Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Warriors battle to 10th at state wrestling


Aloha sends five wrestlers to the podium at state

by: MILES VANCE - WARRIOR VS. WARRIOR - Aloha senior Johnny Krahel (left) has his hand raised in victory after beating teammate Joey Williams 8-7 to secure fifth place at 152 pounds in the Class 6A state tournament at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.

PORTLAND — The first day of the 2013 Class 6A state wrestling tournament could not, frankly, have gone much better for Aloha.

After Friday’s opening day at Memorial Coliseum, the Warriors sent three wrestlers into Saturday’s state semifinals and had another five still in the running for top-six finishes. Further, the Warriors sat in fifth place in the team standings and were poised for their best state finish in a very, very long time.

Saturday’s top-notch competition brought Aloha back to earth a bit on day two, but despite a handful of hard knocks, the Warriors still managed to finish 10th overall with 62 points. David Douglas won the team crown with 146 points, while Oregon City was second at 126.5 and Roseburg third with 120.

“Our goal was top-10 and trying for top-five,” said Aloha senior Johnny Krahel, who finished fifth at 152 pounds. “It felt good to come out with my team on the last day together, all of us coming out to achieve that top-10 goal.”

“It was the first time I can remember having eight wresters still in the tournament on Saturday and finishing with five state placers,” said Aloha coach Stuart Kearsley, whose team also finished 10th at state in 2010. “It was one of our best finishes in our program’s history.”

Freshman Cortez Rodelo played the biggest role in Aloha’s success, going 4-2 at 285 pounds to finish fourth overall. Rodelo opened his tournament with a 22-second pin of Crater’s Derrick Turituri in round one, then fell to Tualatin’s Cody Summers by fall in the quarterfinals.by: MILES VANCE - FABULOUS FRESHMAN - Aloha freshman Cortez Rodelo closes in on a pin of West Linn's Noah Bagley on Saturday at the state tournament.

Rodelo bounced back with three straight wins, pinning Glencoe’s Walker Rabon at 2:30, stopping West Linn’s Noah Bagley in just 33 seconds next, then beating teammate Mike Kluge — the second-seeded wrestler in the tournament — with a pin 33 seconds into the second round.

But then, facing Turituri a second time in the third/fourth-place match, Turituri stepped up to beat Rodelo 5-0 and grab third.

Seniors Krahel and Kluge did their parts too, each wrestling into the state semifinals, then battling back through consolation to finish fifth in their respective weight classes. Krahel started his tournament with back-to-back wins, first beating Newberg’s Zane Burgess 6-4, then edging past Barlow’s Spencer Barnett 3-1 to earn his spot in the semifinals.

There, however, he ran into eventual tournament champion Reed Van Anrooy of Roseburg and dropped a 13-3 major decision. Krahel fell again in his first consolation match, dropping a 3-2 decision to Canby’s Noel Hygelund, the eventual third-place finisher. Undeterred, he came back strong in the final match of his high school career to beat his longtime teammate and wrestling partner Joey Williams 8-7 to secure fifth.

“This match, I had something to prove, that I deserve to be where I was today and I just wanted to go out and prove it no matter who it was,” Krahel said. “Before I went out, I thought ‘It’s kind of ironic that the last person I’m going to wrestle is the person I’ve probably wrestled the most in my high school career.’”

Likewise, Kluge started fast at 285 pounds, pinning his first opponent, North Medford’s Avion Maloney, in just 19 seconds, then coming back in the quarterfinals to pin Tualatin’s Cody Summers midway through the second round.

Like Krahel, though, bad things awaited Kluge in the semifinals, in this case eventual tournament runner-up Wyatt Spears of Sheldon. After sparring with Spears most of the way through round one, Kluge got taken down with 55 second to go, then got pinned with 23 seconds remaining in the stanza.

Kluge lost again in his first consolation match, getting pinned by Rodelo 23 seconds into the second round, then finished strong to grab fifth, pinning Summers a second time in the second round.

“I am just proud of the hard work and dedication of our young men,” Kearsley said. “There are some seniors on this team that I am going to personally miss, and there are underclassman that I am happy we will have back next season.”

Williams was Aloha’s other placewinner after he took sixth at 152. He opened with a second-round pin of Newberg’s Matthew McCarthy, took out Hygelund 12-9 in the quarterfinals, then fell to JT Barnes of McMinnville 8-6 in his semifinal.

Williams then lost his next two matches to close out his tournament and career, falling 15-10 to West Salem’s Kris Bjornson, and then again to Krahel 8-7.

“The end-of-the-season success was due to great leadership and a competitive practice room led by wrestlers that came to compete everyday and accept nothing but each other’s best,” Kearsley added. “All 10 of our wrestlers competed well and came prepared to win matches.”

Also competing for Aloha at state were Maurice McSwain at 160 pounds (he went 3-2 at state), Ryan Schwartz at 132 (2-2), Ryan Papenfuhs at 220 (2-2), Brwa Khoshnaw at 195 (2-2), Casey Wight at 120 (1-2), and Joe Kovachevich at 182 (0-2).

To see a complete photo gallery from this event, please go to milesvance.exposuremanager.com.