Southridge battles tough teams to finish third in their Saturday home tournament
BEAVERTON - The temperatures outside were cold but the wrestling inside was hot at Saturday's annual Southridge Invitational Tournament.
The Skyhawks, matched up against several of the state's top teams - including Century, Oregon City and Gresham - battled to third place in the seven-team field and crowned two tournament champions along the way.
More importantly, the tournament provided an important building block as the Skyhawks continue preparation for the upcoming Metro League District Tournament, set for Feb. 8-9 at Aloha High School.
'It was our first bracketed tournament since North Bend (in mid-December) so that was good as far as helping get us prepared for district,' said Southridge coach Erik Reinholt. 'We got third, which was good, and we know what we can work on. We know what our JV guys need to work on to be ready for district.'
Former Metro League foe Century - now a Class 5A member of the Northwest Oregon Conference -won the tournament with 268.5 points, while Oregon City was second at 236 and Southridge third at 225. Gresham was fourth at 218, followed by Hood River at 206.5, West Albany at 152.5 and short-handed Canby at 137.
Leading the Skyhawks' success on Saturday were four wrestlers who won berths in the championship finals of their respective weight divisions, including tournament champions Rory Gokan and Jonathan Welling, and runners-up Andy Gaul and A.J. Johnson.
Gokan, a senior and two-time Metro League champion, set the pace at 119 pounds Saturday, going undefeated in his weight class and winning his final match by fall.
'He wrestled really solid,' Reinholt said.
Welling, another senior, was a bit more of a surprise in his victory at 140. Like Gokan, he ran through his bracket without a loss, then capped his tournament by pinning his Hood River opponent in the championship match.
'That was really nice for him,' Reinholt said. 'We were hoping he'd make the finals, but then he went out and turned the Hood River kid he wrestled in the finals. He got an arm bar on him, turned him and pinned him in the first round.'
Gaul, a senior, battled to second place at 145 pounds while Johnson, a junior, was also second at 285.
'Obviously, it was pretty good,' Reinholt said. 'Oregon City is really 'up' this year, and we weren't too far off their score.'
The Skyhawks (2-0 in Metro competition) now look ahead to their final league match - at Westview at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday - and the stretch run to the district tournament and state.
'Almost anything can happen at district, which is weird,' Reinholt said. 'Sunset, if they just wrestle the way they can and just place a lot of their JV guys, should win. I really like what Brian (Sullivan) is doing over there.'
The Skyhawks wrestle in the South Albany Invitational at 10 a.m. Saturday, then visit Westview on Wednesday to close out the Metro League's regular season.