If you're free next Friday, or in all reality, Saturday evening around 6 p.m. and can venture to Veterans' Memorial Coliseum for the Class 6A state championship, don't miss out on Westview senior Angel Sanchez.
The 138-pound superstar is worth the price of admission.
Sanchez scorched the Metro League district tournament on Feb. 15 at Westview High School, pinning his way to an easy looking first place finish that culminated in a first period fall against Mountainside's Arian Tajgerdu in the championship match.
Westview finished third as a team with 321.5 points, just behind Aloha who took second with 338 points and first place Mountainside (374). The Wildcats had the second-most first place medals with Juan Elenes (106), Elias Mauck (113), Travis Blasingame (145) all earning top honors in their respective weight classes. Michael Pratt-Valdez (106), Nathan Blasingame (145), Kevon Zakula (160), Ben Munson (195) took second place while Justus Gabriel (152) and Simon Niese (220) took third place to punch their tickets to the 6A state meet.
Sanchez, the Wildcat senior with the big brown puffy ponytail sticking out his headgear, is a must-watch. He's explosive, strong, quick, decisive always looking for the proverbial knockout. Garcia is 36-0 this season, undefeated and for the most part untouched when it comes to competition. Westview travels all over the West Coast, not just in Oregon, during the regular season, which exposed Sanchez to all sorts of different styles and opponents.
"I'm constantly working to score, I don't want to give my opponent a chance to breathe," Sanchez said. "I want to keep the pressure on him, make him feel like he's always on defense."
Westview has churned out 6A state finalists at a frantic clip over the last decade or so. Stars such as Joel Timmons, David Escobar, Joey Coste and Nick Capetillo have added to the Wildcat championship bout legacy. Sanchez could very well be the next in line. Sanchez came to Rock Creek via Miami, Florida when his older brother got a job in the area over the summer and made the move West. The Wildcats' storied history under head coach Michael Delaney spoke for itself, Sanchez said. And the current crop of Westview stars intrigued him when it came to practicing against elite competition as well.
"I love it here so, so much," Sanchez said with a smile. "At my old school (North Miami Senior High) we didn't have a full team, but (at Westview) we do. We have support from the whole community, parents, youth. We have a really good support system here. I love every aspect of it. I feel accepted by the Oregon community, so it feels great to represent this district and the Metro League."
Sanchez moved to Oregon early in the summer, back when the weather was perfectly mild and sunny. The winter climate struck the Miami native's system a bit, but Sanchez is a gym rat with Division One aspirations without a whole lot of free time to explore Oregon's outdoors.
"I was enjoying it because Oregon is really nice in the summer, then it got a little worse and a little harder," Sanchez said with a laugh. "But I stay wrestling the whole time, so I don't care too much. I'm always working, so I don't pay too much mind to it."
Sunset 285-pound senior Gustavo Mendez beat Beaverton's Eoin Layzell in a 10-5 decision to clinch his first district title. Mendez gave special thanks to assistant Ricky Tilbury, a former state placer at Aloha who often sparred with the big Apollo in practice, as well as the Sunset training staff. Coming off a grueling football season in which he played both sides of the ball, Mendez was on the mend for most of his senior wrestling campaign. But head trainer Kari Cunningham and her employees diligently helped Mendez stay healthy and, on the mat. Sometimes the Apollo pit crew put in an hour and a half of physical maintenance and rehabilitation before and after practice in the training room, preparing Mendez for his first-place medal. Mendez's mom was in attendance for his title bout as well and was able to place that shiny medallion around her son's neck atop the Metro podium.
"It takes a village," Mendez said with a smile. "It just shows how much work I've put in during the season and how much my coaches and everybody around me have been helping me. That win was for everybody and everybody in my support system. This year I was older, hit the weight room a little bit more."
Mendez will be joined by Apollo teammate Jacient Cox (138, third place at districts, Luke VanBrabant (126, second place) and Nathan Campbell (132) at the state meet. Layzell, Miguel Solares (220) and Hector Cazares (285) will represent the Beavers at state.
Southridge sophomore Andy Melz won a district title at 120 pounds. Fellow Skyhawk sophomore Dominic Feliz placed third in the same weight class, senior Anthony Peralez placed third at 170 pounds and Elijah Seamster won by fall to take third in the 195-pound division for Southridge.
For more on Aloha, Westview, Sunset, Southridge and Beaverton's feats at the Metro district tourney, please visit www.beavertonvalleytimes.com.
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