By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– With how many ranked wrestlers were wrestling Wednesday night between North Salem and Sprague, the 152-pound bout between the Vikings Nahaven Rose (17th-ranked) and Sullivan Puckett (19th-ranked) pinned two of the State’s Top 20 wrestlers in the Central Valley Conference league bout at North Salem High School.
And within 35 seconds of the match, Sullivan jumped out to a 4-2 lead on Rose and led 6-2 after one off a technical penalty and a Sullivan escape.
For Puckett, coming off a 6A State Tournament appearance in 2022 as a freshman, the match was a good test of perseverance for the underclassmen grappler as Rose shut him down in the second period in hopes for a State appearance once more at the end of the season. That perseverance was especially big in that third round as Rose mounted a rally with a reversal down 8-2 to make it 8-4 and nearly completed another reversal that would have made it 8-6, but instead helped assisted Puckett with a two-point reversal moments later to keep the match just out of reach of Rose going to the finish line for the 10-4 decision.
“That third round I was tired, I just had to persevere and kept fighting to get the ‘W’. It’s going to help a ton because that third round is what wins matches. If you got the conditioning and mental mindset for that, you’re going to win every match. I could’ve done better, but I’m happy with the win,” Puckett said.
Rose admits that this match was one of the hardest matches he’s partaken in this season, admitting that he can improve as the District meet looms ahead.
“That was a really intense (match), just wrestle better really,” said Rose.
Sprague would go on to take the dual 51-21, but early on North Salem had themselves an 21-18 lead following RJ Chacon’s first-round pin victory at 132 pounds. With the dual starting at 220 pounds, North Salem’s Imyas Aguilar and the Olys Devin Wardell had one of those long, drag-out battles that saw Aguilar take the victory 2-0 following a third-period takedown thirty seconds into the final frame to start the dual with some fun.
Sprague’s Cole Steketee continued to roll with a first-round pin at 285 and back-to-back forfeit victories at 106 and 113 and a Viks forfeit win at 120 had the Olympians ahead 18-9 on North Salem. Andres Alvarez (126) and Chacon picked up pins to push the Vikings ahead before Sprague regained the lead with Andrey Cernev’s pin at 132. Seth Carp got a forfeit victory at 145, Puckett’s victory at 152 pushed the lead further as Josh Camillo (160), Carson Hunsaker (170) and Kenya Johnson (182) each picked up victories. Both teams picked up double forfeits at 195 to close out the dual. Sprague’s off until January 28 when they head to West Albany High School to take part in the Tod Surmon Mid-Valley Classic while North Salem are at 3A Jefferson Friday for the Jefferson Duals with the Lions and Stayton.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald