Welcome to the NJCAA boys, Big Bend wrestlers learning on the fly

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Rodney Harwood

Funny thing about wrestling, different levels require a different skill set and the all-freshman lineup at Big Bend Community College got its indoctrination to the NJCAA with a 48-6 loss at Eastern Oregon on Saturday.

Vikings coach Jose Tanguma is a local guy, coached five seasons at Warden and coached a little bit with Jaime Garza at Moses Lake. He did a good job blending local with regional talent. But with a team full of freshmen, there’s nothing like a good kick in the pants to get the energy level going.

“We didn’t wrestle well at all. But it was a lesson learned and a nice wakeup call for a lot of kids that thought it was going to be like high school,” said Tanguma, who wrestled for Pat Whitcomb over at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene. “Eastern Oregon is NAIA and they had a lot of seniors. Instead of wrestling 18-year-olds, they were going against 22-year-olds.

“Lets just say there’s a lot to learn.”

Tanguma’s brought a nice little selection of locals in Cade Cox (Ephrata), Martin Dominguez (Warden), Tyrone Mendez (Warden), Jose Galindo (Royal), Eduardo Rodriguez (Royal) and Pablo Mejia (Moses Lake).

“I thought Dominguez wrestled well at Eastern Oregon,” Tanguma said. “He was penalized couple of times in a 3-1 loss. I would like to have seen what would have happened with the score tied and the match on the line.”

Dominguez won a 1A state championship at 220 in his final Mat Classic. He brings solid credentials to the room at Big Bend, but like the rest — “You’re not in Kansas anymore Toto.”

Columbia Basin college wrestling fans will have their first look at the Runnin’ Vikings on Friday. They are headed to the Mike Clock Open at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. and will also catch Grays Harbor.

It’s an uphill battle reestablishing a program, but it’s well worth it. The last time anyone wore a Vikings’ wrestling singlet, was during the 1994-95 season.

The decision to return wrestling to Big Bend was multifaceted, spurred on by the local talent as well as the college's legacy of helping student-athletes.

"For the last five years, Big Bend athletes have had either the best or second-best GPAs in the state of Washington for schools our size," said athletic director Mark Poth, whose program is the only collegiate wrestling program in Eastern Washington. "That level of success in the classroom is proof that our coaches recruit not only good athletes, but good people with great character.

"We feel as an athletic department that we can continue to grow that success with the expansion of our athletic offerings and with the extreme interest in both men's and women's wrestling in our service area it feels like a win-win situation."

Rodney Harwood is a sports writer for the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at rharwood@columbiabahinherald.com

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