Photo by Adam Lapierre.
Juan Karlos Hernandez has his arms raised in victory after winning a preliminary round match at the 2013 Special district II wrestling championships. Hernandez took second place in the 200 pound weight class.
The Hood River Valley wrestling team is sending 13 wrestlers to the state tournament this weekend, and for the 11 boys who qualified at last week’s district tournament, they will all have a chip on their shoulder.
The Eagles took second as a team to league rival Hermiston in the Special District II (combination of Columbia River Conference and Portland Interscholastic Conference) tournament at Marshall High School. For the first time in a long time, the Eagles did not have an individual district champion, despite sending six wrestlers to the finals.
The closest the team came to a district title came when Nick Morgan faced off against Keegan Hammond of Cleveland at 182 pounds. Hammond had beat Morgan for the district title the year before and managed to repeat the feat in somewhat controversial fashion.
Hammond scored two takedown points which came, depending on which side of the argument you believe, just outside or just inside the edge of the mat, with 1:13 remaining in the match.
HRV coach Trent Kroll argued the call profusely, but to no avail.
The takedown put Hammond up by four points at the time, and while Morgan eventually closed to within one point, Hammond was able to take on an escape point in the closing seconds and win 8-6.
The Eagles took another nail biting loss at 220 pounds when Juan Karlos Hernandez faced Caleb Batease of Hermiston.
Hernandez was not able to establish any momentum in his favor and Batease managed to hold off the HRV grappler for a 3-2 victory.
“Those last two matches very well could be state finals matches,” Kroll said after the tournament.
Even though the Eagles did not win a title, Kroll said he still came away impressed with how his team competed and was sure they would be extra motivated in practice this week.
“We put ourselves in position to win some titles,” he said.
In addition to Morgan and Hernandez, also going to state will be Christian Marquez (second place, 120 pounds), Texx Spezia-Swiff (fourth place, 126 pounds), Andrew DeHart (second place, 138 pounds), Chas Peterson (fourth place, 138 pounds), Cesar Zarate (second place, 145 pounds), Junior Rojas (fourth place, 145 pounds), Jeremy Fischer (second place, 152 pounds), Ramon Ramirez (third place, 195 pounds) and Tyler Wilson (fourth place, 195 pounds).
Other placers for the Eagles included Kyle Wiseman taking fifth at 152 pounds and Jeremy Breedlove taking sixth at 285 pounds.
Of the group of 11 state qualifiers only four are seniors and seven of the qualifiers are making their first trip to state.
“It’s a pretty young group,” Kroll said.
The 11 male qualifiers will be joined be two female wrestlers who qualified for the girls state championships this Saturday, Jessica DeHart and Payton Rigert.
The state meet runs Friday through Saturday at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, and Kroll said his young group of qualifiers is going in ready to do some damage.
“Our goal was to get to state and then to get state placers,” he said. “District titles are icing on the cake.”