Two of the highest honors in Amateur Athletic Union wrestling went to a team representing Clay High School and coach Ralph Cubberly.
The Oregon Clay Gold team surprised its way to winning the AAU Scholastic Duals last week at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida, and Cubberly earned AAU national coach of the year honors.
Clay wrestling coach Ralph Cubberly was named AAU national coach of the year.
Clay won the Community One gold bracket, which was comprised of large school districts. Cubberly said he thought the team would be competitive on a national stage, but Clay ended up outperforming its own expectations and coming home with a championship at the event, often dubbed the “Disney Duals.”
“You just don’t know who’s showing up, and there are teams from all over the country,” Cubberly said. “The kids really, really wrestled tough and are getting better. As we went through our pool play and beat some of the better teams that had beaten us in previous Disney Dual tournaments like Perry Meridian from Indiana, I thought, ‘Wow, we’re not bad.’”
Clay swept its way through Pool L, winning all seven of its matches comfortably to advance into the gold medal bracket.
After beating a team from Hartland, Mich., 49-27 in a quarterfinals, Clay won the tournament with a pair of razor-thin decisions in the semifinals and final. Clay dispatched Camden, a Georgia state champion, by two points in a semifinal to advance to the final against Lake Gibson, Fla.
Jacob Moon (106 pounds), Gavin Ritter (113), and Jake Canitano (120) started off the match with three consecutive victories, but Clay dropped five of the next six weight classes.
Going into Josh Nagy’s match at 182, Clay knew it needed four victories in a row to win the dual meet and the bracket with it.
“It was like, ‘Wow, this is going to be a tough task,’” Cubberly said.
But after Nagy won 7-6, belief started to build — and the rest of the gym started to notice.
“As we started pulling them off and winning, the kids started believing and the energy started to flow,” Cubberly said.
“The whole gym pretty much stopped and they were all gathered around [the] mat 10 or 15 deep watching.”
Jacob Meek won 5-3 at 195 pounds, setting up Lyle Campbell at 220, who came away with a 1-0 decision. That left the entire meet up to heavyweight Nick Daly, who scored a takedown in overtime for a 6-4 victory and a 29-28 final score.
The end of the meet proved memorable for the graduated senior and the rest of the team, which became the first in Clay history to win the event.
“Nick’s a pretty good wrestler, and the kid he wrestled was pretty good too, so all you can do is go out there and do your best, and we’ll see what happens,” Cubberly said. “All the kids were cheering. It was awesome.”
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