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Fortune dominates again

by: Vern Uyetake, 
Tyrell Fortune nears a pin at the state wrestling meet held at the Memorial Coliseum last week. Fortune hasn’t truly been tested by an in-state opponent all year and made quick work of all of his matches this year. Fortune won each match by a pin en route to a second state title at 215 pounds.

The city of Lake Oswego has seen its share of superior athletes in recent years. Names like Kevin Love, Jillian Harmon, Mike Stutes and Mandy White are a few of the superstars that quickly come to mind. Now, it's time to make room on that lofty pedestal for Lakeridge's Tyrell Fortune.

By himself, Fortune would have been worth the price of admission at last weekend's state wrestling tournament. Fortune not only dominated his four opponents at state, he tossed them around the mat like they were ragged dolls. And we're talking about 215-pound athletes who were rugged wrestlers against all of the other competitors they faced.

Even before he showed up at the state meet, it was a foregone conclusion that Fortune would win the 6A 215-pound title. The best indication of his prowess was the fact that he was ranked No. 1 in the nation at that weight, which was based partly on the 5A title he won last year.

During the regular season, while working his way down to his normal wrestling weight, Fortune competed in the heavyweight division but no one there provided him with much competition. To keep himself focused, the Lakeridge senior made it his goal to go through the season without being scored upon.

He was certainly capable of making that happen, but Fortune's final two opponents in the tournament came prepared with solid game plans, and both of them actually scored points against the favored wrestler. But those opponents only succeeded in making Fortune mad, and both foes wound up getting pinned before the end of the second round. The last pin resulted in his second consecutive state championship.

Throughout the season, Fortune provided the kind of domination rarely seen at one of the upper weights. Typically, the most dominating performances are reserved for the lighter weights, where someone with superior strength and quickness will stand a better chance of pushing an opponent around. At the upper weights, matches often resemble two rams smashing their horns together.

But Fortune wrestled with the finesse of a lightweight and the power of a Roman gladiator.

His demonstrations were truly a sight to behold, unless, of course, you were one of his opponents.

After beating Hood River Valley's Joe Johnson in the Saturday's title match, Fortune was swarmed by fans, autograph seekers and gawkers who simply wanted to get a close-up glimpse of a real-life Hercules.

The Johnson match, which ended with a pin at the 3:53 mark, and the semifinal match against Gresham's Wyatt DeRemer, which ended at 3:24, were the only times this season that Fortune had to break a sweat.

'Most of my matches, the opponents haven't pushed me that hard, and they usually ended in the first round,' Fortune said matter-of-factly.

Fortune's quickest pin of the season took only 11 seconds. It was over so quickly he can't even remember who the opponent was.

In the Three Rivers League district tournament, his opening match against Christian Cubbage of West Linn took just 17 seconds. The three pins he got in that tournament came in a combined total of just over a minute.

Most people who have followed Fortune this season figured he would string together four more quick pins at the state tournament.

And he lived up to his advance billing by pinning his opening opponent, Kevin North of Newberg, in 35 seconds. Round two brought a 49-second pin against Tyler Steele of West Salem.

But the match against DeRemer wouldn't be quite so easy. Fortune got a quick takedown to start the match, but DeRemer escaped just as quickly.

That's something that hadn't happened to Fortune all year. A short time later, Fortune came up with a takedown that carried so much momentum that he wound up somersaulting over his opponent.

That left an opening that DeRemer not only turned into a takedown, but also a possible pinning situation.

'He was a lot more slippery than I thought he would be,' Fortune said of DeRemer. 'I was probably a little too aggressive and I wound up getting caught.'

It hardly mattered, though. Fortune responded by simply bench-pressing his opponent out of the way as though he were a barbell that contained no weights.

At that point, Fortune decided it was time to take control of the match. His next move was to lift DeRemer horizontally, about four feet off the mat, and slam him back to the floor. The impact echoed through Memorial Coliseum and seemed to leave DeRemer stunned.

But DeRemer was tough and he refused to fold. Yet, Fortune was able to finish off the match with a forward-facing bear hug (or a body lock), which he used to hoist DeRemer airborne again, this time for a heave over Fortune's left shoulder. The fall brought Fortune full-force down on top of his opponent. At that point, a pin was inevitable.

In the championship match, Fortune opened with a cautious approach as he waited to see what type of strategy Johnson would employ.

Fortune still got the opening takedown but Johnson, who was ranked No. 2 in the state, quickly escaped to make it 2-all.

'I get really frustrated when people score on me,' Fortune would say later. 'I don't like when people score on me at all.'

After studying Johnson's moves, Fortune began to take control.

He led 6-2 through the first round, and then he started picking up easy takedowns in the second.

The takedowns were coming so easily that Fortune opted to release Johnson each time. He made it look as if he was going for a technical fall, which is a 15-point decision.

But Fortune was really just looking for his opening.

He finally got it late in the second round when he used an arm bar to get Johnson onto his back, which led to an immediate pin.

'(Earlier), he was keeping a good base, so I didn't want to work too hard to try to get him turned,' Fortune said. 'Plus, he was just sitting there waiting for a reversal, so I didn't want to put myself in a bad position.'

'I think that was first match this season where Tyrell didn't score on a double-leg takedown,' Lakeridge coach Bret Stamper observed. 'That was (the opponent's) strategy, to stop the double-leg…. In the semifinals, it was under-hook and try to throw over the top. And in this match, he was kind of wrestling from the knees.'

As most wrestling fans know, Fortune, along with his twin brother Tyree, transferred to Lakeridge from Parkrose before the beginning of the school year.

There were many people from other schools who immediately cried foul, saying there must have been some shenanigans involved in order to get the two to transfer to a school that didn't have much of a wrestling tradition.

But Tyrell says everything was above board.

He said and his brother made the decision to move, along with input from their mother and his wrestling mentor, Roy Pittman.

'It was one of the best decisions I've made in my life,' Fortune said of his decision to move to Lakeridge. 'I got a better education and better support behind me.'

Once he got to Lakeridge, everyone saw that Tyrell was not only a strong wrestler, but a gentleman and a leader as well.

He wanted to do whatever it took to help turn Lakeridge's wrestling fortunes in the other direction.

'I wanted to help make my team better,' he said. 'I wanted to make sure I put in my contribution.'

Even though he was a champion last year as well, Fortune has made an immense amount of improvement since then. And Stamper thinks the sky is the limit for Fortune.

'I've seen a lot of great wrestlers and (Fortune) is right up there with all of them,' the coach said. 'I follow a lot of college wrestling, so it would be great to see him one day wrestling on TV.'