A wrestler without previous varsity experience gave Rogers the momentum it needed to beat rival Puyallup in a dual meet last week.
It appeared Puyallup was on the verge of tying the match 24-24 midway through the match as 113-pounder Chris Sprague had Rogers wrestler Jose Cruz on his back. Sprague registered three near-fall points before Cruz scored a reversal, and the Rams grappler scored a pin.
Cruz’s victory gave the Rams a commanding 30-18 lead, and Rogers (1-3 overall) cruised to a 48-30 win Thursday night at the Paul Stilnovich Pavilion at Rogers High School.
Rams head coach David Johnston said it was the first time Cruz wrestled with the varsity in a dual match during his high school career.
“That was definitely a pivotal part of the match,” Johnston said. “What a turnaround. ... He is a senior, and he works so hard. It was nice to see him do that for our team.”
Cruz was ecstatic to give his team needed six points and breathing room at that juncture of the match.
“I was happy to do that for my team,” he said. “We needed to win this match. We didn’t have a good preseason. We thought we could start to get on track with a win tonight, and we did just that.”
Vikings head coach Aaron Lee said his team’s confidence suffered after Cruz’s dramatic come-from-behind triumph. The Vikings dropped to 0-1 in duals.
“Intensity and momentum sometimes means a lot more than what you have in strength and knowledge,” Lee said. “Confidence is everything. It kind of took the wind out of our sails. We didn’t get that confidence back.”
Lee said the Rams were ready, and the Vikings weren’t.
“They kicked us in the face, and we didn’t respond,” he said.
Johnston said the Rams won’t savor their victory against their biggest rival for long.
“It’s definitely a great win, not only because it’s Puyallup, but because it is our first South Puget Sound League dual match of the season,” he said. “It feels good, at least for right now, but we will get back to work tomorrow.”
Winning Rogers wrestlers were Ruben Hernandez (forfeit), Beau Shatto (decision), Daniel Wernofsky (pin), Greg Wernofsky (decision), Damian Jackson (pin), Brandon Brenenstahl (pin), Blake Henderson (pin) Brandon Bishop (pin) and Cruz (pin).
Puyallup winners were Nick Maul (pin), Justin Janker (pin), Joey Meyer (pin), Matt Voss (pin) and Jacob Meldrum (injury default).