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Grappling for Gold

Blake Reser and Jeff Whitaker each win championships for Tualatin at the regional tourney


by: DAN BROOD - YOU -- Tualatin High School senior Jeff Whitaker points over to Timberwolf coach Matt Hamilton after defeating McKay's Humberto Santana in the 120-pound championship match.KEIZER — John Whitaker’s ribs were hurting.

They were wrapped up and aching so much that Whitaker, a Tualatin High School senior, decided to default, due to injury, in his 145-pound championship match at the Special District 3 regional wrestling tournament.

Yet, as the regional tourney came to an end, Whitaker had a big smile on his face.

With good reason.

“That was a lot of fun, watching my training partner (Tualatin senior Blake Reser) and my brother (Tualatin senior Jeff Whitaker) win titles,” John Whitaker said. “I’m really happy right now.”

And, it’s easy to say, that Jeff Whitaker and Reser were also happy at the end of the night, as they led the way in a strong Timberwolf performance at the regional tournament, which concluded Saturday at McNary High School.

“I’m overjoyed,” Jeff Whitaker said after receiving his 120-pound championship medal.

“This feels great,” said Reser, who triumphed in the 138-pound weight class. “Great isn’t even a good work to describe how I feel right now. It’s hard to put into words.”

by: DAN BROOD - LOCKED UP -- Tualatin senior Blake Reser has control of  McMinnville's Bobby Crowston in the 138-pound title match Saturday at the Special District 3 regional tournament. The Whitaker brothers, Reser and three other Tualatin seniors — Franklin Giannone, Luke Goessens and Bryan Sobranis-Perez — will next be competing at the Class 6A state tournament.

The top four finishers in each weight class at the regional tourney advance to compete at the state event, which will be held Feb. 28-March 1 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

“All of our captains are going to state,” John Whitaker said. “That’s exciting.”

And, of course, Jeff Whitaker and Reser will be going to state as regional champions.

“That means a lot to me,” Jeff Whitaker said. “I worked so long for this.”

Jeff Whitaker opened competition in the regional tourney 120-pound weight bracket by pinning Sprague’s Ole Pries in a time of 40 seconds in a first-round match. In the quarterfinals, Whitaker pinned Josh Ford of McMinnville in 23 seconds. He then earned his spot in the finals by pinning West Salem’s Jeb Powell in 0:54 in the semifinal round.

But the championship match, against McKay’s Humberto Santana, wouldn’t be as easy.

After a scoreless first round, Whitaker took a 1-0 lead with an escape coming six seconds into the second round. But Santana scored on a takedown with 1 minute and 36 seconds remaining in the round to take a 2-1 lead. Another Whitaker escape tied the match at 2-2 going into the third round.

by: DAN BROOD - TITLE TUMBLE -- Tualatin senior Franklin Giannone (right) clashes with North Salem's Edwin Montes in the 170-pound regional championship bout.Santana regained the lead, at 3-2, with an escape coming with 1:36 left in the match. But Whitaker scored on a key takedown with 56 seconds remaining, and he rode Santana out the rest of the way to get the 4-3 decision win.

“I was a little nervous,” Jeff Whitaker said. “But I stayed relaxed and calm and I worked my match.”

Reser opened the tourney by pinning Max Morton of McMinnville in 0:41. In the quarterfinals, he defeated Christopher Bledsoe of South Salem by fall in 1:07. Reser then earned his spot in the 138-pound finals by getting a 15-2 major decision win over North Salem’s Andy Carroll in the semifinals.

But, as was the case with Whitaker, things got tougher for Reser in his championship match with McMinnville’s Bobby Crowston.

After a scoreless first round, Reser opened the second round with an escape. However, with 55 seconds left in the round, Reser was whistled for a stalling violation, tying the match up at 1-1. Reser came back with a takedown coming with 11 seconds left in the period to take a 3-1 lead going into the third round.

Another stalling call on Reser cut the Tualatin senior’s lead to 3-2 with 41 seconds remaining. But, from there, Reser stepped up and held on for the one-point decision win, and the regional title.

“That was very intense,” Reser said. “In the second round, I saw a shot and took him down. In the third round, it was grind, grind, grind.”

At the end of the match, with his hand being raised in victory, Reser’s was dealing with a bloodied nose.

“I’ll trade blood for a title any time,” he said with a smile.

by: DAN BROOD - TIMBERWOLF ON TOP -- Tualatin senior Luke Goessens (left) has a grasp of McNary's Zach Hammerschmith early in their 182-pound title match.In the 145-pound weight class, John Whitaker picked up three wins by fall and one be decision before defaulting to Yasyf Sorensen of Sprague in the championship match.

“I’m going to rest up the next two weeks,” John Whitaker said. “My goal is to win it at state. Getting a title there is what’s important.”

Giannone, wrestling at 170 pounds, received a first-round bye before getting a victory by decision and a semifinal win by major decision to reach the finals.

He then battled North Salem’s Edwin Montes strong in the title match, trailing 2-1 going into the third round before falling by a 3-1 margin.

“My goal was to get to the finals,” Giannone said. “It was a good match, and I gave it my all. I thought my tournament went well.”

Goessens, at 182 pounds, opened the tourney with two decision wins and one win by fall.

He then got off to a strong start in his championship match with McNary’s Zach Hammerschmith, taking a quick 2-0 lead on a takedown coming with 1:16 left in the first round.

But Hammerschmith came back to score a 6-3 decision win.

“It was good,” Goessens said. “It was nice to get make it to the finals. I’ve never done that before. In the finals, I couldn’t get the takedown at the end, but it was still good.”

Sobranis-Perez, at 220 pounds, made it to the semifinal round of the championship bracket before falling to eventual champion Dakota Church of Newberg. However, he earned his bid to the state tournament by pinning McNary’s Joseph Delgado in overtime in the consolation semifinals. Sobranis-Perez then was edged, 2-0, by Newberg’s Evan Smith in the third-place match.

Also for Tualatin at the regional tournament, junior Kellen Poti placed fifth at 220 pounds and senior Ace Leben was sixth at 285.

Tualatin finished in fifth place in the team standings at the regional tournament with 187.5 points. Newberg won the regional tourney team title.



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