December 7, 2005
Taking pride and pleasure in hard work is something the Hood River Valley High School wrestling team is striving for this season.
They are getting the hard work part down, as they shape up for their first dual meet later this month. Finding pleasure in the often grueling demands of getting into wrestling condition does not come naturally, however, and Coach Rich Polkinghorn is working hard to instill a sense of satisfaction for sacrifice in his 42-man squad.
“Taking pride in working hard is something that makes kids champions,” Polkinghorn said. “We want them to feel proud of their hard work … We want them to be confident and aggressive and get after it on the mat.”
For the last few years, the Intermountain Conference (IMC) has been stacked with solid wrestling teams. This year looks to be the same, as the preseason 4A Rockwell rankings place three IMC teams in the state’s top ten (Redmond at 4th, Pendleton at 5th and Crook County at 9th). Topping the list are Crater (1st), Eagle Point (2nd) and Thurston (3rd) high schools. Last season the Eagles finished sixth in the IMC with a 2-6 league record.
“It’s early in the season and we’re in a tough conference, so it’s hard to gauge how we will fare,” said Polkinghorn. “I can say, we have kids who really want to get after it and compete. Our main goal is just to get better and better every week and to get the kids as many matches and opportunities to succeed as possible. With such a young team, we’re still looking at the big picture; we’re looking down the road to be a great team.”
With numbers up by about ten guys from last season, Polkinghorn has 14 freshman, 13 sophomores, nine juniors and six seniors to work with. Team captains this year, as voted by the team, are junior Alex Titus and seniors Jose Ramirez and Sal Ledezma.
“The kids picked wisely,” Polkinghorn said.
The boys saw their first matches of the season over the weekend, with the novice wrestlers competing at The Dalles on Friday and at the Newberg tournament on Saturday. The Varsity and JV squads wrestled in the Westview tournament.
At Westview, the varsity finished second as a team, three wrestlers finished first in their brackets and five finished third.
“I was impressed with how they wrestled,” Polkinghorn commented. “They did great with the stuff we’ve worked on in practice and we (the coaches) were really happy with how they competed.
“Every one of you that stepped onto the mat went after it and I’m proud of that,” Polkinghorn told the team at practice Monday. “But, who knows what complacency is? ... You guys did awesome and the wins this weekend were great, I don’t want to take anything away from that. But, we have a long season ahead of us and a lot of hard work to get done, so let’s come into practice every day ready to work hard and ready to get after it. I’m proud of you guys but I’m not satisfied.”
Highlights from Saturday’s varsity tournament include:
Jose Ramirez- first place, 3-0 with two pins
Sean Baker- first place, 2-0 with two pins
Leo Gonzalez- first place, 3-0
Erick Lujano- third place, 5-1 with 2 pins, 10 takedowns
John Phillips- third place, 3-1
Gage Morris- third place, 2-1
Sal Ledezma- third place, 2-1
Kevin Dye- third place, 3-1 with eight takedowns