Wrestling: Podium hopeful Justin Hamilton leads Wilsonville into state meet
Wildcats earn five bids to Class 5A championships at NWOC tournament
Posted in the Wilsonville wrestling teams mat room is Justin Hamiltons goal for the season: state placement.
And now that the standout senior has secured his bid to the OSAA championships, that target seems more tangible than ever.
I feel like I can get it, he said. Ive just got to be in the right mental and physical state.
Hamilton and four other Wildcats posted top-four finishes at the Northwest Oregon Conference district meet Feb. 21-22 at Wilsonville High School, earning trips to the Class 5A tournament at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. The state meet will be held Feb. 28 and March 1.
Hamilton, a three-time state qualifier, highlights a contingent that also includes fellow senior Colin Cubbage as well as sophomores Josiah Day, Jakob Fulbright and Tony Munoz.
The quintet helped the Wildcats take fifth place with 149 points at the district tournament, where Sandy (355) cruised past Sherwood (250.5), St. Helens (189) and Liberty (182) to win the team title.
Hamiltons quest to reach the OSAA podium for the first time in his career comes amid a medal drought for Wilsonville, which has not been represented by a state placer since Neil Ochs took fourth in the heavyweight bracket in 2011.
The last two years have been a bit of a dry spell, said coach Jason Milham, who has had 33 state qualifiers in seven years at the helm. We dont put pressure on (Hamilton) for that, but I know he wants to be a placer and I think he has a great shot of doing it. And it would be awesome to break that dry spell at the same time.
Hamilton (195) enters the state meet with a 31-9 record after taking second at the NWOC tournament, where he lost a 3-1 decision to Sherwood rival Ryan Jurgens in the title bout. It was his first full-length match of the season against Jurgens, who won two previous meetings by fall.
Hamilton, who was one of just seven competitors in his bracket, began the opening day with a first-round bye and pinned Milwaukie sophomore Anthony Flynn in 2 minutes 42 seconds in the quarterfinals. He then bulldozed his way into the finals with a 36-second pin of Liberty junior Jose Alaguna.
Despite his ensuing loss to Jurgens, Hamilton heads into the 5A tournament as a stronger and smarter wrestler than he was when he won one match there last season.
He wrestled through the summer and has just done all those extra things that youve got to do to put yourself in a place to be on the podium, and I think hes on track, Milham said. Hes sitting real well.
Cubbage, Day and Fulbright rebounded from losses in the semifinals to clinch state bids with third-place district finishes.
Cubbage (138) started the tournament with two relatively easy wins, defeating St. Helens Hunter Ogle by 23-8 technical fall in the first round and pinning Libertys Minoo Ha in 50 seconds in the quarterfinals.
That victory vaulted the fourth-seeded senior into the semifinals, where he lost to top-seeded Parkrose senior Joshua Reyes by 20-7 major decision.
But Cubbage didnt lose again. He sealed a berth to the state meet by earning a 6-4 win over third-seeded Chris Burton in the consolation semifinals, avenging a Feb. 13 loss to the Milwaukie junior, and he cruised to third place with a 21-6 win by technical fall over Sandy sophomore Ryker Malchow.
Day (145), a Vancouver-Skyview (Wash.) transfer, took a similar path to third place.
The third-seeded sophomore defeated Liberty sophomore Chase Strode by fall in 3 minutes flat in the first round, and he put St. Helens freshman Nick Richardson on his back in 2:40 in the quarterfinals.
Day lasted 5:01 in the semifinals before being pinned by second-seeded Sherwood senior Garret Heckenberg, falling into the consolation rounds.
With a state bid on the line, Day worked for a 10-7 triumph over Milwuakie junior Alex Elmore. He was awarded third place over top-seeded Liberty senior Michael Feltman by injury default.
Fulbright (170) also won several close matches to emerge as a state qualifier.
After a bye in the first round, the third-seeded sophomore defeated Milwaukie junior Cody Neuhaus 11-7 in the quarterfinals.
Fulbright was knocked into the consolation bracket by second-seeded St. Helens senior Zilen Nichols following a loss by fall in the semifinals, but he clinched an OSAA bid with a 4-3 triumph over Putnam junior Paul McFarland and finished off the second day with a 9-7 victory over Neuhaus in the third-place duel.
Munoz (285), meanwhile, eked out a state bid with a fourth-place finish after taking fifth last year.
The sophomore advanced to the semifinals with a 3-0 win over St. Helens freshman Miguel Olmedo and an upset of third-seeded Sandy senior Dalton Davis by fall in 3:38.
After losing 7-1 to second-seeded Liberty junior Luise Rodriguez, Munoz responded by defeating Sandy sophomore Alec Paola 5-0 to nab an OSAA berth in the consolation semifinals.
In a rematch against Olmedo for third place, Munoz was dealt a 4-1 loss.
The Wildcats had four other district placers. Andrew Love (106), Eli Day (132), Matthew Dyer (152) and Sam Garrison (220) all took sixth in their respective weight classes.
AT A GLANCE
NWOC district championships
Feb. 21-22 at Wilsonville High School
Team scores: 1. Sandy, 355; 2. Sherwood, 250.5; 3. St. Helens, 189; 4. Liberty, 182; 5. Wilsonville, 149; 6. Milwaukie, 139; 7. Parkrose, 138; 8. Putnam, 135.
A look at the Wilsonville wrestling teams five state entrants: