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Summers Slams the Competition

Tualatin battles to fourth place at the regional tournament


by: DAN BROOD - TIGARD-TUALATIN TITLE TUSSLE -- Tualatin senior Cody Summers (right) battles Tigard junior Victor Ceja in the 285-pound title match at the Special District 3 regional tourament. TUALATIN — Four years of strenuous work.

Six minutes of hard-fought action.

And a two-point win.

It all led to one championship and one big championship smile.

Tualatin senior Cody Summers was beaming with a sense of achievement after he battled his way to the championship in the 285-pound weight class at the Special District 3 Regional Wrestling Tournament, held Friday and Saturday at Tualatin High School.

“This means a lot to me,” Summers said after scoring a 5-3 decision win over Tigard junior Victor Ceja in the 285-pound regional championship match. “I’ve worked four years for this. I’m absolutely thrilled.”

Summers’ championship helped the Timberwolves place fourth in the 10-team tournament with a 211.5 points.

But, maybe more importantly, Tualatin will be sending eight wrestlers on to the Class 6A State Tournament.

“We have a lot of guys who worked hard for this,” Tualatin junior John Whitaker said.

“Everyone worked their hearts out,” Tualatin senior Kenny Walther said.

The top four finishers each weight division at the regional tourney advance to compete in the state tournament, which will be held Feb. 22-23 at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum.

“I’m absolutely excited for state,” said Summers, who was one of five Timberwolf wrestlers to reach the championship round of the regional tourney. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

He’s been looking forward to it for a long time.

“My freshman year, I had a chance to place (at the Pacific Conference District Tournament), and I blew it,” Summers said. “I’ve been working hard ever since then.”

As a Tualatin sophomore, Summers placed fourth at 285 pounds at the Special District 3 tourney to earn his first trip to the state tournament. He missed last year’s regional tourney after having shoulder surgery.

He came back with motivated and ready to go at this year’s regional tourney.

Summers, after drawing an opening-round bye, needed just 10 seconds to pin McNary’s Kyle Bonn in a quarterfinal match. In the semifinals, Summer defeated Newberg junior Dakota Church by fall in 0:30.

That put Summers in the finals, where he went up against a familiar opponent in Ceja. In the finalists’ earlier meeting this season, Ceja came away with a 5-3 overtime decision win.

But, in Saturday’s rematch, Summers struck first, getting a takedown with 48 seconds left in the first round to take a 2-0 lead. Ceja came back with an escape with 21 seconds to go in the period, making the score 2-1 going into the second round.

Summers got the only point of the second round, getting an escape with 1:37 left in the period. That gave the Tualatin senior a 3-1 lead going into the third round.

Ceja cut the margin to 3-2 with an escape coming with 1:36 left in the match. Summers came back with a takedown with 19 seconds remaining, upping his lead to 5-2. Another Ceja escape, coming with 12 seconds remaining, cut the lead to 5-3. But Summers battled strong in the final seconds to wrap up the victory.

“I was thinking ‘hell, yeah,’ at the end,” Summers said with a smile. “I was confident. I prepared all season for this match.”

Tualatin junior brothers Jeff and John Whitaker each reached the finals at district.

Jeff Whitaker, at 106 pounds, opened the tourney by pinning McNary’s Riley Rapp in 0:42 in a first-round match. In the quarterfinals, Whitaker notched a 12-3 decision win over Gerardo Naranjo of McKay. Whitaker then posted a 10-3 decision victory over Aspen Nelson of McMinnville to reach the finals.

In the title bout, Whitaker fell 5-0 to Raymond Smith of North Salem.

“It’s pretty cool,” Jeff Whitaker said of his second-place finish at the regional tourney. “I didn’t place last year, so this was good. It took a lot of hard practice.”

He’s also happy about getting to wrestle at state along with his twin brother.

“That’s going to be cool,” he said with a smile.

John Whitaker, at 132 pounds, opened the regional event by pinning Lane Hessel of McMinnville in 0:49 in a first-round match. He followed that up by beating Dreagn Bennett of Sprague by fall in 2:28 in the quarterfinals. Whitaker then scored a 5-4 decision win over McNary’s Hector Maldonado in the semifinals.

In the championship match with McMinnville’s Jered Sublet, Whitaker, after a scoreless first round, took a 1-0 lead with an escape six seconds into the second round. Sublet came back to take a 2-1 lead with a takedown coming with 0:49 left in the round. But Whitaker regained the lead, at 3-2, with a buzzer-beating reversal to end the second round.

Sublet scored on an escape with 1:05 left in the match to tie the score at 3-3. The McMinnville senior then got a takedown with 19 seconds remaining to get a 5-3 win.

“It’s always disappointing to get second,” John Whitaker said. “I don’t know what happened. I wish I could have won, but this will give me extra motivation for state. It will give me extra drive.”

Tualatin senior Kage Wabaunsee reached the regional title match at 170 pounds for the second straight year.

Wabaunsee got off to a flying start to the regional tournament. He won by fall in matches with North Salem’s Aleks Khmelev, McNary’s Gage Mance and Sprague’s Kyle Williams to reach the finals. In the championship bout, Wabaunsee was pinned by McMinnville standout Tiger Paasch.

Walther will be going to state for the first time after finishing second at 220 pounds.

“I’m happy I finished high and get to go to state,” he said. “I put in a lot of hard work for this.”

Walther, after getting a first-round bye, pinned North Salem’s Josh Coyle in 3:32 in the quarterfinals and he defeated Alvaro Venegas of McNary in 1:10 in the semifinals.

In the title bout, Walther lost to McNary senior Mason Ross.

Other Timberwolf grapplers who qualified for state include senior Frank Giannone, who was third at 160, junior Luke Goessens, who was third at 182, and sophomore Kellen Poti, who placed fourth at 170.

Also for Tualatin at the regional tournament, senior Max Houston placed fifth at 126 pounds and junior Blake Reser was fifth at 138.

Sprague won the regional tournament team title with a score of 310.5. McNary was second at 285 and McMinnville third at 263.5.



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