victory for the Bruins. Whiteman for one was already looking forward to facing the Bruins again later in the season.

“Conditioning played a factor this early in the season,” he said. “We’ll do much better when we see these guys again, and we will see them again at districts.”

Next up for the Wildcat grapplers is the Lake Washington Tournament this Saturday. Next Thursday they go on the road to face conference opponent Arlington in a dual meet.

Cascade 38, Oak Harbor 24

At Oak Harbor High School

103-Magana (OH) dec. Wheeler, 9-2; 112-Lang (OH) pinned Griffin, 5:05; 119-Garcia (OH) dec. Ayala, 13-6; 125-Kubec (Cascade) pinned Lemme, 3:06; 130-Pruss (OH) pinned Garcia, 5:55; 135-Nicolas (OH) dec. Schaff, 2-1;

140-Douglas (Cascade) dec. Comicho, 5-3 (OT); 145-Larson (Cascade) dec. Taflinger, 13-3; 152-Hughes (Cascade) dec. Thompson, 8-3; 160-McDonnell (Cascade) pinned Popp, 1:37; 171-Erickson (Cascade) dec. O'Brien, 9-2; 189-Ward (OH) dec. Prokosh, 5-3 (OT); 215-Schmidt (Cascade) pinned Davis, 1:35; 275-Calderon (Cascade) pinned Hogan, :25. Records-Oak Harbor 0-1 in league, 2-1 overall, Cascade 1-0, 1-1.

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