If you ask, you shall receive.
Before the 2001-02 season, HRV wrestling coach Mark Brown asked his team for a district title. And on Feb. 16, the team fulfilled his request.
But Brown didn’t just receive his wish at the district championiships. He watched as his focused group of grapplers pounded the Mt. Hood Conference into submission and physically took the district title away from defending champ Gresham.
“It was the team’s unselfish attitude that enabled us to win the championship,” Brown said. “It also applied to the way we won the dual-meet title. The guys were always there for each other and they never quit.”
Armed with an artillery of 10 Mt. Hood Conference place winners from 2001, and a healthy dose of senior leadership, the Eagles took the first step toward league supremacy on Dec. 13, when they dismantled Gresham on the HRVHS mat.
The win not only showed the Gophers that a defense of their title would not be easy, it showed the rest of the league — specifically Reynolds, Centennial and David Douglas — that the road to the Mt. Hood Conference championship would have to pass through Hood River.
The Eagles continued to roll in the early season, beating a strong Barlow squad on the road and a rugged Centennial side at home. They also won the Jan Anderson Invitational and put up strong showings at the Best in the West tournament (Dec. 21-22 in Pasco, Wash.) and the Oregon Classic (Jan. 11-12 in Redmond).
But the best was yet to come. As the competition became increasingly intense, the Eagles dug deep within themselves and rose to the occasion in every match.
They bucked the Broncos of Parkrose on Jan. 17, roughed up Reynolds on Jan. 24, punished Pendleton at the Elks Invite, and socked it to a sorry Sandy bunch by a score of 70-3 on Jan. 31.
That set up the final conference showdown with undefeated David Douglas on Feb. 6 for the dual-meet title. After falling behind early, the Eagles maintained their poise and reeled off seven straight victories to quiet the rowdy Scots’ crowd.
The win put HRV at 7-0 in the conference and provided them with needed momentum heading into the district championships at Barlow High School.
The Eagles’ undefeated record proved to be no farce as HRV manhandled the competition in the early rounds to take an insurmountable lead heading into Saturday’s finals and all but guarantee Brown and the Eagles their first 4A district title.
During the demolition, HRV won a school-record 14 district places — including one district champ, 160-pound Jacobe Krizman — and sent and unprecedented number of wrestlers (11) to state.
“We stood out as a team this year,” senior 171-pounder Jason Macioroski said. “This is a great way to go out.”
Fellow senior Esteban Avila had the best luck at state, winning eighth place overall at 119 pounds. Juniors Trent Shelton (145) and Tommy Owyen (275), and sophomore Nigel Bond (189) also had impressive showings, winning two matches apiece, and will help lead next year’s team as it moves into the brutal Intermountain Conference.
“The experience at state made us stronger,” Brown said. “We have a lot of work to do, but we’re going to compete no matter who we’re up against.”