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Sherwood smacks Liberty as it preps for district tourney

by: DAN BROOD - READY TO ATTACK -- Sherwood High School junior Andrew Rice (right) looks to be ready for action during his match with Liberty's Hunter Dehlin. Rice is a No. 1 seed for this week's NWOC district tournament. HILLSBORO — The Sherwood High School wrestling team went into last Thursday’s match with Liberty looking to build some momentum for the upcoming Northwest Oregon Conference District Tournament.

Mission accomplished — in a very big way.

And, not only did the Bowmen gain their wanted momentum heading into the district event, but they also achieved something else in the process. They wrapped up sole possession of second place in the final NWOC standings.

They did all of that by romping to a 54-18 win over Liberty in a NWOC regular-season dual meet finale held at Liberty High School.

“This was good,” said Sherwood junior Nic Clarke, who won his 145-pound match by fall. “This was a great momentum-builder for district and it was also for second place. We worked hard for this.”

“We wanted to get some momentum to carry to district,” Sherwood junior Andrew Rice said. “And this will give us a big momentum boost.”

Liberty, which came into the match tied with Sherwood for second place in the league standings, finished the regular season with a final league record of 5-2. The Bowmen finished the season with a 6-1 NWOC record, putting them behind only unbeaten Sandy in the final league standings.

“That’s huge for us,” Rice said of the second-place finish. “That was a team goal.”

“This was a marquee win,” Sherwood coach William Taylor said. “Liberty has such a good program, so I’m very pleased, and it was nice to get momentum. These guys earned it. They got up at 5 a.m. every day this week to work extra hard.”

The Bowmen will now be looking to keep up their hard work as they get ready for the NWOC District Tournament, which will be held Friday and Saturday at Liberty High School.

“We’re looking forward to it and we’re going to work hard to get ready,” Clarke said. “I’m hoping to make it to finals and I think we can take first or second as a team.”

Rice is one of two Sherwood wrestlers to earn top seeds for the upcoming district tournament.

He holds the No. 1 spot in the 160-pound bracket. Bowmen junior Ryan Jurgens is the top seed at 195 pounds.

Earning No. 2 seeds for Sherwood at the district tourney are sophomore Tristan Bishop (106 pounds) and freshman Jessie Hatfield (113). Clarke is the No. 3 seed at 145

Getting No. 4 seeds for Sherwood were sophomore Alex Vazquez (120), sophomore Michael Coulter (126), senior Evan Castillo (145) and junior Corey Keohane (170).

The top four finishers in each weight class at the district tournament will advance to the Class 5A State Tournament, which will be held Feb. 22-23 at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum.

“I hope we can bring nine to state,” Rice said. “I want to get to finals at district. We’re confident right now.”

Sherwood’s performance at Liberty last Thursday likely helped that confidence.

The Bowmen got off to a fast start to the night. In the opening 106-pound match, Bishop needed just 40 seconds to pin Liberty’s Andres Gonzalez.

Hatfield, at 113 pounds, got an even quicker victory as he pinned Rodrigo Garcia in 25 seconds, giving Sherwood a quick 12-0 lead in the team score.

“Those first two wins got us going,” Taylor said.

Liberty got a decision win at 120 to make the score 12-3, but Coulter got the Bowmen back on the winning track as he pinned David Flazor in 1:33 at 126 pounds.

The talented Falcons tried to battle their way back, getting a pin from Derrick Roy at 132 and a decision victory from Michael Feltman at 138 to trim the Sherwood lead to 18-12. But the Bowmen wouldn’t let Liberty get any closer.

At 145 pounds, Clarke pinned Falcon standout Angel Morales in 3:53. In that match, Morales took a 4-2 lead with a reversal in the opening seconds of the second round. But Clarke came storming back with a reversal of his own and a three-point nearfall before getting the pin.

“I wrestled my match,” Clarke said. “I try to do that every time.”

Castillo kept things rolling for Sherwood as he got a buzzer-beating first-round pin against Carlos Rivas in the 152-pound match, upping the Bowmen lead to 30-12.

In the 160-pound bout, Rice notched a 7-6 win over Hunter Dehlin in what looked to be the most spirited match of the night.

“It was intense,” Rice said with a smile.

At 170, Sherwood senior James Musser also got a decision victory, downing Tyson Ticknor by a 6-4 margin, giving the Bowmen a 36-12 lead. In the 182-pound match, Keohane pinned Jordan Grenfel in 5:09 to make the score 42-12.

Bowmen junior Ryan Jurgens, at 195 pounds, had the fastest win of the night as he pinned Jose Alaguna in 11 seconds.

Junior Martin Layna capped off the Sherwood victory by pinning Eli Martinez in 2:44 in the 220-pound match.

“I’m really proud of the kids,” Taylor said. “This might be the best total team we’ve had in my nine years here.”

Action at the district tournament starts at 2:30 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, the day will start with semifinal matches beginning at 10 a.m. Championship finals are set to begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

District tournament ticket prices, per session, are $5 for adults and $4 for students. Tournament passes are $12 for adults and $8 for students.

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