By Jeremy McDonald
INDEPENDENCE, Ore.– Joey’s been patient, Joey’s been tough and now, Joey’s on a mission.
Coming off a shoulder surgery to fix a separated shoulder, requiring four separate insertions to fix the issue and sidelining the now-senior for two years, Central’s Joey Pearson is on a mission to finish his prep career on a high note.And he’s making the most of the opportunity. Following a loss in his second match after returning, Pearson has won every match since, including Wednesday night’s 195-pound match with Lebanon’s Pablo Gonzales-Solis. Currently sits 15-1 on the season with Districts coming in two weeks.
Maybe it’s the mullet. Maybe it’s determination and being refreshed in the sport he’s participated in since he was four. One thing is for sure, he feels good to be back on the mat.
“It feels good. It feels good,” Pearson starts. “I’ve been worrying about it for a long time, came back this year and still have some doubts about it, but it’s been feeling good. It feels good to come back to wrestle for my team again.”
Wrestling up at 195, up from his usual 182 bracket where he’s ranked sixth, it took Pearson a while to come alive against Gonzales-Solis. The first two periods were scoreless at 0-0. Both grapplers had opportunities, but couldn’t finish for points on the board.That was until the third round where Pearson pulled away in the 8-0 win. Escape to start the final period, takedown soon after and a two-point near-fall as he rolled towards another victory on his resume. Testing the endurance of the athlete, who’s been floating between the 182 and 195-pound weight classes this season.
“Most of my matches have ended in the first round. I’ve been working hard in conditioning, it’s just getting into the match and going through the entire three rounds. It’s hard, I’m not used to it, but it feels good knowing that I can do it and conserve energy and work through everything. It’s hard, but I know I can do it,” Pearson said. “Just got to keep doing what I’ve been doing. Working my ass off in practice and not letting anything get in my way. Working harder with my conditioning will be a good step.”
It was a good way to close out senior night for Pearson, who got to share it with Adrian Martinez, Liam Sievers, Anthony Manzo, and Mo Vela in front of the home crowd. It wasn’t the result they’d like, falling to the Warriors 45-30 in the team score, but it was still an enjoyable night.
For Vela, coming off a week off, he was open in that he didn’t want to lose on this night. Edging out his Lebanon opposition 7-6 in the 170 pound match.as Vela looks to get back on track with the District meet on the horizon.
“Practice. Practice and extra practice,” Vela said. “Like sprinting after practice. That’s what I’ll probably do in the next two weeks.”
Vela, Pearson each represented the wins on Senior Night. Issa Branske (106), Ethan Dunnigan (152) and Jose Lugo (182) also brought home victories for the Panthers against the Warriors as Central travels to wrestle North Salem Thursday night in Salem.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald