Tualatin has a strong group of returnees to build around

by: DAN BROOD - READY TO RUMBLE -- The Tualatin High School wrestling team, and coach Matt Hamilton, boasts a mix of proven returnees and a bunch of hard-working younger competitors this season. TUALATIN — A strong dual match team? Maybe.

A powerful tournament team? Perhaps.

Then again, the Tualatin High School wrestling squad just might have it all.

“It’s hard to say,” Tualatin coach Matt Hamilton said. “We’ll see how it goes. I don’t know if we’ll be a better dual meet team or a tournament team — hopefully both.”

One thing is for sure, the Timberwolves look to have a strong group of wrestlers back from last year’s squad that placed fourth in the team standings at the Special District 3 regional tournament.

“We’ve got a good, solid core,” Hamilton said.

Among the key returnees for the Wolves is senior Jeff Whitaker, who is starting his fourth season on the Tualatin varsity. He should wrestle at 120 or 126 pounds this season.

Last year, competing at 106 pounds, Whitaker placed second at the Special District 3 tournament and went on to earn fourth place at the Class 6A state tournament.

Senior John Whitaker, who could compete anywhere from 132 to 145 this season, is also back for his fourth year on the Tualatin varsity. Last year, at 132 pounds, John Whitaker was the runner-up at the regional tournament.

The Wolves have another wrestler back for his fourth year on the varsity in senior Blake Reser, who will wrestle at 138 or 145. Reser placed fifth at 138 pounds at the regional tournament last year.

Senior returnee Frank Giannone will be at 170 or 182 this year. He also placed at regionals last year, taking the No. 3 spot at 160 pounds.

Tualatin has another key senior returnee in Luke Goessens, who will wrestle at 182 or 195. He was third at regionals at 182 pounds last year.

Junior returnee Kellen Poti will end up wrestling anywhere from 170 to 220 this season. He placed fourth at regionals at 170 pounds last year.

Some other wrestlers could also make some noise for the Wolves this season, including freshman Joe Marquez at 106 or 113, sophomore Griffin Young at 132, sophomore Jake Norlin at 138, senior Bryan Sobranis-Perez at 220 and senior Ace Leben at 220.

Besides that, Tualatin will have many younger wrestlers to work into the mix.

“We have a large group of freshmen and sophomores,” Hamilton said. “And they’re competing. They’re a little green, but they’re working hard.”

As for Special District 3 this year, Hamilton sees some strong competition for the top spots.

“Sprague is always tough, McNary is always tough and McMinnville is tough,” He said. “I’m not sure about us, but you always hope to do better than you did last year.”

On Saturday, Tualatin finished in third place in the team standings at the 16-school Carey Larson Memorial Tournament, held at Sandy High School.

The Wolves had 132 points at the tourney, putting them behind only first-place Sandy, which scored 243, and Newberg, which had a total of 188.

Giannone, at 182 pounds, and Goessens, at 195, each won individual tournament titles.

Giannone went 4-0 at the tourney, getting a 3-1 decision win over Estacada’s Luke Youngberg in the title bout. Goessens also went 4-0. He got an 11-5 win over Sandy’s Jeremy Funk in the 195-pound title match.

Also for Tualatin, Jeff Whitaker took second place at 126, Poti was third at 220, Leben was third at 285, Sobranis-Perez was fourth at 220, Reser was fifth at 145 and sophomore Oliver Price was fifth at 170.

The Wolves will be back in action tonight (Thursday) when they face McNary in a Special District 3 dual match set to start at 7 p.m. at McNary High School.

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