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The Spartans advance more than a dozen wrestlers to state and add a district title to the dual title they won two weeks ago.

STAFF PHOTO: LOREN WOHLGEMUTH - Hillsboro's Ayana Medina wrestles during the NWOC district championships Friday, Feb. 8, at Scappoose High School in Scappoose.Following Hillsboro's win over Milwaukie more than a week ago — a victory which secured the outright Northwest Oregon Conference dual championship — Spartans wrestling head coach Stephen Moreno said that while he was proud of his team's effort, what he really wanted was a district title at the upcoming district championships.

Well, he got it.

The Spartans, in what could only be described as a whirlwind, secured the district title Friday, Feb. 8, at Scappoose High School, defeating second-place Milwaukie by nearly 50 points in a condensed single-day version of a normally two-day event, as the result of what was thought to be a pending weather disaster.

As it turned out, the bad weather didn't materialize as feared. Hillsboro, on the other hand, showed up as powerful as it can be. While there are still a few matches to be completed, scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 13, the Sparts' title was clinched, and the bulk of their state qualifiers have punched their ticket to the OSAA State Championships from Friday, Feb. 22, through Saturday, Feb. 23, at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.

"This is a team sport, not individual," said Moreno. "Some of my seniors — Nick Peterson, Brandon Schubmehl, Jayden Strickland, Ralphy Medina — they've been wrestling for years in Hillsboro, and this is big for them because they've never had a team championship. They've had dual titles, but not the whole package. So to have both for those guys is really nice, to send them off with that championship."

The Spartans earned four individual titles, four second-place finishes, four more thirds and a fourth. Individual champions included junior Damon Chavez at 120 pounds, fellow junior Trevor Schubmehl (220), and seniors Cole Siemon (132) and Nick Peterson (160). PMG PHOTO: LOREN WOHLGEMUTH - Hillsboro's Jayden Strickland wrestles during the NWOC District Championships Friday, Feb. 8, at Scappoose High School.Freshman Ayana Medina placed second at 106 pounds, while teammates junior Tristin Keffer (126), senior Jayden Strickland (145) and senior Christopher Day (182) joined her as runner-ups. Third-place finishers included junior Josh Smith (120), senior Ralphy Medina (126), along with freshmen Adonai Peraza-Nava (152) and Darrius Walker (195). In addition to the aforementioned, juniors Scott Ellis (145) and Andy Garcia (285) will wrestle in fourth-place matches, Feb. 13, to add to the already hefty group of Spartans headed to state.

With snow forecast for Friday night and into Saturday, the league made a decision Thursday evening to try to push through the entire event in a day. And for the most part, it worked. But with snow falling and time ticking, Moreno and the rest of the coaches experienced an added element of stress in an already stressful event.

"The whole event Friday was one long day," Moreno said. "It was a bit of a fiasco, but it made for a fun night. It started snowing about 1 p.m. and started sticking about 5 p.m., so that put everyone a little on edge."

The second-year coach said he was excited about his team's performance, and they mostly met or exceeded his expectations. Having said that, he noted that his kids had already reached the goals set forth at the beginning of the year.

"Right after the tournament, we had a meeting and talked about reassessing our goals, because we've already exceeded them," said the coach. "It's been a pleasant surprise for everyone, and now we'll see where we can go from here."

Another pending decision is whether or not Medina wrestles for the boys at state, or chooses to compete in the separate female event for the Spartan girls. Moreno said she's leaning in the girls' direction, but that whatever she chooses, it's a win for Hillsboro, as well as the sport.

"It was gratifying and good for her to get that spot," he said. "And regardless of what she chooses, great exposure for girls' wrestling."

So it's on to state for the Sparts. And are they and their coach excited for the opportunity? Of course, but whatever the outcome, Moreno knows it's already been a great year, and one the school and community can be proud of.

"I'm really excited for state," he said. "There's high expectations here. You walk into our room and there's pictures of state champions and state placers, so there's that history that adds expectations. So with the girls winning a week prior and the boys winning last week, it's been really fun and great for our community."

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