By Jeremy McDonald
OREGON CITY, Ore.–Schools from all over the place came to Oregon City Sunday afternoon for the Clackamas Open.
Schools like Oregon State University, Simon Fraizer of Canada and Central Washington University to name a few converged to the five mats laid out in the basketball gym for some great competition; something that Cougars Head Coach Josh Rhoden said that is useful come the Regional and National Tournaments.
“It’s good for us to get our hands on these kinds of guys so we can get these opportunities that you don’t get in practice,” Rhoden said. “I mean you see each other in the mat room enough, you get to know each other’s tendencies.
“We need to see some guys wrestle different from us and give us a look that we may see at the Nationals or at Regional’s. “
The Clackamas Open also allows wrestlers, like back-up 125-pounder Aaron Drake of Clackamas, an opportunity to wrestle in some live action.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Drake following his first match. “I’ve been grinding all year towards this moment, so it’s time to show.”
“It’s pretty tough not to go out there and go crazy. You just got to keep yourself composed and wrestle fluently and keep your head in the game and not loose it.”
For teammate Tommy Brewster; following his in his double overtime match in the opening round, had a easier road to the third round with his win over Southern Oregon University’s Joshua Marshall.
“I started off pretty slow in the first match, (I) only bet the kid in double overtime,” said Brewester on his day through two rounds. “First match coming off slow, but I felt quicker in my second match so I hope it keeps going throughout the tournament now.”
Brewster would lose a tough semi-final match in the 174 bracket to Tyler Noon of Highline Community College as Noon went on to win the bracket a match later.
From almost getting pinned to a 17-9 major victory over Ryder Shinkle of Bosie State, Haszell “Bam” West described his second round rally as never giving up no matter the score.
“Like our coach always says, ‘Stick with it’. No matter what you have to keep wrestling,” said West. “Just one thing at a time, just have to worry about getting off your back. Once you get off you’re back, just keep wrestling.”
West found himself in the 184 finals a match victory later, one of four Cougar wrestlers to make it to the finals. He describes it as protecting ‘the house’.
“It’s just protecting the house, home field basically,” said West. “We trained for this.”
Joining West in the finals was DeVaugh Sapien (125), Zech Bresser (141), and John Leal (157).
Leal was the lone Clackamas Community College wrestler to win their respective bracket as West, Sapien, and Bresser finished second in their respective brackets in the Open.
CLACKAMAS 39, NORTH IDAHO 12- For the first time in recent memory, the Cougars have swept the Cardinals.
Rhoden described the win, and the sweep, as good; but cannot overlook what it meant in the long run as the season is slowly wrapping up.
“It was really good to get that season sweep for whatever reason it eluded us,” Rhoden said. “We either win down here or we win up there and not win the other place. For our fans, and the people who were here for our kids, it was good.
“Those guys are a little bit down and we told our guys too, ‘if we’re down, we’ll be trying to get kicked by these guys, so let’s go kick them while they’re down’. Because we got to make sure we’re ready for the time when it’s time to make sure we got everything together and firing at all cylinders.”
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 email@example.com or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81!