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Cottage Grove’s Shane Stalder, left, grapples with Central’s Noah Stepp in their 182-pound match Thursday at Central. Stepp, a senior in just his second year in the sport, went on to win by a 9-2 decision.
January 30, 2013
INDEPENDENCE -- Noah Stepp has not been a wrestler all of his life.
He spent the first two years of his high school winter sports career, oddly enough, in the pool.
"I swam my freshman and sophomore year and I was pretty good at that," Stepp, now a Central High senior, said.
But he realized the water wasn't really what Stepp -- who also plays football and rugby -- was looking for.
"It wasn't as physical as I was used to and as I like," he added.
With two dominating decision wins in Thursday's Oregon West Conference duals against Stayton and Cottage Grove, it appears that Stepp has found his calling.
The 182-pounder picked up one of only four Central wins in a 51-17 loss to Stayton, defeating Zackary Williams by a 9-1 major decision.
In Central's 42-30 nightcap victory over Cottage Grove, he didn't lose much ground, beating Shane Stalder, 9-2.
With his obvious muscular physique -- and the strength to match it -- Stepp made his inexperience in wrestling technique nearly invisible Thursday.
"He's a beast," Central coach Van Holstad said. "I wish I would have got him a lot earlier. He's a good kid, too; he's one of the harder workers."
Most of his work came in the offseason, when Stepp used plenty of weight training to build up the strength that he sometimes has to rely on.
"As soon as wrestling was over last year I went straight into rugby workouts and as soon as that was over, straight back to football workouts.
"I was lifting basically the whole time."
As his technique continues to improve -- he utilized a wrestling move called "the body lock takedown" Thursday -- Stepp said he hopes he can accomplish big goals.
"I definitely think I can place at state, if not take state. I'm getting there."
David Vidal, a 220-pound junior, dropped a tough match against Stayton's Dylan Smith, but bounced back for a 4-3 decision win over Marcus Bailey of Cottage Grove.
Central's David Vidal, top right, tries to get the pin on Stayton's Dylan Smith Thursday.
Vidal, though, wasn't close to satisfied -- he had Smith on his back in Round 1 but wasn't able to finish the pin. Smith went on to win by a pin in the third round.
"I just wasn't mentally prepared for it," he said. "I hung with that guy ... just my mind took over."
Holstad said Vidal has the physical skills to do plenty of damage at this year's district meet but his confidence can sometimes be his downfall.
"Physically, there's no one more capable around -- we just have to figure out the mentality, which is hard."
Added Vidal: "I just need to not think and just do, and I need to take that into perspective and battle through it."
In the match against Cottage Grove, Colin Swinehart (113), Riley Olson (170) and Collyn Lawson (195) all added wins for Central.
Against Stayton, other Panther winners included Tim Blair (120), Feliciano Mata (126), Tanner Swinehart (145) and John Lippsmeyer (152).
STEPP, VIDAL LEAD AT MONROE: Stepp and Vidal each placed second in their respective weight classes to lead Central to a fifth-place finish in Saturday's 13-team Monroe Invitational. Stepp was a runner-up in the 182-pound class, finishing the day with a 3-1 record while Vidal (220) placed second with a 2-1 record. Other placers for the Panthers included Colin Swinehart (third, 113); Jacobo Flores (sixth, 113); Tim Blair (third, 120); Chris Chavez (sixth, 126); Tanner Swinehart (third, 152); Beto Meza (fifth, 182); and Collyn Lawson (fourth, 195).
Central at Newport
When: Thursday, 6 p.m.
Central at Cottage Grove Tournament
When: Saturday, 9:30 a.m.