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Wolves battle to tourney title


Tualatin is taking high hopes into the 2012-2013 season

by: DAN BROOD - MAX EFFORT -- Tualatin High School senior Max Houston tries to pin down Liberty's Derrick Roy during a 132-pound semifinal match during Saturday's Tualatin Invitational. Houston got a 6-5 decision win. TUALATIN — It was their home tournament, so the Timberwolves were determined to make a good showing.

That motivation really paid off.

The Tualatin wrestling team, which found itself in third place going into the semifinal rounds of the tourney, stepped up in a really big way. The Wolves, coming up with win after win in the final bouts of the event, emerged victorious at the Tualatin Invitational, held Saturday at Tualatin High School.

“That was really good,” Tualatin coach Matt Hamilton said. “It was good to see them compete and go from being in third place to scraping in the semifinals and finals to get first.”

Tualatin took the top spot at the seven-team tournament by a slim margin. The Wolves placed first with 2951?„2 points, giving them a one-point edge over second-place Centennial, which had a score of 2941?„2. Liberty was third at 293.

“This is a big deal for us,” Tualatin senior Max Houston said following his 6-5 decision win over Liberty’s Derrick Roy in a tourney 132-pound semifinal match. “We want to do well here.”

Houston, like most of the other Tualatin wrestlers, battled hard at the home tournament, as he showed during his semifinal win over Roy.

“That was a tough match,” he said.

Houston wrestled up a weight class at the tournament (he usually will be at 126 pounds), and he also was dealing with a slight shoulder injury. He ended up placing second at the tourney at 132.

Meanwhile, the Wolves had four individual champions at the event.

Junior Jeff Whitaker placed first at 113 pounds. Junior Mathieu Gleason took the top spot at 126 pounds.

At 138 pound, Tualatin junior John Whitaker claimed first place.

In the 170-pound weight class, Timberwolf senior Kage Wabaunsee got a win over junior Franklin Giannone in an all-Tualatin championship match.

Besides Houston and Giannone, the Wolves had two other tourney runner-ups in junior Blake Reser, who took second at 145 pounds, and senior Kenny Walther, who was second at 220.

Tualatin freshman Alexey Blair was third at 126. Sophomore Kellen Poti was third at 182 and junior Bryan Soberanis-Perez was third at 220. Tualatin’s Calvin Sutton, wrestling for the Renegades team at the tournament, was third at 132.

Also for the Wolves, freshman Griffin Young was fifth at 132, senior Graye Norlin was fifth at 152, Phelan Alvarado and Ace Leben tied for fifth at 195 and senior Cody Summers was fifth at 285.by: DAN BROOD - TAKING CHARGE -- Tualatin junior Jeff Whitaker is in control of Centennial's Jorge Fuentes in a 113-pound semifinal match at Saturday's Tualatin Invitational. Whitaker won this match by a 9-5 decision and he went on to claim a tournament title.

“It was a good win against tough competition with Liberty and Centennial,” Hamilton said. “And it was nice to keep the trophy.”

Tualatin also wants to get in the habit of doing well in tournaments on its home mats, as the Wolves will be hosting the Special District 3 Regional Tournament in February.

“We want to get used to doing this,” Hamilton said.

Meanwhile, Tualatin is hoping the tournament championship is just the start of big things for the squad this season.

“We’re young, but we’re developing,” Houston said. “I think we can do really good this season. I think we can get a lot of wrestlers to state.”

“We’ll be pretty strong,” Hamilton said. “Dual-meet wise, we’ll probably have some holes in our line-up until the end of the year, but we should be solid all the way through.”

Tualatin has a strong group of returnees from last year’s squad that had a 4-5 record in District 3 dual matches and placed fifth at the regional tournament.

Among the returnees for the Wolves are five wrestlers who competed at last year’s Class 6A state tournament and two others who placed at the Special District 3 Regional Tournament.

Wabaunsee, who will wrestle at 170, looks to be one of the key returnees for the Wolves. Last year, he placed second at that weight at the regional tournament and he went on to win two of his four matches at the state tournament.

“He’s looking real good,” Hamilton said. “His work ethic is really good.”

John Whitaker, who will be at 132, should be another top competitor for the Wolves. Last year, he placed third at that weight at the regional tournament.

“He’s a machine in the wrestling room,” Hamilton said. “He just needs to relax and take that to the mat.”

Houston is another returning state competitor. He’ll be at 126, or 120, this year and he has high hopes for the season.

“I’m hoping to get in the top three at state,” he said.

Tualatin’s other two returning state returnees are Giannone, who will be at 160, and senior Dane Simonsen, who will be at 195, although, Simonsen is trying to recover from an injury he suffered near the end of the football season.

The Wolves will have Jeff Whitaker at 106 pounds. Gleason will be at 126. Reser will likely be competing at 132. He placed sixth at the regional tourney at 126 last year.

Senior Aleksey Milekhin will be at 138 pounds. Freshman Oliver Price and Norlin, a first-year wrestler, will be at 145 or 1523. Poti will be at 182. Junior Andy Collins will wrestle at 195. He also could see action at 220.

Summers and sophomore Garrison Saina will be at 285.

Tualatin opened its Special District 3 dual meet schedule by scoring a 55-15 win over South Salem in a match held last Thursday at South Salem High School.

The Wolves will be back in action tonight (Thursday) when they compete against McNary and Tigard in a Special District 3 double dual match to be held at Tigard High School. Tualatin will face McNary at 5 p.m. and then take on the rival Tigers at 7 p.m.