With only one match to wrestle Saturday, Zach Oster still made a big splash in the Washougal River Rumble.
The sophomore from Washougal High School hooked Fort Vancouver’s Isaiah Johnson like a fish out of water and reeled in the 113-pound championship medal. Oster caught Johnson off guard with a single leg takedown and had him trapped. He rolled Johnson over onto his back and pinned his shoulders to the mat.
“He was trying to do too much with his hands and wasn’t paying attention to his legs,” Oster said. “I saw my opportunity and didn’t let go.”
Although he would have loved to wrestle more matches, Oster kept his game face on as he paced through the halls in anticipation for his championship match. As easy as his road was to the finals, it would have been just as easy to lose focus. But this was Oster’s opportunity to show what Washougal wrestling was all about and he wanted to get his hand raised.
“I had to win that one or all this waiting around would have been for nothing,” he said. “It was a long day. I had to wake up early, weigh in and then wait around for the rest of the day until I wrestled. In the end, it was worth it.”
Antonio Maniscalco, Josh Economides and Jacob Brown also reached the championship round for the Panthers. Each of them finished in second place. Taylor Leifsen, Jesse Reagan, Roger Polanco, Tanner Baldwin and Andrew Bedjan all took third place.
“It felt pretty good to represent the town like that,” Economides said. “All the yelling and cheering for you helps.”
Economides said his favorite part of the Washougal tournament was pinning Aaron Bork of Battle Ground in the semifinals. He dedicated the victory to his parents, Josh and Kelly.
“He was quite a bit stronger than me, but I just got a head and arm and waited for the opportune moment,” Economides said. “My parents were sitting right on the mat when I pinned him. That really fired me up.”
Even though senior captains Stephen Camden and Wyatt Eakins were unable to wrestle Saturday, Washougal still finished in third place with 139 points. Mark Morris won the 10-team event with 164 points, followed by Black Hills with 151 points. Stevenson earned fourth place with 115 points.
“Despite having such a young team, we keep showing our growth,” said head coach John Carver. “I appreciate the way our athletes get behind their teammates on the mat. When you have a solid team, it gives you the opportunity to wrestle for something pretty special at the end of the season when people see the team as more important than themselves.”
The Washougal River Rumble has become a day to celebrate the Panther wrestling tradition. Carver thanked the athletes, parents, staff members and volunteers who helped this event run smoothly for the 24th year in a row.
“What makes this tournament such a special event is that we have a community that enjoys watching us wrestle every time we are at home,” he said. “It’s just great to see the kids and parents of the past and present working together to make this day special for the ones who are wrestling.”