WALLA WALLA - Richland's wrestling team flexed its muscles in Wa-Hi's small gym Thursday, toppling the Blue Devils 60-15 behind a number of dominant performances from one of the top squads in the Big Nine Conference.
The Bombers (2-0) opened the night with a decisive win by sophomore Cameron Simpson, who scored the victory in just over a minute and a half in the 160-pound weight class to give Richland a 6-0 lead.
In one of the closest matches of the night, Richland's Mitch Lauterbach (171) won a 4-3 decision to push the score to 9-0.
"That is a great team," said Wa-Hi head coach Clayton Hudiburg. "That's the type of team that we want to be in two years. We're young, and we hope to mature into that kind of group."
Richland's roll continued with wins in the second round of the 189-pound class by Tayson Gifford, via decision, and 215-pound division on a pin by Mitchell Atwell.
The bigger Bomber squad kept dominating the event when 285-pounder Brady Simpson finished off Gerald Maib in less than a minute, and a forefit at the 103-pound weight class pushed the spread to 33-0.
However, the mood was about to change. Wa-Hi (0-2) scored its first win of the night when Will Babbit (112) scored a hard-fought pin 1:36 into the third round to cut the deficit to 33-6.
"I think the guys we expected to win, won," Hudiburg said. "We had some guys really exceed expectations, and everyone battled. This is a performance we can be proud of."
Richland got back into the win column at the 119 level with a pin by Aaron Guz at the 1:14 mark, and Kyler Mars also scored a pin in the 125 class.
The gap widened Kody Mars (125) narrowly beat the first round buzzer for another pin, which was followed up by Nick Sargent's pin in 1:37 at the 130-pound level.
The final Bomber pin came at the 135 weight class when Albert Maycumber closed out his match in less than two minutes.
However, senior senior Nason Babbitt (140) won a 6-1 decision, which he capped with a 2-point pin for 6-1 final, pushing the tally to 57-9.
"These are the nights that we need to gain experience," Hudiburg said. "Still, it was nice to see a senior like Nason come through also."
Wa-Hi's Anthony Stadler pushed returning state performer Dustin Utecht to a 10-5 decision before the Wa-Hi highlight of the night in the 152 weight class.
Senior Ryan Evans scored a viscous takedown on Robert Clark before grappling on the mat for nearly a minute to score a pin with 23 seconds left in the first round to make the final score 60-15.
"Wrestling from the standing position is my strongest position," Evans said. "I just picked him up and put him down, and that's probably about the longest I have ever had to fight with someone to get a pin, but it was great to be out there with such a great competitor."
While the night didn't end in a victory, Hudiburg saw a lot of potential from his team.
"Obviously, you always want to be on the winning side, but that was a really strong opponent, and we showed progress," he said. "This is a night that we can use to go forward."