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 Jefferson’s 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 Salem’s Harrison Hunt by one point late in the championship match, but he got caught in a scramble and was pinned with three seconds left.

“Cody’s 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.

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