Senior Ben Hernandez wrestled his brother, freshman Lukas Hernandez, in an exhibition match. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Wrestling in the home gymnasium under the spotlight in a single-mat dual, Philomath High School’s 63-17 victory over Central featured nine pins, two technical falls and a major decision. The positive outcome for the Warriors occurred on a Friday night when the program recognized its seniors.

One of the most entertaining moments of the evening occurred in a match that nobody will find in the official results. Ben Hernandez, one of those seniors that was honored before the dual, didn’t have an opponent to wrestle and was credited with a forfeit victory at 120 pounds. But he still took the mat for an exhibition against freshman Lukas Hernandez.

And yes, that’s his little brother.

“Last home match with the brother and he’s starting his high school career in wrestling,” Ben Hernandez said following his victory. “It was a nice little sendoff for me.”

The Hernandez boys are very familiar with one another, of course, and Ben typically wins on a pin — which was again the case on Friday night. Their dad, Sal Hernandez, positioned himself on the front row of the bleachers to capture the bout on video.

“Lukas has been one of my training partners for a while, so I knew he was going to be a solid match,” he said. “He’s good — better than what he shows.”

Senior David Griffith moves in for the pin against Central’s Rodrigo Alvarez. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Among the five seniors on the PHS wrestling roster, three participated in matches against Central with Caleb Blackburn, Chase Ringwald and David Griffith all posting victories. Hernandez had the forfeit win at 120. The team’s other senior, Ty Olson, was not available to wrestle.

“It’s the second one of these so far,” Griffith said, referring to Senior Night in football being the first and a third one coming up this spring in baseball. “It’s weird to think that this is the last time I’ll wrestle here considering that the first time didn’t feel like it was that long ago.”

Philomath’s Ellie Morton won on a major decision over her opponent. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The dual opened with two female wrestlers matching up at 106 pounds and Philomath junior Ellie Morton battled for a 15-5 major decision. Blackburn didn’t work up much of a sweat in his 126-pound bout with a pin in just 43 seconds.

Freshman Riley Barrett, who has a 35-3 record, was unchallenged at 132 with a pin in 1:01. Ringwald followed with a technical fall victory of 15-0 over his opponent at 138. Freshman Porter Compton then fought for a pin in 5:18 at 145.

After Central was able to come away with the first of its three wins, Philomath sophomore JJ Lewis posted a pin in his 160-pound match with just 21 seconds remaining in the bout. Griffith followed with a pin over his counterpart in 3:46.

The Warriors finished strong with wins by junior Jacob Hamlet at 220 and freshman Lake Mulberry at 285. Hamlet won on a pin in 1:46 and Mulberry wore down his opponent for a pin in 5:02.

Senior Chase Ringwald dominated his opponent in a 15-0 technical fall. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Philomath can now focus on districts to put it all on the line in an attempt to qualify for state.

“I am going to go to 113 and I believe (Kyle) Sieminski will also go to 113, so that should be good right there,” Ben Hernandez said. “We’ll be 1 and 2 right there in the state.”

Sieminski, a junior at Sweet Home, currently has a 42-2 record while Hernandez is 33-3. They have not wrestled each other this season.

Griffith missed most of December and the first week of January recovering from an injury and heads to districts with a 19-8 record.

“I’m starting to get back into actual wrestling shape,” Griffith said. “So hopefully at the end of the season, I’ll be at my best right when it matters.”

The Special District 2 Regionals meet is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 18 at Cascade High School. This year’s state meet returns to Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland and will run Feb. 23-25.

Caleb Blackburn won in 43 seconds in his final appearance at the PHS gym. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Two team wins at Junction City

Philomath competed in its third double duals meet of the season on Thursday with an appearance in Junction City. The Warriors rolled to victories of 71-12 over North Eugene and 57-11 over the host school.

Sophomore River Sandstrom (106), Ben Hernandez (120), Compton (145) and junior Jared Gerding (182) each had two pins on the evening. Blackburn had two wins as well on a technical fall and decision. Wrestling once and winning were Barrett (132), Ringwald (138), junior Gradin Fairbanks (152) and Hamlet (285).

Sandstrom’s pins against North Eugene and Junction City came in 1:04 and 1:07, respectively. Hernandez had first-period victories as well in 41 seconds and 1:20. Compton won on pins in 2:39 and 3:53. And Gerding pinned his opponents in 1:43 and 59 seconds.

Blackburn worked for an 18-2 technical fall over his North Eugene counterpart and beat his Junction City opponent, 10-3.

In the North Eugene dual, Philomath also had wins by Barrett on a pin in 3:03, Ringwald on a pin in 3:45, Fairbanks on a pin in 1:50, Lewis on a pin in 1:15 and Hamlet on a pin in 1:40. Each team won a match by forfeit and there was a double forfeit at 220. There were also a half-dozen exhibition matches and the Warriors won five of six with Lukas Hernandez, freshman Brayden Williams, sophomore Cameron McConnell, freshman Liam Bennett and freshman Ben McGovern raising their hands in victory. Sophomore Ryder Zitlau lost by the slimmest of margins on a 6-5 decision.

Against the Wildcats, Griffith pinned his opponent in 54 seconds. There were double forfeits at 113 and 285 and the Warriors won four weight divisions by forfeit.

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.