OREGON – There was a silver lining to Morrison having a rare down year in football.
The Mustangs' wrestling team was able to get in its full complement of preseason practices with a full squad, and it showed on Tuesday night at the Blackhawk Center in Oregon. Morrison opened with victories over the host Hawks 57-16 and Dixon 50-25.
"We had every single person on the team come in on time, instead of half the team coming in late because of football," junior 152-pounder Austin Keller said. "We got an earlier start on the season, and I think that helped out a lot tonight."
Keller was one of four double winners for the Mustangs. He needed just 1 minute, 3 seconds to pin Dixon's Calvin Jensen, then handled Oregon's Dom Marchetti in just 2:19.
"I do the cradle quite a bit," Keller said. "I worked on it a lot quite a bit last year, and it's kind of my signature move. I pinned both of my kids tonight with that. It's something I work on in practice over and over again."
Morrison's other three double winners were in the upper weights. Junior 195-pounder Austin Shoup won 13-3 against Dixon's Connor Sperling, then pinned Oregon's Anthony Marchetti in 4:26.
At 220 pounds, sophomore Parker Zickert posted a pair of pins. He needed 2:58 to finish off Oregon's David Labash, then 2:43 to handle Dixon's Trent Scott.
At 285, sophomore Tyler Todd also won by two pins. He knocked off Oregon's Matthew Crandall in 2:59, then Dixon's Caleb Moton in 1:25.
Morrison coach Tony Wright was pleased with his wrestlers' first night of live action.
"I'm happy with how hard we wrestled, but we've got a long ways to go," Wright said. "We've got to work on our set-ups. We've got to work on our pressure. We've got to work on our bottom skills, but I'm happy with the outcome. It's good to start out 2-0."
Oregon (1-1) earned a split with a 40-30 decision against Dixon. The Dukes held a 30-28 lead entering the final two bouts, at 170 and 182. The Hawks' Garrett Rude received a forfeit at 170, then Jake Diehl capped off the match by pinning Bryce Schaefer in just 43 seconds.
"I thought Garrett Rude's forfeit clinched it for us," Diehl said. "I thought we had it in the bag, so I just went out there and wrestled."
Diehl also won by pin against Morrison's Tom Kohl in 4:38.
The Hawks' other double winner was 160-pounder Ashton Rutherford. He major decisioned Dixon's Shane Emery 12-4, and pinned Morrison's Korey Zigler in 2:27.
Leading the way for Dixon was senior 145-pounder Kylian Lally, who earned a pair of pins. He needed just 59 seconds to polish off Oregon's Corey Grady, then handled Morrison's Hunter Ferguson in 1:29.
Dixon was able to fill most of the weight classes, giving up just one forfeit to Oregon and two to Morrison. Head coach Chris Bishop has more bodies to work with this year, but a lot of them are new to the sport, so growing pains are to be expected.
"Our experienced guys, the guys that are supposed to do well, are doing really well," Bishop said. "Some guys in our lineup, they're brand new to wrestling, or they only have a couple of years of experience. You're seeing that in matches. Fortunately it's the beginning of the season and we've got a long ways to go. We'll build on this, and try to get them to wherever they might be able to go by the end of the season."
Stars of the matches
Jake Diehl (Oregon), Kylian Lally (Dixon), Austin Keller, Parker Zickert, Tyler Todd (Morrison) 2 pins apiece