SILVERTON — Senior Gabe Cervantes wasted little time going all out on the mat against his Silverton opponent Thursday night, pinning him 31 seconds in.
Wrestling, like many sports, can be a highly emotional sport — athletes work so hard throughout these four months, and stakes just get higher and higher the closer districts draw.
For Cervantes, a wrestler at Central High School, those emotions got to him during that match — and not in a good way, he said.
“I was a little off character at the end of the match; I pushed (my opponent) off of me,” Cervantes said. “But I shouldn’t have done that. And it got to me, and I was like, that’s not right, so I apologized to him, but it was a good match. He was tall — he was tall for me, I had to reach up high and I was like, this guy’s strong. And I was kind of worried, but I just wrestled, made it my match and got the pin.”
The Central Panthers battled at Silverton Thursday night in duel matches against the Foxes and the North Salem Vikings. While the team came away with losses against both teams, several individuals came away with the win: Cervantes, with pins against both of his opponents; senior Ricky Taylor, against North Salem; junior Brock Pierce, against North Salem; senior Miguel Sandoval, against both, and senior Gabriel Padilla, against Silverton.
With districts around the corner, Cervantes is just trying to stay focused.
“I’m just going to go out there, doing what I do,” he said. “Just wrestle and be smart and get some pins. At least be in the top three at districts.”
Then he paused, grinned and said, “No, you know what, why not? I’ll be No. 1.”
It’s his last year for a shot at the state tournament; last year he took sixth place in districts, which edged him out of the state competition by two places.
“This is my last year wrestling, and it hurts,” he said. “I’m going to miss it.”
On the girls side of things, seniors Leslie Torres, Leah Dickson and freshman Katerina Nielson will compete this weekend at the regional state qualifier at Century High School. The top four wrestlers of that meet will go on to the 5A state wrestling meet in Portland on Feb. 29 - March. 1.
Next up this week is a dual match against Lebanon on Feb. 6 at 4 p.m.