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Young and hungry Eagle send ten wrestlers to state

February 22, 2012

Brandon Dominguez spent only about seven minutes doing any actual wrestling over the weekend.

That was all the time he needed to put him on top of the podium in the 285-pound division and headline a group of 10 male Hood River Valley wrestlers going to the state wrestling championships at Memorial Coliseum in Portland this Friday and Saturday.

Dominguez blew through the 285-pound bracket at the 5A Region 2 special district qualifier at the Marshall Campus in Portland. It didn't matter whether Dominguez was facing wrestlers from the Portland Interscholastic League or the Columbia River Conference, the two leagues making up the special district, Dominguez went through all opponents with relative ease.

Dominguez's rampage through the heavyweight bracket helped the Eagles overtake Cleveland and get third as a team. The Columbia River Conference went 1-2-3 atop the team standings at the meet, with Hermiston and Pendleton taking the top spots.

Dominguez won his opening round match over Andre Ustach of Franklin in 21 seconds. His second-round match against Storm Hensinger of Wilson took even less time, just nine seconds.

Sean Van Pelt of Pendleton managed to last the longest of any opponent, actually making to the third round before succumbing to a pin at the 4:38 mark.

In the finals, Dominguez faced Jalean Webb of Jefferson, who had also made quick work of his opponents, winning his two matches in a combined time of 2:30. Something had to give, and it gave in the HRV junior's favor. Dominguez did not let Webb see the second round, pinning him in 1:40.

Ultimately Dominguez pinned four opponents in a total of 6 minutes, 48 seconds.

"My plan was to go on offense early," Dominguez said. "I was just going to push them and see what I could get."

Joining Dominguez will be sophomore Andrew DeHart, who placed third at 132 pounds; sophomore Cesar Zarate, second at 145 pounds; sophomore Nic Kavanaugh, fourth at 145 pounds; junior David Brunk, third at 152 pounds; sophomore Forrest Broddie, third at 160 pounds; junior Nick Morgan, second at 182 pounds; junior Ramon Ramirez, fourth at 195 pounds; junior Juan Karlos Hernandez, second at 220 pounds and sophomore Jeremy Breedlove, third at 220 pounds.

"I'm pretty proud of how we wrestled as a team," Morgan said.

"It really shows how much we've improved," added Zarate.

Freshman Jessica DeHart and seniors Katie Eddy and Franny Ybarra also qualified for the girls state championships, which will be decided Saturday at the Coliseum.

Do the math and that adds up to 11 state qualifiers who will return for the Eagles next season, and that means that while the Eagles have lofty goals for this tournament, they also expect to continue a run of excellence for years to come.

"We're excited," said Kroll. "We've got to beat some guys we've lost to this year. Our schedule has allowed us to see a lot of these teams before. We are going to be ready; we don't just cross our fingers and hope we do well."

The top four wrestlers in each weight class at the special district tournament qualified for the 16-man bracket this weekend.

In addition to the state qualifiers, the Eagles went four-for-four in fifth-sixth place matches, with Junior Rojas taking fifth at 138 pounds, Eddy at 120 pounds, James Estes at 113 pounds and Chaz Peterson at 132 pounds.

At one point during the Saturday afternoon consolation semifinals the Eagles sent three wrestlers through to state nearly simultaneously.

On one mat Broddie went through three overtimes to beat Kyle Hammond of Cleveland 2-1. Seconds later, one mat over, Ramirez held on for a 3-2 win over Bubba Villareal of Wilson. While his two teammates were wrestling, Breedlove took the mat against Tillo Regaldo of The Dalles-Wahtonka, and moments after the other two matches held off a late charge by the TDW wrestler to win 6-4.

Seven of the 10 Eagle boys wrestlers are making their first trip to state, as is Jessica DeHart.

"I'm really looking forward to it," DeHart said. She qualified for the girls state tournament during the Elks Memorial Tournament earlier this month.

While Dominguez was the only HRV wrestler to come out of the special district tournament with a district championship, the losses in the championship finals provided extra motivation for the rest of the team.

"I've pinned that guy before," said Juan Karlos Hernandez of finals opponent Andy Morrison of Cleveland, who beat Hernandez 3-1 in overtime. "Now I know what I need to do."

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