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Whitaker battles to fourth at state


Tualatin's Summers, Walther also place at the Class 6A tourney

by: DAN BROOD - LOCKING UP -- Tualatin High School junior Jeff Whitaker (right) looks to get ahold of South Eugene's Jacob Crtrynbaum  in the 106-pound third/fourth-place match Saturday at the Class 6A State Wrestling Tournament. PORTLAND — Confidence.

It can be a driving force.

Just ask Jeff Whitaker.

Confidence helped push Whitaker, a junior on the Tualatin High School wrestling team, to a win over a No. 1 seed.

Confidence helped put Whitaker on the award stand at the Class 6A State Wrestling Tournament.

And, when he starts his senior season with the Timberwolves next year, Whitaker may very well be brimming with confidence.

Whitaker, with his fourth-place finish in the 106-pound weight class, provided one of the big highlights for the Wolves at the event held Friday and Saturday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

“This is really cool,” Whitaker said after wrestling his final match at the state tourney. “I had some doubts about myself, but I pushed it, got some confidence and wrestled hard. I want to come back next year and do even better.”

Whitaker was one of three Tualatin wrestlers who placed at the tournament. Senior Kenny Walther took sixth place at 220 pounds and senior Cody Summers was sixth at 285.

“I’m proud of all of them,” Tualatin coach Matt Hamilton said. “They all battled like crazy and I’m proud of all of them. Jeff had a great tournament.”

Whitaker, wrestling at the state tourney for the first time, opened the tournament on Friday with a 10-1 major decision win over North Medford’s Henry Cox in a first-round match. In the quarterfinals, Whitaker lost 14-7 to No. 3 seed Jorge Fuentes of Centennial.

Whitaker bounced back to pin McMinnville’s Aspen Nelson in a time of 2 minutes and 31 seconds in a consolation second-round match. In the consolation quarterfinals, with a spot on the award stand at stake, Whitaker posted a 10-2 major decision win over Forest Grove’s Christian Guerra.

In that match, after a scoreless first round, Guerra took a 2-0 lead with a reversal 10 seconds into the second round. But the rest of the match belonged to Whitaker. He scored on a reversal and three-point nearfall later in the second round, and then he added another reversal and three-point nearfall in the third round to get the 10-2 victory.

That put Whitaker into the consolation bracket semifinals, where he faced top-seeded Joel Timmons of Westview.

In that match, Whitaker took a 2-0 lead with a takedown coming with 32 seconds left in the first round. He added a two-point nearfall later in the round to up his lead to 4-0.

Timmons came back strong in the second round, getting both an escape and a takedown to cut the margin to 4-3. But Whitaker answered back. He got an escape in the second round and then added an escape and a takedown in the third round to get an 8-3 decision win.

“That was exciting,” Whitaker said of that match. “Getting that first takedown gave me confidence.”

In the 106-pound third/fourth-place match, Whitaker fell 2-1 to South Eugene’s Jacob Cytrynbaum, with the deciding point coming on what could be called a questionable stalling call coming with 1:13 left in the match.

Still, Whitaker was happy with his fourth-place finish.

“It was a whole season of work, and the coaches really helped,” he said. “The whole team worked well together. It was great to have the team behind me today.”

Walther, wrestling at state for the first time, scored a 9-4 decision win over Ellis Eaton of West Linn to start the tournament. In the second round, he was edged 9-5 by No. 4 seed Willy Spears of Sheldon.

Walther came back in the consolation second round to score a 4-0 win over Jacob Kasper of North Medford. In the consolation quarterfinals, with a spot on the award stand on the line, Walther scored a 1-0 win over Aloha’s Ryan Papenfuhs. Walther scored the only point of that match with an escape coming with 57 seconds left in the second round.

“I’m happy that I learned my lesson,” Walther said of that win. “I listened to the coaches and did what they told me to do.”

In the consolation semifinals, Walther lost by fall to No. 2 seed Mason Ross of McNary. Walther then fell again to Spears, 6-2, putting him in sixth place.

“I’m really happy with that,” Walther said. “It’s my first time here, and to get on the award stand shows my hard work paid off.”

Summers opened the tourney by pinning Oregon City’s Jacob Hagler in 0:27 in a first-round match. He then downed Aloha’s Cortez Rodelo by fall in 1:05 in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Summers lost by fall to No. 1 seed, and eventual state champion, Chet Spears of Sheldon.

In the consolation semifinals, Summers was edged 3-1 by Derrick Turituri of Crater. Summers was then pinned by No. 2 seed Michael Kluge in the fifth/sixth-place match.

“I’m not as happy as I would be if I’d won, but my goal was to place, and I did that,” Summers said. “I wrestled better yesterday, but this was a fun year. It was a great year.”

Summers’ older brother, Jake, placed sixth at 220 pounds in 2011.

“I wanted to place higher than my brother,” Cody Summers said with a smile. “But I’ll take a tie with him.”

Tualatin junior John Whitaker also picked up a win at the state tournament. Wrestling at 132-pounds, he pinned Glencoe’s Kyle Flaig in 1:34 in a first-round match. Whitaker then lost 10-3 to No. 3 seed David Nelson of Gresham in the quarterfinals and he was then edged by Aloha’s Ryan Schwartz in a consolation second round match.

Also wrestling for the Timberwolves at the state tournament were junior Franklin Giannone (160 pounds), sophomore Kellen Poti (170), senior Kage Wabaunsee (170) and junior Luke Goessens (182).

Tualatin finished in 24th place in the final team standings with 24 points. David Douglas won the Class 6A team state championship.