University wrestling has the luxury of numbers. Nearly two teams worth of Titans have wrestled in Greater Spokane League varsity matches this season, giving coach Don Owen leeway when juggling his lineup against foes come big-meet time.
Thursday night was the first of six such meets over the next three weeks that determines this year’s champion. U-Hi displayed a serious intent while carving out a 55-18 victory over visitor and fellow unbeaten Mt. Spokane.
The Titans won 10 of 14 matches. Eight of the night’s 10 pins were theirs. They had a 34-0 lead just 25 minutes into the contest. By the ninth of 14 matches the outcome was mathematically assured.
“We’re a lot better than we were last year, that’s for sure,” Owen said afterward. “I knew it was going to be tough for them to win tonight. Mt. Spokane has a good team, but they just didn’t pair well against us.”
One such pairing came at 220 pounds where Tanner Orndorff topped league unbeaten Tom Harvey 8-0.
Starting in the upper weights, pins came so fast that two matches were over before an interview with Orndorff was completed.
He was one of three who had bumped up a weight to begin the match and followed Austin Stannard and Tyler Burns who began the pin parade.
The next two matches featuring his younger brother Tate and Kwest Osborn, lasted a mere one minute, 43 seconds while he was still talking. Freshman Cam Sorenson followed with one more first-round pin to boot.
Three matches later, Reilly Smith clinched U-Hi’s win with another fall, at 132 pounds.
Smith was coming back to wrestling after a year off. The win improved his GSL record to 4-0. Trailing 2-0 after the first period, he took over in the second, stopping Richie Bondurant, who was ranked one spot below him on a state wrestling website.
“Once I got taken down I was scared a bit,” he said. “I knew our team is in better condition so if I kept grinding and kept grinding I’d eventually wear him down. That’s what happened.”
The victory improved U-Hi’s league record to 5-0, the same as Mead and Central Valley, with matches against them looming on the horizon.
This weekend the school hosts its annual Pacific Northwest Classic.
“These kids of mine have worked hard,” Owen said. “I have a pretty solid kid in every weight class. That work ethic becomes contagious.”
In other matches: Lewis and Clark (1-5) twins, Derek and Travis Ellingsen, pinned their opponents in identical 3:35 times back-to-back at 152 and 160. They started a run of six wins in the final seven matches to edge visiting Shadle Park (1-4) 36-33. … With its top wrestlers coming at the end of the order, North Central (2-3) rallied past host Rogers (1-4) 39-33. The Indians won six straight matches between 126 and 152 pounds, the final three – Chance LeBlanc, Cody Kiourkas and Izaec Quintanilla – by pin. … CV had four pins and received four forfeits to defeat visiting Gonzaga Prep (0-5) 63-12. … Mead won 59-15 at Ferris (1-4), winning five by pin and four by forfeit.