Wrestling: Tualatin battles its way to a 45-28 win over the Tigers in the rivals' match
by: DAN BROOD YES — Tualatin junior Max Houston celebrates following his victory in the 126-pound match during the Wolves' dual with Tigard.

KEIZER - When the Tigard and Tualatin high school wrestling teams match up, there's one thing that's for certain.

It's going to be a battle.

Match after match.

Round after round.

It's going to be battle after battle.

That's exactly what happened when the rivals faced off last Thursday. Wrestlers on both teams seemingly gave it their all - with some extra motivation. And, when it was all said and done, the Timberwolves came out on top by a 45-28 margin in the Special District 3 double dual match held at McNary High School.

'It's huge for us,' said Tualatin junior Max Houston, who won by pin in the 126-pound match. 'Every year against Tigard it's a battle. It's a pretty intense. This is what we love.'

'It's a huge win. It's phenomenal,' said Tualatin senior Conner Cheel, who triumphed in the 195-pound match. 'When you have competition between two teams like this, it makes it more fun. Tonight, a lot of us went up a weight. We showed a lot of heart and endurance.'

The match marked the first Pacific Conference dual meet for both the Tigers and Timberwolves. Tigard, like Tualatin, seemed to bring some extra intensity to the match.

'I was a lot more fired up,' said Tigard senior Ian Rogers, who won at 106 pounds. 'It's my senior year and we've never beaten Tualatin in a dual since I've been here.'

'I felt like we did good,' Tigard senior Andy Pin said. 'We're still a new team.'

Tigard took the early lead in last week's match. In the opening bout, the 138-pound match, Tigard senior Mauricio Molina won by pin in a time of 2 minutes and 54 seconds to give the Tigers a quick 6-0 lead in the team score.

In the 145-pound match, Tualatin sophomore John Whitaker scored a hard-fought 1-0 decision win over Tigard junior Mark Hall to cut the lead to 6-3. Whitaker scored the only point of the match with an escape coming 1:00 into the second round.

At 152 pounds, Tigard senior Brandon Dettra, wrestling for the first time this season, notched a 9-4 decision win to up the Tigard lead to 9-3.

Pin then upped the margin to 15-3 by pinning Tualatin's Sean Blice in 5:20 in the 160-pound match. Pin hopes the victory is a sign of good things to come for him this year.

'I'm hoping for first in state,' said Pin, who placed fourth at state at 152 pounds last year. 'All the way.'

Tualatin, starting at 170 pounds, came storming back in a big way. The Wolves cut the lead to 15-9 when junior Brandon Abbey won by fall in a time of 50 seconds at 170.

Then, at 182 pounds, Timberwolf junior Kage Wabaunsee won by pin in 3:27 to tie up the team score at 15-15.

Tualatin then took its first lead of the night, at 21-15, when Cheel pinned Tigard's Alex Anokhin in 4:33 in the 195-pound match.

'I went up a class in weight and I had a hard time keeping him down,' Cheel said. 'I think it came down to endurance and really wanting it.'

'Conner Cheel has been wrestling so smart,' Tualatin coach Matt Hamilton said.

The Wolves kept on rolling from there.

At 220 pounds, Tualatin junior Dane Simonsen won by pin in a time of 1:16.

Tigard stopped the Wolves' run at 285 pounds, where Tiger senior Erick Franco notched a hard-fought 7-4 decision win over Tualatin junior Cody Summers, making the score 27-18.

Tigard then cut the lead to 27-22 after Rogers scored a 14-2 major decision victory at 106 pounds. Rogers, like Pin, has high hopes this season.

'My dream since last year has been to win state,' he said. 'I think it will happen.'

Tualatin came back to up the lead to 33-22 after Mathieu Gleason won by fall in 0:49 in the 113-pound match.

Tigard answered back at 120 pounds, where first-year wrestler Kalimen Pabro won ball pin in 1:26, cutting the Tualatin lead to 33-28 with two matches remaining.

But Tualatin wrapped up the team victory when Houston pinned Zack Vollstedt in 3:57 in the 126-pound bout. The match went back and forth, with Vollstedt taking a 4-1 lead after scoring on a reversal with 1:08 left in the second round. But Houston came back with an escape and takedown before getting the pin with just 3 seconds left in the second round.

'I knew he was tough and he had beaten me before,' Houston said. 'But I just went out there and (gave it everything I had). I was stoked. It felt really good to get the win. I knew I had to help the team.'

Sophomore Blake Reser capped off the team victory for the Wolves, winning by fall in 1:23 at 132 pounds to make the final score 45-28.

'The kids wrestled with heart,' Hamilton said. 'We gambled by moved a lot of guys up a weight and won. They have a good lineup and we couldn't give up a forfeit. Going up against Tigard, we had easy motivation tonight.'

'We're acting like a team,' Cheel said. 'We all pick each other up.'

'Everyone is putting in the effort and everyone is getting better,' Houston said.

'It was good,' Tigard coach Geoff Jarman said of the match. 'The rivalry is still there. But we've got to catch our fire again.'

Earlier in the night, Tualatin fell 44-24 to McNary and Tigard lost to Sprague.

The Tigers bounced back in a big way, taking first place at the West Salem Titan Classic, held Saturday at West Salem High School.

Tigard claimed the top spot at the eight-team tournament with 237 points. Sprague was second at 234.5.

Rogers claimed the tourney championship at 106 pounds. Pin was second at 160 pounds, senior Cale Holt was second at 182 and Franco was second at 285.

The Tigers and Timberwolves will both return to action at the NW Duals, which will be held Wednesday and next Thursday at Westview High School and Five Oaks Middle School.