Vikings young wrestlers showing great potential
Forest Grove has a strong performance at the Titan Classic
After sweeping three non-league dual meets last Thursday, the Forest Grove wrestling team traveled south for the West Salem Titan Classic on Saturday and set a new program standard by advancing four wrestlers to the finals and getting a total of six top-three finishes.
Although only freshman Matthew Johnson won a tournament title pinning Jeffersons Hiag Brown to take first place at 120 pounds it was still a high-water mark for this young Forest Grove team, which is rebuilding after losing several of its top wrestlers from a year ago.
Although we had more finalists than we have had in a tournament in several years, our lack of experience showed in our overall performance, said Forest Grove head coach Frank Johnson. I was pleased that the guys competed well and that they are doing things in competition that we work on in practice, but we need to close a pretty big gap by the time postseason competition begins.
Seniors Ivan Mojica-Flores and Jake Kemper each wrestled well, but came up short in the finals. Mojica-Flores lost the 126-pound title to defending state champion Austin Wallace-Lister of Wilson, and Kemper missed out on the 152-pound crown with a loss to Justin Waldrop of North Salem.
Cody Smith came painfully close to capturing a tournament title at 145 pounds, leading West Salems Harrison Hunt by one point late in the championship match, but he got caught in a scramble and was pinned with three seconds left.
Codys match was a good example of why it is important to continue competing right up to the final whistle, Johnson said. In wrestling, when you let up, you often pay a price. Cody has the right attitude, so this will make him better.
Earlier in the week, the Viks defeated Lincoln, Grant and Westview in a three-way dual.