The sweet science?
The 38 fighters in the Mission Valley Rumble “Smoker” Thursday night didn’t bother to bring any science into the ring with them. There was no feigning, no precise footwork, no bobbing-and-weaving, and the high school fighters certainly didn’t bother to take a round or two of slow prodding to find their opponents weakness. Instead it was a full-on brawl filled with wild haymakers and furious combos the entire three rounds, and the nearly 500 fans packed into the muggy St. Ignatius Community Center were thankful for that. But more importantly the young athletes of the community were thankful for that.
In its third year, the rumble is the main fundraiser for the youth sports programs in St. Ignatius, like Little Guy Wrestling, Little Dribblers and Little Bulldog Football. “It’s how we can afford busses to camps and tournaments,” explained Pete Hamilton, the St. Ignatius football coach and one of the smoker’s organizers.
With tickets at $20 for adults and $15 for students, the Mission Little Guys shouldn’t be skipping any camps or tournaments this year – the rumble raised nearly $4,000 for the area’s youth sports. The audience that paid the price of admission left the building knowing that they got more than their money’s worth.
Rarely does the main event live up to its billing, but on a night full of action the final fight between 2010 state wrestling champs Cameron “Not So” Neiss and Cole “Steel Chin” Rice capped them all.
In the back-and-forth match that brought the entire crowd out of their seats, both fighters displayed the special kind of heart and fortitude it takes to become a state wrestling champion, recovering from vicious blows to deliver a violent combination of their own.
If there’s a microphone in St. Ignatius, there’s a pretty good chance Les Rice is near it, and he was there Thursday to announce the fights. After the Neiss-Rice bout, a tuxedo-clad Les Rice told the anxious crowd that it was the closest fight he’s seen in the three years, and while the judges tallied up the scorecards and the outcome was uncertain, there was no doubt that Neiss and Rice put on the best show and both were awarded a silver medallion for the “Fight of the Night”.
“I’m not making this up either,” Les Rice told the crowd as he explained the state rule that if a judge rules a bout a draw he has to pick a winner. All three judges ruled the fight a draw, and two of them picked Neiss the winner.
While most of the crowd was unsure of who was going to be declared the winner, there was little doubt for Ben Corral, Neiss’ corner man.
“I’m the one that always wins the main event, I done it all three years and I’ve won every time,” said Corral, adding that the three years he spent in the corner, he’s watched the fight card get longer each year, but more importantly, “The crowd gets bigger and bigger each year.”
With the victory, Neiss, a two-time state wrestling champion, is now 3-0 at the rumble. Going up against Rice in the main event, he knew he was going to have his hands full and so he trained with coach Doug Fisher.
“I trained to be ready, but I wasn’t as ready as I should have been. I gassed pretty bad,” Neiss said.
Neiss definitely took some hard shots from Rice, but he gave just as much as he got.
“I felt like I connected a couple times and then I saw the blood start flowing and that kept me going,” Neiss said.
Blood was spilled early and often Thursday night.
“You got to have a little blood on the ring or you can’t call it a fight night,” Les Rice told the crowd after they watched Tanner “The Quiet Riot” Johnson and Victor “The Viper” Barnaby splatter the ring with their own blood in the third fight of the night.
The bloodiest fight of the night was between Dylan “Rain of Pain” Evans and Christian “The Glock” Haynes.
Evans ended up winning the split decision, which left both fighter banged up and bruised afterwards.
“It was pretty bloody,” Evans said. “But it was all about our school,” the upcoming Mission sophomore said.
Because it was for the programs that Evans grew up in, he didn’t mind getting in the ring in front of large crowd to do something he’s had little practice in.
“It’s really nervous until you get hit for the first time, then it’s just a ball,” Evans said.
Like the fight card stated “There are no losers tonight; anyone who is brave enough to step in the ring is a winner and worthy of our respectful acknowledgement.”
Wesley “The Wicked” Nowlen, TKO, vs. Dakota “The Storm” Gunhammer
Matt “The Featherweight” Finley, 2-1 dec. vs. Scotty “Superman” Gilleard
Tanner “The Quiet Riot” Johnson, 3-0 dec. vs. Victor “The Viper” Barnaby
Curtis “Ol’ Yeller” Arvidson, TKO, vs Barret “Bam Bam” Sargent
Dylan “Rain of Pain” Evans, 2-1 dec. vs Christian “The Glock” Haynes
Shelby “The Trooper” Grant 3-0 dec. vs. Ryce “The Minute Man” Hegwood
Shelby “The Dragon” Rodda, 2-1 dec. vs Monty “Shadow Cree” Shawl
Timothy “The Heartbreak Kid” Riedl, 3-0 dec. vs. Justin “Happy Mustache” McCollum
Andrew Teigan, 3-0 dec. vs. Brandon Bontrager
Travis “The Wrestler” Dumont, 3-0 dec. vs. Brad “The Hannibal” Hartwell
Lane “The Gypsy” Wheeler, 3-0 dec. vs Nicolai “The Danish Dynamite” Jensen
Courtney “The Chosen One” Couture, 2-1 dec. vs Donnilyn “I Make Boys Cry” Rossbach
Jocelyn “Young Jock” Stevens, TKO, vs. Shay “The Shay Za Shay” Booth
Thomas “The Powershifter” Trahan, TKO, vs. Matthew Westenburg
Cecelia “Remember the Name” Koskela, 3-0 dec. vs. Tianna “The Kryptonite Crusher” Plant
Dylan “The Fireman” Moran, 2-1 dec. vs Carston “The Chief” Baerstch
Bryce “The Knockout” Norling, TKO, vs. Lakota Matt
Mackenzie “The Mighty” Trudeau, 3-0 dec. vs. Ontequa “The Teeka” Matt
Cameron “Not So” Neiss, dec. 2-1 vs. Cole “Steel Chin” Rice.