The Wolves step up to get a league win over rival Tigard

by: DAN BROOD - FANTASTIC FINISH -- Tualatin High School sophomore Matthew Lovos heads to the finish line on his way to victory in the 1,500-meter run during last week's Pacific Conference dual meet at Tigard. TIGARD — Rigo Rodriguez had a smile on his face as he crossed the finish line.

Matthew Lovos may not have been smiling as he sprinted to the finish. It was more line a look of total determination.

And, with their impressive victories, they helped the Tualatin High School boys track and field team break into a winning smile.

Rodriguez, a Tualatin senior, and Lovos, a sophomore, turned in key performances on the track to help the Timberwolves get a 74-71 win over rival Tigard in a Pacific Conference dual meet held April 10 at Tigard High School.

“It’s a great team effort,” said Lovos, who won the 1,500-meter run with a come-from-behind finish. “This feels really good. We were all extremely pumped up today. We beat them in cross country and we were all excited to try and beat them again.”

“It’s always a good feeling to win,” said Rodriguez, who triumphed in the 400. “They’re our big rivals, and that gives us some extra motivation.”

With the victory, the Tualatin boys improved to 2-0 in league meets while Tigard moved to 1-1.

Lovos helped set the tone for the Timberwolves early in the meet with his inspired victory in the 1,500.

Throughout the race, Lovos found himself trailing Tigard junior Devin Roche. The pace-setting Roche held what looked to be a substantial lead going into the final straightaway of the race. But Lovos, drifting to the outside as he burst into a strong finishing kick, sprinted from behind in dramatic fashion to win the race in a personal-best time of 4 minutes, 20.84 seconds.

“The coaches told us to go out and really race these guys today,” Lovos said. “He was ahead by a lot, but I guess I still had some energy. I’m used to having to kick in the last 200 meters.”

That big finishing kick led Lovos way to the outside as he sprinted toward the finish.

“That’s just how it happened,” Lovos said. “I like to improvise.”

While Lovos improvised, Rodriguez stayed focused in his victory.

“It’s all in my head,” Rodriguez said after he won the 400 in a time of 51.67 — crossing the finish line with a smile on his face. “I just push myself. I tell myself I have to finish first.”

In addition to his win in the 400, Rodriguez also teamed with senior Kyle Gager, junior Nick Hines and senior Saif Al Rikabi to win the 4 x 100 relay 44.51. In the 4 x 400 relay, the team of Rodriguez, Gager, sophomore Billy Calder and Rikabi triumphed in a time of 52.5.

“We just work hard together,” Rodriguez said of the Tualatin relay teams. “We’re looking to go to state.”

Also for the Tualatin boys at last week’s meet, Rikabi sprinted to victory in the 200 in 23.38, junior Gator Pizer won the 300 intermediate hurdles in 43.16, sophomore Garrison Saina had a winning throw of 41 feet, 2 inches in the shot put, senior Alex Ponce lead a Timberwolf sweep in the javelin with his first-place throw of 157-9 and Ryan Wisner cleared 6-0 to win the high jump event.

“It was a very competitive meet on both sides,” Tualatin coach Paul Zitzelsberger said. “It brought out the best in competition.”

The Tualatin teams were scheduled to compete at Century in a league dual meet on Wednesday. Results of that meet weren’t available when the Times went to press.

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