Tiny Craugh puts backbreaker on Tigers
MINDEN - Never mind his physical size. Carson High freshman Owen Craugh, all 4-foot-10 and 85 pounds of him, was the one who applied the backbreaker on Douglas when the Sierra League dual meet wrestling championship was on the line Wednesday night.
Craugh, who was giving away nearly 20 pounds in his 103-pound bout, overcame an early deficit and went on to log a third-round pin that helped the Senators slam the door shut on a 44-24 victory at Douglas in a showdown between teams that were unbeaten in league dual meets.
This marked the third straight year the league title was decided between the arch rivals at the end of the regular season. The Senators and Tigers battled to a 30-30 tie last year and wound up as co-champions.
"Last year was a disappointment, especially since we had beaten them at the Capital City Duals. So, yeah, this was fun. It was exciting," Carson senior 171-pounder Joe Roman said.
Carson trailed 21-6 before Roman won by fall to start a run in which the Senators scored 32 unanswered points. Carson won four of five matches by fall during that stretch, the last coming when Craugh pinned Devin Barker in the third period.
"Owen just has great heart and great tenacity," Carson coach Dean Schmanski said. "He's giving away 20 pounds to these other guys, but he never stops moving when he's on bottom. With Owen, you never know whether he's winning or losing because his wrestling style never changes. He's always going after it, and that's what makes Owen so special."
Craugh scored six points in the second to take a 6-4 lead and then got his pin with 56 seconds left in the match. His win gave Carson a 34-21 lead with three matches remaining. After that, fellow freshman Robbie Bozin took the mat and clinched the victory for Carson by scoring an 18-6 major decision over 112-pound opponent Bryan Kaplan.
"It was OK. I didn't work well on my feet today," said Craugh, who improved his season record to 24-11, with 13 of those wins coming by pin. "Both our teams were undefeated, so I knew it was important."
Douglas coach Mike Gamberg was pleased with the performance of the Tigers, who lost to Carson 67-11 at the Capital City Duals on Dec. 6 in Carson City.
"I think we improved by 150 percent," Gamberg said. "We made a match of it this time, and if we had won some crucial matches, we could have actually won it."
Douglas won four of five matches in the middle weight classes to go up 21-6. Freshman 135-pounder Ryan Pruitt pinned Ahron Osheroff at 4:53 to give Douglas a 6-3 lead. Junior 145-pounder Bradley Johnson scored on an escape with 19 seconds remaining to defeat Micah Whitcome 3-2 and give Douglas a 9-6 lead.
"Bradley Johnson wrestled a very, very tough match," Gamberg said. "He wrestled hard and it paid off because Micah Whitcome is a very, very good wrestler."
Then Gamberg made a switch in his lineup, dropping Louie Gabriel to 152 pounds and moving two-time state tournament qualifier C.J. Keith up to 160s. The move was worth 12 points because Gabriel pinned Jonas Schenzel in 1:31 and Keith pinned Loren Wooldridge in 5:23.
"Coach told me yesterday to be ready to go 152s, but that he might play around with us," said Keith, whose season record is 24-2. "I just told him, 'I'll be there wherever you need me.'"
At that point in the meet, Carson brought up the heart of its batting order with seniors Roman, Chris Ceccarelli at 189 pounds and 215-pounder Nick Shine. Roman pinned Shane Miller in 3:36, Ceccarelli pinned Mark Winter in 57 seconds and Shine pinned Nick Frankwich in 2:44 to put Carson on top by a 24-21 score.
"We were losing so we knew that we had to pick it up," said Roman, who is now 36-6 on the season with 15 pins.
Ceccarelli is now 38-5 with 25 pins and Shine is 40-3 with 26 pins.
Senior 125-pounder Eric Aguilera gave Carson its final win of the night when he pinned Josh Newman in 4:13. Freshman 140-pounder Travis Lamborn came up with a key 4-0 win over Matt Yaquinto, a fourth-year veteran of the Douglas program. Kevin Riggin scored five points in the final period to defeat Douglas freshman Jake Williams 7-1. And heavyweight Jason Klug scored seven first-period points en route to a 13-5 win against Matt Castro.
Douglas picked up a win at 119 pounds when Cameron Ames scored seven early points and then held on for a 7-5 win over Carson freshman Kyle Banko.
Both teams return to the mat Saturday at 9 a.m. when Wooster hosts the Sierra League Tournament in Reno. The top four finishers in each weight class will advance to the Northern 4A Regionals the following Saturday, Feb. 7.
"We won league in duals, but now the important ones begin," Schmanski said. "All these other matches have been for practice. From here on out, these are the ones that count."