What was billed as a “rebuilding year” has turned into a season of demolitions for the Hood River Middle School wrestling team.
The Panthers, who posted an 8-0 season dual meet record, added a huge exclamation point Friday at Hood River Valley High School by winning the Mid Columbia district title in convincing fashion.
HRMS scored 130 points and won eight of 20 weight classes to surpass equally tough lineups from Wy’east (114 points, three champs) and Goldendale (103 points, five champs).
“Our kids really met the challenge at district,” Panthers coach Keith Bassham said. “They worked extremely hard the week before, and achieved everything I thought they could.”
Individual champions from HRMS were Sean Baker (90 pounds), Ben Eddy (95 pounds), Antonio Garcia (105 pounds), Race Fischer (130 pounds), Erick Lujano (156 pounds), Cory Miller (165 pounds), Craig Arbon (190 pounds), and Alex Titus (275 pounds).
Individual winners for Wy’east were Gary Paasch (115 pounds), Steven Woody (125 pounds), and Joey Lewis (175 pounds).
“With every team improving throughout the year, the district field was very strong this year,” Wy’east coach Randy Kiyokawa said. “We had a strong showing overall, and we were able to grab second place because of seven second-place finishers.”
Topping the list of runners-up for the Eagles was eighth-grader J.J. Johnson, who came in as the favorite at 136 pounds. Johnson had pinned each of his opponents heading into the final against Goldendale’s Daniel Sanchez, but ended up losing by fall in what Bassham called “the upset of the night.”
Also taking second place for Wy’east were Brandon Gass (75 pounds), Jacob Bohince (95 pounds), Julio Avila (110 pounds), Jon Wadman (156 pounds), Sergio Muñoz and Jeremy Rowley (190 pounds).
To go with its eight individual titles, HRMS also had four second-place finishers: Jeremy Davis (80 pounds), Steven Konopasek (85 pounds), Brandon Nakamura (100 pounds), and Zach Eaton (175 pounds).
Fifteen HRMS wrestlers and 13 Wy’east wrestlers will travel to Woodburn High School this weekend for the state championships. More than 500 middle-school wrestlers attended last year.