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Spanish Springs wrestlers capture Northern 4A crown
by Aaron Retherford
Feb 07, 2009 | 1022 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Cougars 215-pounder Erwin Soto works for a semifinal pin against Damonte Ranch’s Cody Killgore.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Cougars 215-pounder Erwin Soto works for a semifinal pin against Damonte Ranch’s Cody Killgore.
With less than 20 points separating first-place Spanish Springs and second-place McQueen heading into the championship finals, little 103-pound freshman Curtis Lampert played a giant role for the Purple and Teal.

Lampert faced off against Lancers grappler Joseph DeLeon in the first championship match of the night. With his first-period pin, Lampert set the tone for the Cougars and helped clinch the school's first Northern 4A wrestling title Saturday.

“For being a freshman, Curtis has really stepped into some big shoes in terms of being the kid that everyone looks up to when they come to Spanish Springs,” SSHS coach Joe Imelli said. “He had great credentials coming in and now he has another credential on top of that. When you start off like that, it makes it a lot easier to follow. I'm real proud of that kid.”

One minute and five seconds into the first round, Lampert pushed DeLeon's shoulders to the mat to claim the first of three Cougar individual titles.

Junior Todd Pearson took the mat next and pinned Carson's Colin Merkley in just 50 seconds to become a two-time regional champ — a year after missing out on a state berth due to illness. Pearson was actually sick again this week, but avoided a case of déjà vu.

“It was so nerve wracking. I just wanted to do my best,” Lampert said. “It's different going as a team. You want to win of course, but you want your team to do well, too. It's such a relief. I wanted him (Pearson) to pin that guy so bad.”

At 171 pounds, Spanish Springs’ Chris White escaped with an 8-6 decision over Damonte's Franklyn Christian, causing the home crowd to erupt once more.

Spanish Springs had a chance for four weight class champions, but Erwin Soto ran out of gas and was pinned by McQueen's Darin Gooch at 215 pounds with 19 seconds left in the match.

But it was the Cougars who didn't make it to the championship finals that helped put the team over the top. Of the seven wrestlers who could have qualified for state heading into the second half of Saturday's action, six earned a state berth, including third-place finishers Jes Sylvester (130) and Clay Coleman (189).

Coleman had to wrestle up a weight class and lost his second bout of the tournament to eventual runner-up Bishop Manogue's Evan Miller. Coleman then won four straight matches to take the bronze.

“I'm just so pleased from top to bottom the way all the kids came through,” Imelli said.

Galena claimed the most individual crowns with four, but the Grizzlies only placed two others in fourth, which left them in third place with 128 points. McQueen finished the night 23 points behind Spanish Springs' 172.5 points.

However, the Cougars weren't the only local squad to fare well at the two-day tournament. Reed earned 108 points — good enough for fifth place and the school's best finish in coach Ric Fehr's tenure.

“I feel great. I think this is the best performance we've had at regionals in eight years,” Fehr said.

Reed senior Brandon Gebhardt entered the event as the clear favorite at 189 pounds despite not earning a No. 1 seed and a first-round bye due to missing one league dual. But like last year when he won his first regional title, the defending regional and state champ ended each of his four matches with a pin.

However, it was slightly more difficult this time around. Gebhardt faced Manogue's Miller for the title and the Raider could not find any openings against Miller He trailed going into the final period.

It didn't matter though. Gebhardt started the third period on the mat and with one quick push backwards, Gebhardt was suddenly on top of Miller. He then spun around and pinned the Miner just 21 seconds into the period.

Reed sophomore Reece Dassinger had to settle for a second-place finish after dropping a 10-1 major decision to Galena's Doug Del Porto. Dassinger was lucky to make it through the match after five blood timeouts due to a bloody nose that the training staff had to wrap tape around mummy style.

The Blue and Gold turned in some gutsy performances in order to qualify four wrestlers for state.

One of them was by 140-pounder Mitchell Payne, who came from behind to place third and make his second straight trip to state.

“I was tired going into that third round when I was down, but I had to keep pushing to get through,” Payne said. “One more week. I would have been really disappointed in myself (if I lost) because I know I've worked hard all four years, and to end it now, would have been too soon.”

The Reed senior trailed 6-2 in the second period and was still down 6-3 when the final two minutes started.

A reversal 30 seconds into the third period cut the deficit to 6-5, and Payne grabbed an 8-6 edge only to be called for stalling right after. The refs awarded one point to Charlie Heck of Fallon, temporarily stalling Payne's momentum.

Heck earned a reversal and two points to take a 9-8 lead. But in the final 30 seconds, Payne picked up a reversal and near fall to hold off Heck's final reversal to earn the 12-11 triumph.

Heavyweight Matt Roberto will be making his first appearance at the state tournament after battling back to take third.

Like two grizzly bears figuring out if they want to fight each other, Roberto and his consolation final opponent, Galena's Jeremy Byrnes, felt each other out to a 0-0 deadlock after one period.

The score remained the same after the second two minutes, but with 16 seconds left in the match, Roberto maneuvered Byrnes onto his back and recorded the pin.

•In the 3A, Sparks failed to earn any regional crowns.

John Stralla (119), Jacob Miller (130) and Ian Butler (275) all fell in their respective title matches.

Rounding out the Railroaders' placers were Trevor Cody (160) in fourth, Anthony Arroyo (171) and Alexander Stubbs (215) in fifth and Ramon Covarrubias (135) in sixth.

As a team, Sparks placed fifth out of seven teams overall, while Lowry was the top performer.
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