The Wenatchee wrestling team wasn’t at full strength in Thursday’s season debut dual, but got a big lift from back-to-back pins from a few of its top grapplers, and a number of gutsy performances.
Despite missing a handful of varsity talent, the Panthers were able to lock up a 39-28 over the Davis Pirates.
Zack Paro (182 pounds) started the surge with a shamelessly aggressive attack.
The senior locked David Perez of Davis’ right leg, easily scored a takedown and ended the match with a pin 26 seconds into the first period.
“I saw the fear in his eyes,” Paro said afterward, adding that he was very confident going into the night.
Michel St. Clair (195) followed Paro’s hasty finish in similar fashion. The senior dropped Davis’ Jecsan Perez about 10 seconds into the match and secured the pin with 1:34 left in the first period.
“Mike’s got a lot of strength and a lot of power,” coach Ed Valdez said. “He ended with a knee injury last year and it’s nice to see him at full strength. He’s not quite where we want him to be right now, but we’ll get him there.”
The consecutive pins gave the Panthers a 12-4 lead three matches into the meet. Veteran grapplers Kevin Lesmeister (220) and Ryan Osterlund (285) added to the lead with a couple of wins by decision and Drake Lewis (106) pinned Davis’ Aimee Silva to put the team ahead 24-4.
The Pirates made it a match again, though, with back-to-back pins in the 113 and 120 pound slots, respectively.
Fortunately for the Panthers, Alberto Montes DeOca (126) managed to score a takedown with less than five seconds left in regulation to eek out a 7-5 win by decision.
But it was Kris Garrett (138) who put the meet away. The junior recorded a pin with 29.4 seconds left in the first period, giving Wenatchee a 33-19 lead and plenty of breathing room.
“That was a tough kid he pinned tonight,” Valdez said, crediting Garrett for putting the meet away.
The Panthers looked strong in some spots, but questionable in others, but they should become more of a force once they return to full strength.
Isaiah Van Weerdhuizen (220) is expected to drop into the 195-pound slot, and Paro and St. Clair will drop down a weight class as well.
Additionally, Abel Charco (152) didn’t wrestle Thursday, but should be back in the varsity lineup as early as this weekend.
“It’ll make us a lot stronger,” Paro said. “We have a couple gaps right now.”
Still, Valdez saw plenty of flaws to start polishing.
“It was a flat match for us, but we did enough good things, so we won,” he said. “We have a lot to work on and our conditioning’s not where it should be, but we’ll have a lot of matches this weekend.”