Lucky seven: Local youth wrestlers place at state

Looking to capitalize on a strong district performance, the best of the best from the Hood River and Wy’east middle school wrestling teams traveled to Woodburn High School last Saturday for the 2003 state tournament.

The district champion Panthers finished 13th out of 70 teams, while district runner-up Wy’east came in at 27th place.

In the end, seven local kids — four from HRMS, three from Wy’east — placed in the top eight in their respective weight classes. Another eight — four from each school — finished among the top 11 (one match away from placing).

Leading the way for both teams was HRMS eighth-grader Alex Titus, who finished third at 195 after posting five falls on the afternoon. Teammates Sean Baker (6th place at 90 pounds), Zach Eaton (6th place at 175 pounds), and Ben Eddy (7th place at 95 pounds) also had strong showings for the Panthers.

Meanwhile, Wy’east seventh grader J.J. Johnson finished seventh at 136 pounds, eighth-grader Joey Lewis took seventh at 175 pounds, and Luke Schwartzel took eighth at 220 pounds.

“It was a really good experience for our guys to wrestle against the best in the state,” Wy’east coach Randy Kiyokawa said. “It’s a good barometer for us, and it should help our returning guys next year.”

Besides the seven local state placers, eight more kids placed in the top 11. For Wy’east, it was Brandon Gass (75 pounds), Joel Miller (129 pounds), Steven Woody (122 pounds), and Julio Avila (100 pounds).

For HRMS, it was Tyler Williams (75 pounds), Jeremy Davis (80 pounds), Brandon Nakamura (100 pounds) and Antonio Garcia (105 pounds).

“Most of our guys were right in there,” HRMS coach Keith Bassham said. “If we hadn’t been without a couple ‘sickies’, we could have placed in the top eight as a team.”

Both Bassham and Kiyokawa were proud of their wrestlers’ effort, and predict another positive season in 2004.

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