The Hermiston wrestling team closed out the home schedule in style Thursday and handed rival Pendleton a 40-27 beating in the squad’s final dual match of the season.

The Dawgs had wrestled the Bucks before the official league dual, however, beating them in the Oregon Wrestling Classic championship round, 47-20, Jan. 15 in Redmond.

While it was Pendleton that held an early lead with the matches starting at 112 pounds, Hermiston took the lead for good after the 140-pound match, between Hermiston senior Fabian Scotto and Pendleton’s Cammeron Rinehart.

Scotto and Rinehart have a bit of a history together — that has been owned by Scotto lately. Scotto has won his last four matches against Rinehart, the Class 5A No. 1 at 135 pounds, with the last match coming at the Oregon Classic. Scotto won that match 4-0.

The only points of the bout were scored in the first round after Scotto picked Rinehart up and executed a thunderous throw to put his opponent on his back for a takedown.

While no one scored the rest of the way, it definitely wasn’t a boring match, with both wrestlers able to counter just about every move the opponent made.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll see him [Rinehart] at districts and state again,” Scotto said. “Last year I was able to pin him, so it’s getting a little closer.”

Scotto’s win put Hermiston up 15-14 after six bouts, and the Dawgs churned out another conference win from there, winning the next three matches by forfeit, fall and major decision.

Matt Kilsdonk picked up the major win over Pendleton’s Ethan Johnson, abusing the Buck in a 15-5 pounding at 152 pounds.

While the senior realized before the meet it would be his last time wrestling in the friendly confines of The Dawg House, he and the rest of the crew knew they didn’t need to pull out all the stops.

“We were talking about up in the wrestling room, and we wanted to go out with a bang,” he said. “But at the same time we wanted to take it slow and get prepared for districts and state.”

At 160 pounds, Bryce McMahon started on track for a technical fall, running up a 6-0 lead early in the second round, but put Pendleton’s Wayne Fitzpatrick in the book with 13 seconds left in the round with a pin.

Senior Curtis Berger didn’t waste much time dispatching his opponent at 189 pounds, needing just 59 seconds to pin Bryan Branstetter.

The future North Dakota State Bison wrestler said that the fact it was the last home meet, and that the end to his high school wrestling career is near, really hasn’t quite hit him yet.

The Bulldogs are the heavy favorite to win the Class 5A championship, which would be the team’s fifth in a row.

In order to do that, however, Berger stressed that staying healthy is going to be the biggest key for the team during the coming weeks in preparation for districts and state.

“We can’t have guys go down with health or skin issues,” he said. “All of us, including myself, have to watch out for all of that.”


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