BEAVERTON — The Hood River Valley wrestling team may be young this year, but these kids sure have a lot of heart.
Just ask coach Mark Brown, who took nine varsity wrestlers and 12 rookies to a tournament at Westview High School last weekend — a tournament that HRV won going away in 2002.
“We didn’t do as well in the team standings this year, but a lot of really positive things happened, especially for our younger guys,” he said. “Our conditioning needs to improve overall, but I know it will. The big thing right now is gaining mat experience.”
As a team, the Eagles finished fifth out of eight, with four individual champions: Zach Bohince (119 pounds), Rocky Level (145), Jason DeHart (160) and Nigel Bond (215). But with only nine of the 14 weight classes represented, Brown wasn’t expecting any miracles.
“We have a ways to go, but the effort wasn’t bad for the first meet of the year,” he said. “Having Jorge (Lujano) probably would have helped, but I still don’t think we would have had the depth to win it all.”
Lujano, the team’s lone heavyweight, stayed behind Saturday to take the SAT’s. Fellow senior Mike Allen (145 pounds) also stayed home to nurse a shoulder injury.
However, the Eagles weren’t thinking about who wasn’t there. They were only focused on the primary goal of improving as much as possible before the Feb. 13-14 district tournament.
“I’d like to see us start turning guys more,” Brown said in reference to the team’s lack of pins. “I’ve been used to seeing so many pins the last few years, so it may take some getting used to.”
Brown realizes that this year’s team won’t likely dominate as it did last year. But there will still be the potential to score points.
Standout efforts by freshman Ben Eddy (103) and sophomore Sal Ledezma (189) added to the fireworks by the four individual champs. But Brown also noted that some of his more experienced wrestlers, such as Erik Flory (152) and Jose Ramirez (112), will need to step up if the team hopes to remain competitive.
“We’re going to need guys like Erik, Jose and Fernando (Ochoa) to score points for us,” Brown said of his three varsity wrestlers who went two-and-out at Westview.
If any of his wrestlers need a lift, Brown recommends that they watch Bohince, last year’s 103-pound Intermountain Conference district champ who has moved up to the 119-pound class in 2003-04.
Brown said Bohince stood out among the four individual champs because of his seemingly easy adjustment to the new weight class.
“Winning a district title makes you expect more of yourself,” Brown said. “Zach is wrestling like a stud right now, and you can see it in his eyes that he doesn’t ever think he’s going to lose.”
In addition to the nine varsity wrestlers, a handful of “rookie” wrestlers competed at two tournaments last weekend.
HRV earned four individual championships Friday at Westview, with Eddy winning the 103-pound class, John Phillips taking the 130-pound class, James Breckterfield winning the 135-pound class, and Alex Titus dominating the 195-pound class.
Derek Larson (2nd, 171), Luke Schwartzel (2nd, 190), and Joe Lewis (2nd, 165) also had strong showings for the Eagles.