Clackamas takes on COVID and Nature to secure the third title in a row
Unique times took on a new meaning in the recent wrestling season. The unthinkable circumstances stacked for Clackama’s Community College Cougars are overlooked.
“In true Oregon fashion,” Clackama head coach Josh Rhoden said. “We [were] become super-conservative on the COVID side compared to the states our competitors are in. “
The move-in week for the Cougars was at the end of August 2020. Autumn camp would routinely start about a month later, at the end of September. COVID and local forest fires as close as 17 miles away caused the team to evacuate campus.
After losing several recruits due to COVID and forest fire problems, October seemed to look promising as the team was able to participate in outdoor weights and cardio training.
“We were just trying to keep everyone on the same page, all the time knowing well and well we might not be fighting this year,” Rhoden said. The national tournament was scheduled for April 21-22, with the Cougars planning to compete for their third team title in a row.
Behind closed doors, conversations continued with concerns about having a season on the mat. Rhoden opened communication with Nick Mitchell at the NAIA power Grand View in Iowa in hopes of using Grand View’s facilities that his team could train.
In the midst of trying to find an alternative training plan, a COVID outbreak shut down Clackama’s athletic programs for the rest of the quarter, followed by an ice storm in January that removed all power from campus. In February, the team was allowed to use North Idaho College’s training facilities twice with proper quarantine, but the request to train in Iowa in a “bubble” setup was denied.
“We have social media. So it’s easy to see Western Wyoming and Iowa Central and all these places fighting,” Rhoden said.
At the end of March, COVID rules finally allowed the Cougars to use their training facilities less than a month before the team would claim their third team title in a row.
“We got the lead at 133 with Zeth’s win,” Rhoden said. “You may not even go from being at the meeting place to [getting to] compete for a chance to win a third title in a row to secure a third title in the most dramatic way. ”
The Cougars finished the season at the top with 152.5 points, surpassing Western Wyoming, which had 147 at the end of the tournament.
One thing this season did, however, was to strengthen Rhodes’ relationship to wrestling. “I’m already blessed,” Rhoden said of his relationship with the sport. “I like [wrestling] more as a result of taking it away. ”