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158-pounder Josh Phillips of the Kadena Panthers gets the upper hand on Chris David the Kubasaki Dragons during Friday's Okinawa Activities Council season-opening wrestling dual meet at Kubasaki High School, Camp Foster, Okinawa.
158-pounder Josh Phillips of the Kadena Panthers gets the upper hand on Chris David the Kubasaki Dragons during Friday's Okinawa Activities Council season-opening wrestling dual meet at Kubasaki High School, Camp Foster, Okinawa. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Seniors Devon Copeland and Cliff Johnson waited all their wrestling careers for a victory like this one.

Scoring back-to-back pins at 168 and 180 pounds, respectively, they helped the Kadena Panthers achieve the most one-sided victory against Kubasaki in the school’s 23-year history, routing the Dragons 44-11 Friday in the Okinawa Activities Council season opener.

“I feel really good,” Johnson said. “I know we’re going to be successful this season. I’m just really thankful.”

Like Copeland and a handful of Panthers veterans, Johnson had been on the losing end of lopsided dual meets against Kadena’s varsity.

Kubasaki, owner of a record 18 Far East High School Wrestling Tournament team titles, had beaten Kadena in 90 of 91 previous dual meets dating back to the 1982 season. The Panthers’ only other victory came on Jan. 31, 2002, a 25-24 win at Kadena.

This time, the Panthers left no doubt, scoring five pins, two technical falls and one decision.

“It feels very satisfying,” said Kadena coach Steve Schrock, who has coached the Panthers on and off for six seasons since 1996-97.

“Since 1996, I feel it was a snowball that got bigger and bigger. I have a great group of kids who are very motivated. I’m very proud of them. I didn’t think this would ever happen, but it has. Now the object is to keep it going.”

Schrock got pins from 215-pounder Cole Maxey, a junior who missed last season with an injury, and 129-pounder Brenden Stanford, the Far East 101-pound champion in 2002 who also suffered from injury and illness last year.

Veteran 135-pounder Antoine Smith scored a technical fall, as did newcomer Josh Phillips (158), while two first-year varsity wrestlers, Mike Prettyman (148) and Chris Maxey (122), scored pins.

“We’re still a work in progress,” Dragons second-year coach Terry Chumley said. “We’re a young team. But we’ll be back, absolutely.”

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