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Titus toppled just shy of state title

By BEN MCCARTY

News staff writer

February 21, 2007

Even though his team did not come away with a state championship, Hood River Valley wrestling coach Rich Polkinghorn could not be disappointed with his team’s effort.

Alex Titus took second place in the 285-pound division, while Sean Baker, after losing his first match, advanced to the consolation finals at 130 pounds and wound up with fourth place. The Eagles, which qualified seven wrestlers for the first-ever Oregon 6A state competition, finished in 15th place as a team, with a score of 47.0

“To take 15th at state with a school of 1,100 people is pretty good,” Polkinghorn said. “The tradition of wresting at Hood River Valley is great.”

Roseburg won the 6A team championship, as well as individual titles in three weight classifications.

It was a disappointing end to an otherwise spectacular tournament performance by Titus, who defeated Oregon City’s Scott Shugert in double overtime to advance to the championship match.

In the championship, Titus appeared to have much of the momentum in the first round of the match, but at the opening of the second round, Milwaukie’s Jimmy Haman was able to pry Titus out of his “down” position, and flip into his shoulders, a move that Titus could not escape from.

After wrestling Shugert for eight minutes to earn the right to battle for the title, the championship match lasted two minutes 25 seconds.

“I just got caught and he was strong enough so that I just couldn’t get out,” Titus said.

After the first day of competition, Titus and Baker were the only two Hood River wrestlers remaining in the tournament, but both notched themselves small parts in Hood River history with their performances over the remainder of the tournament.

Titus became the second Hood River heavyweight to place at state, following Jimmy Donnelly, who won the state title in 1995; and Sean Baker became the second Hood River sophomore to place at state, following in the footsteps of Doug DeHart, who took fourth place at 145 pounds in 1988.

Even though his Hood River wrestling career ended on a down note, don’t expect to find Titus moping for long.

He will now be focusing on concluding his senior year and getting ready for college.

He has applied to both Stanford and the University of Puget Sound and expects to wrestle collegiately wherever he ends up.

Polkinghorn, for one, will be sad to see him go.

“It’s a tough way for Alex to end,” he said. “He’s been a stud for us and the hardest worker in the room.”

In the past several years, Polkinghorn has seen the team make dramatic improvements and is confident that the team will be bouncing back next year.

“Four returning state qualifiers is a lot to grow on,” he said.

Baker will headline that group of of returners for the Eagles next season.

Despite the loss in championship, Titus gave Hood River wrestling fans one to remember with his dual with Shugert in the Friday night semi-final.

As the wrestlers battled into overtime tied at 2-2, they were the only wrestlers left on the mat for the evening.

Titus barely avoiding falling behind in the first overtime when Shugert took him down, but could not stay in bounds.

In the first 30 seconds of the second overtime, Titus was able to escape from Shugert’s grip from the bottom position to get two escape points that Shugert could not match in the second portion of the overtime.

The same move would not work again in the championship, but Titus was content with what he accomplished in the tournament.

“I had fun,” he said. “I think I wrestled pretty well and I’m satisfied.”

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