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Wildcat wrestling hangs with Hillsboro

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview's Juan Garcia-Hernandez won his first match of the season, by pinning his Hillsboro opponent

Improvement can be measured in a number of ways.

A year ago, the Westview wrestling team was beaten decisively, 62-10, in a match that verified how much the Wildcats needed to polish and amend.

On Wednesday Dec. 18, in the long-awaited rematch with the Spartans the Wildcats competed their tails off and only lost, 43-27.

Last weekend at the Rose City Wrestling Championships, 285-pound Wildcat grappler Noah Spencer didn’t pick up any of the wins he expected to reap.

Against Hillsboro, Spencer recorded Westview’s fastest pin of the night, flattening Eduardo Casas in rapid fashion.

Before Wednesday, Juan Garcia-Hernandez had never won a varsity match, only to pin Jacob Schubmehl in 1:15 in the second match of the evening.

In its quest to move the rung of the Southwest Conference district, Westview’s overall upswing against one of the state’s preeminent programs was an affirmative stride toward team progress.

“I thought we battled,” said head coach Mike Delaney. “That’s the No. 2 team in the state. Last year we lost by more than 50, and tonight we only lost by 16. I’m okay with that. The kids have made a lot of progress. They’re working hard and believing in themselves.”

Familiarity with Hillsboro’s Matt Peterson helped Westview’s Joel Timmons win by a 7-1 decision in the 120-pound weight class.

Having grappled with Peterson four times last season, Timmons — a three time state tourney qualifier— said he was nervous because the Spartan could’ve pulled something new out of the bag, some foreign move Timmons had never experienced. But, the seasoned Wildcat wrestled keenly, kept his movement flowing and prevented Peterson from gaining a strong base.

“He’s a tough wrestler,” said Timmons of Peterson. “He’s one of those wrestlers that’s difficult to wrestle, so I was happy with my performance. I thought I wrestled solid. It was a good match. I wanted to get the win.”

138-pound sophomore David Escobar wrestled Eddie Kalamalu in middle school and at various instructional camps during the off-season. So, Escobar said he just had to remember what he did best versus Tozaki and stay strong to stop getting into “sloppy situations.” Escobar pinned Kalamalu in 1:04 to pick up six valuable team points for Westview.

“Winning keeps me going,” said Escobar. “I’m just wrestling every match one-by-one, and not trying to think of it as we have to wrestle a lot of schools, but just taking it one opponent at a time.”

As a sophomore wrestling at the high school level for the first time, Escobar’s attempting to show he can be a staple on the enhanced Wildcat roster.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview 285-pounder Noah Spencer pinned Hillsbro's Eduardo Casas in the first minute of the match last Wednesday for the win.

“Our team has improved so much this year,” said Escobar. “Last year, we didn’t do the best, but now we’re just such a solid team. We’re just getting better as it goes. We’re taking it step-by-step, team-by-team. We’re going for those Metro wins and trying to get champions all over the place. We want as many first-placers as we can get.”

Delaney said his lower weight wrestlers like Justin Parsons, Kiel Resnick, James Zeng, Timmons and Escobar compete and practice year-round together. The extra work is certainly starting to pay off. Parsons pinned Naoto Tozaki in the 132-pound match.

“They’re really starting to develop,” said Delaney. “I think only one of those kids was wrestling prior to high school, so that just shows they’ve been putting a lot of time in to get better and improve. They’re good workout partners in that room and they’re going to get better. They’re a good, competitive group.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview 106-pound wrestler Kiel Resnick grabs ahold of his Hillsboro opponent in the first period of Resnick's match last Wednesday.

Coming off a disappointing showing at the Rose City Wrestling Championships in which Spencer expected to place and came away empty, the 285-pound junior went into his Hillsboro match with something to prove. Working the head snap to see where Hillsboro’s Eduardo Casas was at mentally, Spencer waited for his chance to strike, and put away Casas with a first-period pin. For Spencer, who has means of being a regional champion in the heavyweight division, it was the perfect way to bounce back from the RCWR dissatisfaction.

“I knew I had to get those losses out of my mind,” said Spencer. “I had to focus on the two matches I have today. I knew I’d do my best if I worked on the things that I’m used to and comfortable with. I’m a fast-paced, keep my feet on the mat kind of guy. I want to try and take first in the Metro, and just do everything I can to be the best.”

Westview had lost seven straight matches to the powerful Spartans, who always seem to rule the medal stand and place in the top-three at the state tournament.

Yet, Spencer snapped the streak and gave the Wildcats new hope going into their next dual with Forest Grove. Both Elijah Himing (195 pounds) and Andy Schubert’s (220 pounds) matches were close and contending, though each lost by decision.

“If our team’s having a hard night, I try to end it on an exciting note,” said Spencer. “I’ve had a lot of people tell me the heavyweight match is one of the most exciting matches we have, so I like to keep it that way.”

Garcia-Hernandez started off the evening right, winning his first-ever varsity match with a pin over Jacob Schubmehl in 1:15 in the 113-pound square-off. To bag a resounding fall for a first triumph on the varsity stage, was something the sophomore said he’ll never forget.

“I was pretty excited,” said Garcia-Hernandez. “I had to cut weight, stay focused, and get the job done. I practiced hard the last week and it helped me today. I just pushed him over, got him in a half (Nelson) and pinned him. My confidence just went way up. I’m going for the pin every time.”

A young team last year that graduated 10 seniors from its 2011 varsity lineup, the Wildcats trained and stayed together, even wearing out Delaney with their request to open the practice room up. Westview improved last year because of its dedication, and now they’re ready to rise up in the region.

“We’ve got some high expectations,” said Delaney. “We just want to give our best showing every time, keep getting better each week. I think come the conference tournament, we can be a team that’s right there. I have some pretty good hopes for this group.”



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