January 11, 2006
After a tough loss in last week’s dual meet against Crook County, the Eagles’ wrestling team stepped onto the mat Saturday with one major objective in mind: winning their annual home tournament.
And win it they did, in grand fashion. The annual Elks Memorial Invitational Wrestling Tournament brought eight teams to Hood River Valley High School this year. And after several rounds of action, the Eagles had 11 of their 15 wrestlers in the finals. In the end, the Eagles took first by an overwhelming margin over Tualatin, Lakeridge, Aloha, Gladstone, Lake Oswego, Marshall and Roosevelt high schools.
“It’s always nice to take home first place,” said Coach Rich Polkinghorn. “And it’s always nice to be on the winning team. We get such a jaded perspective of competition being in the Intermountain Conference (IMC). The teams on Saturday were sort of in the mid-pack in their conferences so it showed us that the team is stronger than we thought.”
Of the 11 that made it to the finals, seven took first place overall, which is seven out of only 10 weight classes. First-place finishers were Gage Morris at 103 pounds, Jose Ramirez at 112, Brandon Nakamura at 125, Kevin Dye at 130, Erick Lujano at 160, Sal Ledezma at 189 and Cory Miller at 125.
Second place finishers were Ben Eddy at 145, Justin Tolentino at 160, Lucas Mondragon at 189 and Hector Gonzales at 275.
Last season, the Parkrose Broncos edged Hood River by two points in the tournament to take first place from the Eagles. They would have none of that this year, as their nearest competition, second place finishers Tualatin High School were about 50 points behind.
Elks Invitational tournament winners receive a fairly unique award. Rather than a medal, recipients get an Elks mini semi-truck, with an engraved plaque fastened to the side. Ramirez, Gonzales and Lujano added another truck to their garage as repeat winners.
In perhaps the best and most inspiring match of the day, Ben Eddy faced a Marshall wrestler for first and second place. After taking an early lead, Eddy took a blow to the nose and began bleeding heavily. The match had to be stopped several times for the blood, which was remedied first by plenty of sanitary solution and cotton sticks packed in Eddy’s nose.
The Madison wrestler aggravated the situation, and Eddy’s blood soaked through the cotton like spilled wine through a paper-towel. With injury-time running down to zero, as a last resort HRVHS trainer Ed Medina lubed another swab with petroleum jelly, crammed it up Eddy’s nostril and tightly wrapped athletic tape several times around his head and face.
Clearly constrained, Eddy wrestled with heart and strength through the ordeal. With the match within a couple points at the last 30 seconds, Eddy made a mistake that put him on his back. He was pinned with four seconds remaining in the final period.
“Ben is a tough kid,” Polkinghorn said. “He’s battled his way into varsity and he’s turned into being very scrappy. It takes a lot of guts to keep going out there when your nose keeps bleeding like that.”
The tournament win gives Hood River momentum for their second league dual meet at Hermiston High School Wednesday night.
Then on Saturday, the boys travel to the Sunset Tournament before returning home on Jan. 20 to take on league rivals, The Dalles/Wahtonka Eagle-Indians (varsity at 7:30 p.m.).
The Eagles’ top five (so far):
Jose Ramirez — 14-2, 10 pins
Leo Gonzalez — 12-0, 10 pins
Erick Lujano — 12-6, 4 pins
Gage Morris — 11-5, 3 pins
Sal Ledezma — 9-3, 4 pins
1st Gage Morris- 3-0, 3 pins
1st Jose Ramirez- 2-0, 2 pins
1st Brandon Nakamura- 3-0
1st Kevin Dye- 2-0, 2 pins
1st Erick Lujano- 2-0
1st Sal Ledezma- 3-0, 2 pins
1st Cory Miller- 3-0, 2 pins
2nd Ben Eddy- 1-1, 1 pin
2nd Justin Tolentino- 2-1
2nd Hector Gonzalez- 2-1,