BEAVERTON — Any opportunity the HRV wrestling team had to sneak up on the Intermountain Conference this season was lost on Saturday when they traveled to Westview High School and won a nine-team invitational tournament with relative ease.
The Eagles won five of the 14 weight classes and advanced eight wrestlers to the final round. HRV also had a third, fourth, fifth and sixth place finish to give them 197.5 points and help them cruise past well-respected state programs like Bend, Beaverton and Gresham.
The only team to approach HRV in the final standings was 3A state-ranked Tillamook, which had 171 points. Bend finished third with 119.5 points, Cleveland fourth with 117.5, while Beaverton and McMinnville tied for fifth with 117.
“I wasn’t sure how we would wrestle, but I did expect to win it,” HRV coach Mark Brown said. “In the end, we ran away with the tournament.”
Josh Van Ek (119), Rocky Level (140), Jacobe Krizman (171), Nate Dethman (189) and Tommy Owyen (275) all won their respective weight classes, while Trent Shelton (152), Jason DeHart (160) and Nigel Bond (215) each settled for second place.
Jorge Lujano finished third in the heavyweight division, and almost set up an all-HRV final against Owyen. But Lujano was called for a “locked-hands” violation in the second OT period of his semifinal match against Peter St. John, and didn’t advance.
Senior John Harvey (145) was also dealt a difficult blow on Saturday when he was disqualified for flagrant misconduct during his semifinal match. That ruling will force him to sit out Thursday’s four-team dual meet at David Douglas.
In that match, HRV will be tested against a strong Southridge team, which was ranked No. 14 among Oregon high school tournament teams to start the season.
“Southridge is a very good and very talented team,” Brown said of the Skyhawks, who are coached by one of Brown’s former Sheldon High School pupils, Ryan Mattingly.
David Douglas, which finished second to HRV in the 2001 Mt. Hood Conference dual meet standings, is also tough year after year.
But, with 11 key varsity returnees from last year’s district championship team, Brown’s Eagles look poised to continue their roll right on through to the Intermountain Conference district meet and, hopefully, state.
“We’re very confident right now,” Brown said of his team, which includes seven state qualifiers from last year. “Everyone on the team puts so much time into the sport, and they are all excited to show how far they have come since last year.”
And, while the Eagles have performed exceptionally well thus far, they still haven’t wrestled to their full potential. Injuries, eligibility and other obligations such as work and academic testing have all slowed HRV on its path toward complete domination.
But the Eagles have still been dominant enough to handily win their first two meets. Five individual champs and another “should’ve won” at Westview have provided Brown and the Eagles with plenty of momentum heading into David Douglas.
“Nigel really should have won the 215-pound class, but the scorer’s table had the whole thing wrong,” Brown said.
“The match should have been 6-5 Bond, but the official looked at the bout sheet and added more points to his opponent’s score for a two-point nearfall that never actually happened. I had to hold my temper and try to console Nigel, who was understandably upset.”
Brown said that even the opposing coach, Buck Davis of Bend, told the referee that Bond had won the match, but the ref stayed with his decision and awarded first place to Neil Fagen by a score of 7-6.
Bond will have his chance to avenge the referee’s miscue when HRV travels to Bend on Jan. 25 for an Intermountain Conference dual meet. DeHart will look to do the same at that meet when he looks to overcome Jared Haller, who beat him 12-2 in the finals at Westview.
Even the wrestlers who didn’t make the finals on Saturday put together superb efforts at Westview. Sophomores Zach Bohince (112) and Jayde Cannon (103) placed fifth and sixth, respectively, and made Brown very proud.
“What a pleasure it is to see a kid (Cannon) who is giving up 10 pounds each time, and still compete throughout each match,” he said.
Salvador Fuentes (125) was the only HRV varsity wrestler that didn’t advance past the first round.