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David Perry doesn’t know what it’s like to see Kelso lose a league wrestling match. He wasn’t about to find out on Wednesday, either.

Down 30-14, the Scotties needed a spark and found it in Perry’s first-round pin of Noah Shelton. It kickstarted a run of three straight first-round pins and a forfeit to end the match 38-30 in Kelso’s favor on Wednesday. The win seals at least a share of the Greater St. Helens 3A League crown.

“First thing I thought was ‘Kelso doesn’t lose,’” Perry said of his mindset entering his 220-pound bout. “I just knew I couldn’t lose, and had to win it for the team. I went out with a lot of aggression. I knew if I went out and gave everything from start to finish, I would end up breaking him.”

McKinnley Franklin followed suit at 285 pounds, holding Brody Scheafli in the circle to earn a pin with 3 seconds remaining in the first round. It sent the gym into a frenzy, as the deficit was down to 30-26 when the match flipped back around to the lightweights.

“That match changed up top when you have these seniors that come in,” assistant coach Pat Connors said. “You have David Perry, who all he’s done for four years is grind; McKinnley Franklin, those are kids that got it handed to them their entire freshman year. Now they’re giving it.”

Freshman Ashton Ammons sealed the victory by scoring a first-round fall of Lucas Lyle to give the Scotties their first lead at 32-30. And the Falcons weren’t about to send anybody out against Class 3A’s third-ranked wrestler, Alan Luff.

“I just had to win it for the team,” said Ammons, who quickly confirmed it was the biggest moment of his budding wrestling career. “Just stick him, and get the six points.”

But it was little things throughout the match that led Kelso back to its usual perch atop the league. After falling to a 15-0 hole after two early pins, the Scotties needed to lean on their stories past to find present-day glory.

Derick Soto’s 10-second pin at 138 pounds ignited a spark. Jovani Jimenez survived a first-round scare and rolled to a 13-5 major decision at 145 pounds. Shale Webb fought hard to work a 7-4 defeat at 152 pounds. Jakob Webb scored a major decision at 160 pounds.

“You have to stay the course. You have to trust your training,” Connors said. “The program precedes itself. Coach Freund teaches a certain thing, and it’s just the support mechanism. … It’s a way of life; it’s what we do. We never quit, and we wrestle hard. We train hard for those moments, these occasions.“

This is being a Hilander wrestler. The team always comes first, and finding ways to win even when things are seemingly going so wrong has become ingrained in Kelso lore.

There’s still business left to do at Mountain View on Wednesday to clinch the title outright, but the mindset the Scotties will take to Vancouver is clear.

In Perry’s words: “Don’t lose.”

The Kelso girls — Makayla Roggow (140), Alexia Jimenez (170) and Haley McAninch (170) — all earned first-round pins.

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Sports Editor

Joshua is the sports editor for The Daily News. He joined the staff in January 2016 after working at The Bellingham Herald. He is a Western Washington University graduate and native of the Puget Sound region.

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