Forfeiting four of the 14 weight classes couldn't hold the Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling team down in the first day of the Northwest Duals Tournament on Thursday in Portland, Ore.
The Crimson Bears went a perfect 3-0 in preliminary pool competition and defeated Tualatin, Ore., in a winner's bracket matchup in the first day of the 32-team, two-day tourney.
"I didn't think with forfeiting four weight classes that it would turn up like that," JDHS freshman Bryce Saviers said. "I didn't think it could happen, not that I didn't want it to happen, but I just didn't think about it."
Despite giving up 24 points in each dual meet, Juneau-Douglas' 10 wrestlers each stepped it up in the tournament.
JDHS will wrestle four more matches on Saturday and can finish no worse than eighth in the tournament.
"We've got some holes in the lineup and that's pretty normal for Christmas time," JDHS assistant coach Darrin May said. "The 10 kids that we have that show up consistently are the best team that I and (head coach Kris Mercer) have coached since we started three years ago."
Juneau-Douglas opened the meet in impressive fashion by winning all 10 matches it competed in during a 51-24 victory over McMinnville, Ore., and a 48-24 win against the Renegades, a collection of wrestlers from smaller schools.
The Crimson Bears completed its perfect run through pool competition by earning a tight 42-36 win over Liberty, Ore.
Jake Mason proved to be the difference-maker against Liberty. With Juneau leading 30-24 with one Bears forfeit and two Liberty forfeits ahead, Mason needed to win his match to seal the victory.
The 215-pounder responded by pinning Anthony Sullivan in 53 seconds.
"They work hard every day in practice," May said. "They stick to the basics. We don't have too many kids with real big egos. Their egos are in check and they listen. That's the most important part is while they're wrestling they'll listen to us and they're teammates."
Juneau-Douglas defeated Tualatin, Ore., 37-30 in the winner's bracket as Saviers pinned Jason Lauritzen in 3:29 in the dual meet's final match to seal the win.
Saviers earned four pinfall victories during Thursday's action.
"My aggressiveness kept me going," Saviers said. "I'm always moving and aggressive, and I do what I can with what I've got."
JDHS also received a key win from 152-pound junior Garret Cox in the winner's bracket match versus Tualatin. Cox earned a 13-1 major decision over Tualatin's Chris Porter.
"I think one of the best matches of the night by far was Garret Cox," May said. "It was the best match I've ever seen him wrestle. He wrestled a stud and did not stop moving and beat him convincingly."
In addition to Saviers, JDHS had six wrestlers finish a perfect 4-0 on the day.
Mason and Justin Behrends split time between wrestling at 215 pounds and 275 pounds, but each went undefeated as Mason won all his matches by pin.
Tyler Zimmerman earned three pinfalls and a technical fall at 189 pounds, while Cox won all four matches.
Matt Barry (145 pounds) also went 4-0, including a 2-1 overtime win over Tex Tamayo of Liberty. Tamayor is currently ranked in the top eight in Oregon.
Steven Dyer (135) and Samson Keeney (171) each went 3-1 for the Crimson Bears.
Juneau-Douglas also received a nice boost from sophomore Ramiro Lamas.
The 160-pounder wrestled on Nov. 4-5 in Ketchikan and Dec. 16-17 in Sitka. The sophomore finished 2-2 in his first out-of-state action this season on Thursday.
"It's been pretty tough," Lamas said. "I'm pretty excited I won a couple matches. It's a big step for me."
Juneau-Douglas opens today's session against the defending tournament champions, Crook County, Ore.
"It's going to step up," Saviers said of today's competition. "We're going to try and do what we can. I think everyone is going to go home and get some rest. Everyone is pretty stoked about it."
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org