PORTLAND — Esteban Avila had been through the drill before.
The senior 119-pounder was no stranger to the OSAA/U.S. Bank State Wrestling Championships. He had represented HRV during his first three years, but had never been able to crack the top eight.
Avila won his first two matches and a third-round consolation match to earn a spot in the final round, and capped his senior season with an eighth-place finish.
“I was kind of excited, but not really that nervous,” he said. “I just wanted to try as hard as I could to place in my last trip to state. I think my past experiences helped me.”
Avila, who finished second at the district championships Feb. 15-16, was one of two Mt. Hood Conference place winners at 119 (Barlow’s Jeff Taylor took fourth), and the only member of the Eagle squad to earn state immortality.
“I’m really happy for Esteban,” coach Mark Brown said. “He works so hard year in and year out. He’s such a great competitor. I know how badly he wanted to place and he earned it.”
Brown was pleased with the entire team’s effort at state and said the experience will give returning wrestlers like Josh Van Ek, Jacobe Krizman, Tommy Owyen, Trent Shelton, John Harvey, Nigel Bond and Rocky Level an advantage at next year’s state meet.
Moving into the Intermountain Conference — which placed four teams ahead of HRV in the final standings — will also help the Eagles grow into one of the top programs in the state in the years to come.
“It all starts here (at state),” Brown said. “We know we’re going to have to get better for the IMC and I think we sent a message that we’re going to compete.”
Besides Avila, HRV had a few more wrestlers make a run at the prize round. Owyen was one match away from placing in the 275-pound division, but lost a 5-3 overtime decision to Dan Johnson of Tualatin in consolation round three. Owyen did, however, pin two opponents along the way.
Bond, a sophomore, put together two wins in the 189-pound bracket before being eliminated in consolation round two. Fellow sophomore, Level, won one of his 135-pound matches by fall. Shelton (145) won two matches, including a pin of eventual seventh-place finisher Darren Mackaravitz of McKay.
Harvey (140) rolled to a big 12-3 win over Shawheen Shomloo of Churchill in consolation round one; Van Ek won a narrow 2-0 decision in round one of the 112-pound division; and Jacobe Krizman recorded a pin in his first 160-pound match before bowing out in consolation round one.
“Jacobe can win that thing next year,” Brown said. “He’s a talent. All he needs is more mat time.”