The Umpqua Community College men’s wrestling team won their first dual meet at Lassen Community College in the Lassen Invitational Wrestling Tournament in Susanville, California, where they traveled for their season opener.
The RiverHawks were missing wrestlers in their first three weight classes 125, 133, and 141 respectively, including multi-sport athlete Grant Laiblin, who could not participate because he was competing in the cross country NWAC Southern Region Championships.
The RiverHawk men started the 2017-18 season in Susanville wrestling against Eastern Oregon University. Unlike other sports at UCC belonging to the Northwest Athletic Conference, UCC’s wrestling programs participate in the National Junior College Athletic Association.
After forfeiting three weight classes, the RiverHawks were forced to spot all opponents 18 points. Those additional points given to the opponent were difficult to overcome. However, despite the disadvantage, UCC still came home with several decisions.
Wrestling at 149 pounds, freshman Kobe Olson was the first RiverHawk in nearly 40 years to raise his hand in victory. Olson defeated Eastern Oregon’s Kaleb Ballard by a major decision with a score of 9-0.
RiverHawks Ian Thomas and Levi Summers also came home with decisions. Thomas at 165 pounds won 6-1, and Summers at 184 pounds won 8-4. The final team scores totaled 42-10 in favor of Eastern Oregon.
“Every one of the guys that went was in their first college match,” coach Kyle Temple said. “I was pleased with our performances.”
The RiverHawks then received their first dual meet victory in a matchup against Lassen Community College 27-12. Lassen had a similar situation to Umpqua’s with wrestlers out due to injuries and ineligibility.
Lastly, the RiverHawk men wrestled against Simpson University. Simpson also had forfeits in the same weight classes as UCC. The RiverHawks defeated Simpson 27-6. Christian Perez weighing at 174 pounds and 197 pound Josh Hammers both raised their hand and earned their first victories of the season.
“Douglas County has been a historically rich wrestling county,” Temple said. “We’re trying to use that success of Douglas County to draw kids to come enroll to Umpqua, and I think we’re in the prime location to really build something special in RiverHawk wrestling.”