By Jeremy McDonald
OREGON CITY, Ore.- Even though there was no class Wednesday because of Veterans Day, the Clackamas Community College Wrestling was hard at work in their newly redone mat room, preparing for their big tournament in Redding.
In the first year of the California Challenge Dual; Clackamas will join Southwestern Oregon College, Highline College of Washington and NAIA-wrestling powerhouse Southern Oregon University as they travel south to meet Simpson University of the NAIA, Fresno City College, Cerritos College and Sacramento City College in a four-team duel tournament.
“It’s big, it’s the first time they’re trying to do it,” said Cougars Head Coach Josh Rhoden. “It’s going to be fun, we’re going to have four duels against all of those teams, see how they match up early in the season against some big competition.
How the tournament works is that all the California schools will wrestle versus the Oregon/Washington schools and vice versa.
So Sac City won’t wrestle Fresno City, Cerritos and Simpson nor Clackamas will wrestle Southwestern, Highline or Southern Oregon, but someone like Sacramento City will wrestle the Oregon/Washington schools and schools like Clackamas will face the California schools if that makes sense.
A big difference is that as wrestling season is heating up in Oregon; down in the California junior college division, the California Community College System, is just finishing up their wrestling season.
But challenges of facing that talent is exciting to some of the Clackamas wrestlers as they take on the talent that California has to offer on a relatively easy week.
“I’m glad we’re going to go down to California getting some different competition so that’s going to be exciting,” said Sophomore 157-Pounder Brandon Davidson.
“Coach has gummed it down a little bit this week, (to) make sure guys are healthy and resting up. Leading up to this week it’s been hard, the first couple of months are always hard. But it’s all about resting up so we can get ready for this duel on Saturday.”
For Rhoden, he knows that some kids on his roster are from the Golden State and knows the importance for his athletes wrestling down there.
“It’s exciting, we go down there and recruit some kids from down there, so it’s good for some of our kids to go back down to the area and be closer to home so that their folks can come and see them.”
As they turn their focus on improving on techniques like hand-fighting, bottom rolls and improving on the like and healing up after the first action of the year; the expectation to win every time they step on the mat is still there.
“I think every time we go somewhere it’s to win,” said Rhoden. “It’s just that time of the year where we’ve been pushing real hard, we finally hit that first weekend and there’s some bumps and bruises we’re dealing with right now.
“It’s still so early for us that really we just want to get better this weekend but every time we get on the mat, our job and our goal is to go out there and win.”
Clackamas leaves for Redding Friday morning, will have a workout in Ashland before wrestling in Redding Saturday.
PHOTO GALLERY BY JEREMY MCDONALD
Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013). Got a story idea? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81!
Like us on Facebook at Jmcdonaldmedia!