Joel Timmons said he had wrestled Oregon City senior Devin Poppen numerous times through elementary and middle school, their most recent match with in the seventh grade.

“I beat him then,” said the Westview senior, “but we went back and forth.”

Little did the evenly matched pair know that five years later they would be on the mat together again. This time the stakes were raised much higher in front of thousands of onlookers at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. On the line last Saturday, March 1, was the 2014 OSAA Class 6A 120-pound state wrestling championship.

Thanks in large part to a timely two-point reversal with 20 seconds left in the match, second seed Timmons came away with a dramatic 8-5 upset over the top-seeded Poppen.

“He got a little out of position and I found a way to grab his leg,” Timmons said about his reversal that came with the score 6-4 and the match result still hanging in the balance. I know he’s really tough on top so I wanted to stay away from that. My strength is on my feet.”

Timmons’ victory clinched the first-ever state title for the Wildcats’ 20-year wrestling program.

“It’s a pretty special feeling, kind of surreal,” he added. “It’s good for our program and the guys behind me.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview senior 120-pound Joel Timmons and head coach Matt Delaney worked together for four seasons  to put Timmons in position for his first state title.

Timmons took an early 2-0 lead over Poppen with a first-round takedown. He added two more takedowns in round two, but Poppen was able to pull off a reversal and an escape to make the score 6-3 heading into the final two minutes.

“(Timmons) deserves everything he got tonight,” said fourth-year Westview coach Mike Delaney. “I’m extremely excited for him. He’s a smart kid and executed his plan perfectly.”

Timmons, who finished the season with a nearly perfect 36-1 record said he definitely wants to wrestle next season. He is looking at Warner Pacific College in Portland, and both Simpson University (Redding) and Menlo College (Atherton) in California.

Timmons figured he could ride out Lake Oswego’s Caleb Gonzales for the rest of the 120-pound semifinal match, so all the Wildcat needed was an escape or reversal to get on the scoreboard. In the third period with 1:30 to go, Timmons grabbed Gonzales’ leg, lifted it and circled the Laker out for the two-point reversal.

“The round before I rode him for two minutes straight, so I liked my chances in the third,” said Timmons. “I was up two, so even if he had that escape, I had the lead and could fight him off.”

Then, Timmons put Gonzales in an unbreakable vice for the final 90 seconds to score the semifinal win and clinch a spot in the championship match.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview senior 120-pound Joel Timmons won the 6A state championship on Saturday, beating Oregon Citys David Poppen in a six-minute decision.

“I got my goal, but I gotta stay hungry for it,” said Timmons after the semifinal match. “It was just one more. That’s all I could think about. My goal wasn’t to get to the state finals, but to win it and be a state champion.”

Only one other Metro-League competitor, top-seeded Sunset junior Spencer Stokes (138 pounds), reached the finals Saturday.

Westview’s Noah Spencer won his first match in the 285-pound bracket, pinning North Salem’s Austin Shoopman just 15 seconds before the final buzzer of the third round.

“Starting the tournament off with a pin definitely sent my momentum soaring,” said Spencer. “It was a great feeling. Coming out I was a little nervous because there were so many people here. But, I just had to look past that and treat it like any other match.”

The junior lost his next two matches by decision, including a consolation match defeat to the heavyweight’s top seed Victor Ceja, but was nonetheless appreciative of the state stage.

“It was exciting just to be here and be in this kind of environment,” said Spencer. “Everybody is here for a reason and it’s because we’re the best where we come from. It’s a great feeling to know this is where it all ends.”

Battling a torn hamstring that hampered his ability to give it a full go, Southridge 220-pound grappler Tyler Cox still competed valiantly at state.

Cox ripped his hammy two weeks ago preparing for the regional tournament, but the senior wasn’t about to let an injury end his career. He wanted to go out on his terms, which made the sting of losing two matches easier to bare.

“I looked inside myself and wanted to be a good leader for the team,” said Cox. “It’s something I had to do. The coaches said I didn’t have to wrestle, but there was no way I wasn’t going to. It completed the wrestling experience as a whole. It was great just to be here and make it this far.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge 220-pound wrestler Tyler Cox shares an embrace with Skyhawk assistant coach Sean Dee after Coxs loss in the consolation round on Saturday.

Cox is as tough as they come mentally and physically, but even the big former offensive lineman said wrestling at the Coliseum was a tad nerve-wracking.

“Honestly I was kind of scared,” said Cox. “But, I’ve always done pretty well under pressure. I just had to go out there, compete, and wrestle like I know how to.”

Cox completed the season with more than 30 wins and said he enjoyed embracing his role as the Skyhawks’ captain and leader.

“I had a lot of fun,” said Cox. “We had a bunch of nice guys on the team who were all supportive. We brought five kids to state this year, which is the most in four years. We’re getting back to the old Southridge ways and what it’s all about. It’s been awesome to be a part of.”

Southridge junior 138-pound Nicholas Piwonka took third overall at state and 120-pound sophomore Bailey Hanthaley placed fifth on Saturday for the Skyhawks. The Skyhawks placed 20th overall with 32.5 points and was the league’s third highest team finisher.

“It feels great, especially in such a tough wrestling state like Oregon,” said Piwonka. “Wrestling on the biggest level, it just feels great to be out there to help my team out. We definitely have a good team and a bunch of good kids. I like our whole team and our coaches are great.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge 138-pounder Nicholas Piwonka came back through the consolation bracket to finish third for the Skyhawks at the 6A state championships.

Piwonka lost to second-seeded Blake Reser of Tualatin, 1-0, in the quarterfinals on Friday, but rebounded with three wins in the consolation bracket, including a 6-3 grudge match over Reser in the third-place round.

Piwonka took down Forest Grove’s Cody Smith, 10-5, to move on to the third place match.

“I really just kept moving my feet, and good things happened for me,” said Piwonka. “I wrestled (Smith) at regionals. He’s a great kid, but I knew what his moves were and how to control the match. Giving up points at the end of round has kind of been my achilles’ heel, but I stopped that and it turned out well. To see all the people around, your family and friends and go out and get the win is big.”

Freelancer Jeff Smith contributed to this story.

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