DEMING - Coach Ron Lepper has said if Mount Baker is to be successful this year, it will have to rally around its tradition of being a perennial wrestling power.
A lot of new names showed up in the Mountaineers' wrestling lineup. Losing seven varsity starters to graduation will do that.
Even with the losses, the result was par for what Deming folk have grown to expect from Lepper's bunch.
"Since we lost so many seniors last year, we still have high expectations and lot of shoes to fill," Junior Shelby Miles said. "We got to step up and fill those shoes."
The Mountaineers did Wednesday night, Dec. 12, in a 64-22 Northwest Conference win against Bellingham in Mount Baker.
Hunter Schenk (132 pounds), Joey Walton (138), Alex Ray (170), Tyrel Cronk (195) and Jake Larsen (285) earned pins, and Miles won by decision. Mount Baker's Jeremiah Cronk, Zach Larson, Nick Larson and Sterling Honeycutt won by forfeit.
"Bellingham is young like us," Lepper said. "They had some guys missing, so we were able to take advantage of that. We just want to come out and get better each week. A match like tonight, even though we might not have won some matches, there's some things we can take and get better on, but it's always nice to get a W, especially at home in front of our good fan base."
Miles (120), one of Lepper's wrestlers who's relatively new to varsity action, scored arguably the biggest upset of the night. He beat Bellingham returning state wrestler Riley Takemura in a 14-6 major decision to close the scoring gap after Bellingham took an early 12-6 lead with a pair of forfeits.
Miles was just glad to be back on the mat after missing all of last year. He lacerated his spleen and damaged his ribs after crashing a dirt bike in October 2011.
"There's no other sport I like better," said Miles of wrestling. "It feels great to be back."
Miles wrestled a few matches on varsity his freshman year and was looking forward to the challenged Takemura presented.
"I knew he would be here, and I knew he would be a tough match," Miles said. "He went to state last year, and I missed all last year. I was getting gassed at the end, but in the end, it came out as a win."
Miles built 14-2 lead in the second period. He scored two three-point near falls late in the middle period, but was unable to close his match out. Takemura picked up four points in the final period, but the deficit was too large to come back.
"Shelby Miles was a big win for us," Lepper said. "He concerned me a little bit, because he had a chance to put it away, but he didn't do that. Shelby's match was probably one they counted on, because Takemura went to state last year. (Miles) missed almost all of last year, so to come back and get a W like that is a pretty good job."
Schenk and Ray were two others Lepper was thrilled to see earn impressive wins.
Ray pinned Bellingham's David Burnham 1 minute, 7 seconds into the first period, and Schenk pinned Austin Bavaro in 3:36.
While the Mountaineers may not have the experience they've had in the past, Lepper is trying to get his team to embrace Mount Baker's style of wrestling.
"We got some holes," he said. "We can't cover all the weights. We got some new guys in the lineup, so we got some work to do. That is the bottom line. In those middle weights, (Alex) Tyska and (Travis) Lindsey, they are all juniors. They aren't young per se, but they don't have a lot of varsity experience. Those are guys we got to get going and have to rely on. We want our guys to be able to wrestle Mount Baker style."
Bellingham's Patrick Anderson (152) and Blair Bennet (160) picked up wins for the Red Raiders. Dewald Oliver (106) won by forfeit. Anderson scored a 15-4 major decision over Tyska, and Bennet pinned Lindsey with 28 seconds left in the third period.
"Our big goal is to work our moves, and I think those guys were somewhat working their moves," Bellingham coach Tom Hinz said of his winning duo. "I don't think those guys were as technical as we would have liked them to be, but at least they were working their moves. Our goal is to do the things we want to do, and I have confidence that those guys can do that."
The Red Raiders are fighting to get wrestlers at the right weight, and Hinz said he expects to be much more competitive in a month or so.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
MOUNT BAKER 64, BELLINGHAM 22
106: Dewald Oliver (Bell) forfeit. 113: double forfeit. 120: Shelby Miles (MB) dec. Riley Takemura (Bell) 14-6. 126: Jeremiah Cronk (MB) forfeit. 132: Hunter Schenk (MB) pin Austin Bavaro (Bell) 3:36. 138: Joey Walton (MB) pin Scott Tang (Bell) 2:32. 145: Zach Larson (MB) forfeit. 152: Patrick Anderson (Bell) dec. Alex Tyska (MB) 15-4. 160: Blair Bennet (Bell) pin Travis Lindsey (MB) 5:32. 170: Alex Ray (MB) pin David Burnham (Bell) 1:07. 182: Nick Larson (MB) forfeit. 195: Tyrel Cronk (MB) pin Spencer Marshall (Bell) :39. 220: Sterling Honeycutt (MB) forfeit. 285: Jake Larsen (MB) pin Dylan Hanson (Bell) 5:21.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.