TRIBUNE PHOTO: STEVE BRANDON - Cleveland High's PIL district champion wrestling team and coaches receive their first-place trophy Saturday at Franklin.The Cleveland Warriors took down all challengers — again — in the Portland Interscholastic League district wrestling meet last weekend.

The Warriors dominated the two-day competition at Franklin High and won the PIL district title for the fifth year in a row.

Cleveland also has won five straight PIL dual-meet crowns.

The Warriors were undefeated in league dual matches this season, and they piled up the points at district to win handily. Cleveland finished with 361 points. Franklin was second with 258. Jefferson (250) edged Roosevelt (209 1/2) for third.

The Warriors entered the tourney with five No. 1 seeds. They wound up with seven league champions — winning half the weight classes.

Cleveland also had three second-place finishers and will send two other, third-place wrestlers to state as well, for a team total of 12 boys headed to Memorial Coliseum for the Oregon School Activities Association championships Feb. 26-27.

The Warriors’ secret?

There isn’t one, says veteran coach Jeff Zerba.

“We work hard. And it pays off,” he says.

It paid off in Saturday’s PIL semifinals and finals. No. 2 seed Skyler Palakiko (170 pounds) and a No. 3 seed, junior Evan Kane (138), joined five top seeds for Cleveland on the winners’ stand. Palakiko fought off Roosevelt senior Harlem Atwood-Fitzgerald, the defending champ, 8-6 in the final. Kane pinned No. 2 seed Nicholas Hoffman, a Lincoln sophomore, in the semis and then decisioned Benson senior Daniel Jackson 10-7 for his title.

The No. 1 seeds who prevailed for Cleveland: junior Klo Lwae (106), senior Junpei Hunt (120), junior Simon Brown (126), senior Jake Morrison (182) and senior Isaac James (220).

Morrison is a relative newcomer who has made a huge transformation, Zerba notes. Morrison won his first match, ever, last year, when he was wrestling at 220. “That kid has made a miraculous turnaround,” Zerba says. “He’s lost 60 pounds, just wrestling, played football for the first time last season, and just discovered that he likes to wrestle.”

The Warriors almost got two more titles on Saturday.

At 132 pounds, junior Harper Lee, the No. 2 seed, battled No. 1 seed and defending champion Mathew Cardwell, a Franklin senior, until the final two seconds of overtime. Cardwell just managed to get a takedown for a 2-0 victory.

And, at 113 pounds, Cleveland freshman Dominic Zupo, a No. 2 seed, made it to the finals before losing by fall to No. 1 Austin Schulz, a junior at Roosevelt.

Also placing second for Cleveland: sophomore Austin Kemper, who took on teammate Hunt in the 120-pound championship match.

Taking third for the Warriors: freshmen Saw Chan (113) and Jontae Hardaway (106).

Lwae, Hunt and Brown give the Warriors state-quality entries in the lower weights. Brown was fifth in Class 6A last year.

“We knew those guys would have to come prepared to win, but we felt good about their chances,” Zerba says of the trio’s performance at district. “Now we’ll see what we can do in the next couple of weeks. We’ve got several guys who can go to state and compete.”

Last year, Cleveland won the PIL district meet with 338 1/2 points, with Franklin second at 265 1/2.

The Warriors came through again despite some personnel losses and a key injury to Nathan Thai, who was third at 195 in 2015 but suffered a torn ACL this year.

“We do go out and recruit the hallways, and we hit the P.E. classes, trying to get kids to buy into the sport, but really it comes down to having guys who put in the work,” Zerba says. “We had a really young group this year, so we had some growing pains earlier in the year. So I’m really pleased with what we were able to accomplish.”

Palakiko had won in 2015 at 160. Brown won a year ago at 113.

Jefferson dominated in the middle weights again with its power duo of Jasiah Williams and Terrell “Ray Ray” West. Both had won PIL titles, and both cruised again this year.

Williams, a senior, pinned all three of his opponents at 145, raising his season record to 22-0. He’s placed second, second and third at state. West had two pins and a technical fall at 152 at district. A junior, West is 26-1 this season.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: STEVE BRANDON - Twelve Cleveland Warriors who qualified for the Class 6A wrestling tournament celebrate after the PIL district meet Saturday at Franklin.



Feb. 12-13, at Franklin High

(top three to state)


Cleveland 361

Franklin 258

Jefferson 250

Roosevelt 209 1/2

Lincoln 164 1/2

Wilson 159

Benson 125 1/2

Grant 67

Madison 48



Final: Klo Lwae, Cleveland, pinned Felipe Mateo, Jefferson, 1:05

3rd: Jontae Hardaway, Cleveland, def. Cameron Tindell, Wilson, 11-7

5th: Cai Pai Varinta, Jefferson, pinned Maurice Senter, Franklin, 4:22


Final: Austin Schulz, Roosevelt, pinned Dominic Zupo, Cleveland, 1:04

3rd: Saw Chan, Cleveland, pinned Josh Guzman, Roosevelt, 1:24

5th: Daniel Mugisha, Jefferson, won by forfeit over Kahedja Burley, Jefferson


Final: Junpei Hunt, Cleveland, pinned Aaron Kemper, Cleveland, 4:27

3rd: Tyler Rodriguez, Roosevelt, pinned Jude Soldati, Lincoln, 2:51

5th: Sam Gaddie, Lincoln, pinned Miguel Crespo, Franklin, 1:27


Final: Simon Brown, Cleveland, won by technical fall over Victor Govea, Roosevelt, 17-1

3rd: Garrett Van Doren, Lincoln, pinned Lwe Say, Cleveland, 1:08

5th: Tariq Armstrachan, Jefferson, won by forfeit over Eduardo Obispo, Benson


Final: Mathew Cardwell, Franklin, def. Harper Lee, Cleveland, 2-0, SV-1

3rd: Kaleanahe Slaughter, Roosevelt, pinned Jake Poole, Lincoln, 3:37

5th: Ehk` Nyaw, Franklin, pinned Noland Motes, Wilson, 5:54


Final: Evan Kane, Cleveland, def. Daniel Jackson, Benson, 10-7

3rd: Nicholas Hofmann, Lincoln, pinned Soren Kennedy, Cleveland, 3:40

5th: Branden Cardwell, Franklin, pinned Xavier Hartley, Jefferson, 2:27


Final: Jasiah Williams, Jefferson, won by technical fall over Naaman Yarbrough, Jefferson, 16-1

3rd: Jake Hudson, Grant, pinned Anthony Wilson, Franklin, 5:31

5th: Daniel Negru, Franklin, pinned Alexander Kuhn, Benson, 1:21


Final: Terrell West, Jefferson, pinned Jose Gonzalez, Jefferson, 5:06

3rd: Andrew Porter, Lincoln, def. Jack Williams, Wilson, 12-10

5th: Chase Howard, Wilson, pinned Ethan Amrine, Franklin, 3:52


Final: Navene Binder, Franklin, pinned Gage Halverson, Lincoln, 2:58

3rd: Louis Ruberstein, Wilson, pinned Emilio Ramos, Jefferson, 1:31

5th: Gabe Mortensen, Franklin, pinned Austin Gutierrez, Lincoln, 5:10


Final: Skyler Palakiko, Cleveland, def. Harlem Atwood-Fitzgerald, Roosevelt, 8-6

3rd: Tun Way, Franklin, pinned David Wallberg, Benson, 1:02

5th: William Duffy, Lincoln, won by technical fall over Tanguy Bader, Cleveland, 19-4


Final: Jake Morrison, Cleveland, pinned Javondre Cole, Jefferson, 6:00

3rd: Shaun McManus, Grant, def. Bao Le, Franklin, 4-2

5th: Wyatt Gilderson, Benson, pinned Nathaniel McCoy, Franklin, 1:06


Final: Steffen Jacobsen, Wilson, won by MD over Chris Caudillo, Benson, 14-5

3rd: Harrison Keefer, Lincoln, def. James Merrifield, Franklin, 6-5

5th: Edward Cooper, Madison, won by inury over Chaz Chiles, Madison


Final: Isaac James, Cleveland, pinned Melipone Aisea, Roosevelt, 1:24

3rd: Erwin Jacob, Benson, pinned Hunter Brooks, Wilson, 1:44

5th: Andrew Hoach, Roosevelt, pinned Dakota Allsop, Franklin, :33


Final: Markus Downs, Wilson, pinned Jordan Jancovic, Franklin, 3:02

3rd: Haini Taka, Roosevelt, pinned Abdi Hassan, Madison, 2:20

5th: Klaus Talanoa, Roosevelt, pinned Rory Sullivan, Madison, 2:25

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