MILTON-FREEWATER — Trailing by 24-0 and 30-10 in a dual wrestling meet versus Ontario, the Mac-Hi grapplers came roaring back here Thursday night to win 38-34.
The matchup was the Greater Oregon League dual-meet opener for Mac-Hi and a great way to start the season.
"It was a good way to start the season," Mac-Hi coach Beau Chester said. "We lost a couple of quick matches on pins early, got way behind and fought back."
The Pioneers opened the match on four consecutive pins by the Tigers to fall behind, 24-0.
"We knew that they had a couple of tough wrestlers at 135 pounds and 140 pounds," Chester said. "So to get behind at the start wasn’t that surprising."
The match started at the 135-pound competitors, went up to heavyweight, and then back down to 103 pounds. It then went back up to the 130-pound class.
"I really didn’t think that at least two of our guys early on should have been pinned," Mac-Hi wrestler Ryan Bullock said. "I think we should have won by more than we did. We beat Ontario by more last season."
The Pioneers battled back from 24-0 to make it 24-10 on match wins by Josh Rutherford and Brandon Kralman. Rutherford pinned his competitor, and Kralman got the major decision.
Another pin by Ontario made it 30-10, and Mac-Hi went on a big scoring runPablo Grimaldi (215 pounds) kicked off the run, giving up about 20 pounds to his competitor.
"Pablo had to eat four pounds of food right before the match," Chester said. "That was to weigh-in at the minimum of 189 pounds, to wrestle at 215."
Grimaldi won the regular decision, 8-2, and earned three team points.
Another match followed the 215 pound contest, in the heavyweight division. Ontario’s Sam Villabbos led 1-0 after two rounds and Mac-Hi’s Angel Palacios got an escape for one point early in the third round.
With about 17 seconds remaining, Villabbos moved to shoot on Palacios low and missed grabbing his knees. Palacios turned the miss into at two-point takedown just before the buzzer sounded in the third round.
Palacios earned the regular decision to make it 30-16.
A forfeit by Ontario at 103 pounds made it 30-22.
Ontario scored a regular decision and upped the lead to 34-22, with three matches remaining.
The Pioneer’s Jesse Sargent set the tone for the final two matches with an 11-1 decision, which earned the major victory for four team points.
Mac-Hi’s Bullock pinned his challenger next to trim the lead to 34-32, headed into the final match.
"This match was the best performance for my team this season," Bullock said.
In the final match of the evening, Patrick Sheets got up 4-2 on a takedown and reversal in the first round,
In the second round, Sheets pinned his challenger to earn six points and give Mac-Hi the victory.
"This match means more to me than any other match that I’ve wrestled in my life," Sheets said. "I had never wrestled my challenger before, an upcoming freshman (Roberto Noah), and all I heard about him was how good he was. So I was anxious to get out there, wrestle and beat him."
The win makes Mac-Hi 1-0 in the GOL. The Pioneers travel to La Grande Tuesday.
Mac-Hi won the district tournament last season, and finished second at state.
"Our goals this year are to win districts and finish in the top five at state," Bullock said.
103 — Chandler Fortune, Mac-Hi, won by forfeit. 112 — Eric Nunez, Ontario, dec Jordan Leinbach, Mac-Hi 14-6. 119 — Jesse Sargent, Mac-Hi, dec Kole Nakamurk, Ontario 11-1. 125 — Ryan Bullock, Mac-Hi, pinned Ray Rodrigues, Ontario, 3:40. 130 — Patrick Sheets, Mac-Hi, pinned Roberto Noah, Ontario, 2:10. 135 — Nico Martinez, Ontario, pinned Brayden Moller, Mac-Hi 2:57. 140 – Chase Pnez, Ontario, pinned Joey Paez, Mac-Hi 2:40. 145 — RJ Gonzales, Ontario, pinned Wyatt Law, Mac-Hi 5:39. 152 — Chaz Nakamum, Ontario, pinned Taylor Hodgen, Mac-Hi, 1:20. 160 — Josh Rutherford, Ontario, pinned Matt Anthony, Mac-Hi, 1:20. 171 — Brandon Kralman, Mac-Hi, dec Jose Reyes, Ontario 13-4. 189 — Christian Sanchez, Ontario, pinned Lawrence Timmons, Mac-Hi 1:58. 215 — Pablo Grimaldi, Mac-Hi, dec Onbriel Gonzales 8-2. 275/Hwt — Angel Palacios, Mac-Hi, dec Sam Villabbos, Ontario, 3-1.