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The Spartans claim four individual championships and five runner-ups in preparation for this week's state tournament.

PMG PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Coaches and members of the Hillsboro High School wrestling team pose for a photo with their first place trophy at the NWOC District Wrestling Championships this past Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21-22, at Wilsonville High School.Districts isn't just about winning. It's about experience, qualifying athletes for state and preparing for what's to come.

Well, what's to come is this week's OSAA/OnPoint State Wrestling Championships, and Hillsboro got the necessary experience and preparation, qualified 15 wrestlers for state and in the process won the team competition at the NWOC district championships Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21-22, at Wilsonville High School.

"We wanted to show up here and show everyone that we are the best team, and that's exactly what we did," Hillsboro's Tristin Keffer said. "Everyone came out firing and we put nine guys in the finals and about 20 dudes going to state, so we like what we see."

It wasn't quite 20, but they did qualify 15 for this weekend's event, and along the way claimed four individual titles and five runners-up.

"We were very confident with our standing and were very confident with how our boys were performing in the room," Hillsboro head coach Stephen Moreno said. "We knew Scappoose was going to be the one to challenge, and thankfully we were able to perform here in the finals and throughout the weekend."

One of those individual champions was Jackson Godsey, who claimed the 145 pound title. The junior avenged a dual defeat to Wilsonville's Caleb Wilde, whom he lost to Feb. 6, by pinning the Wilsonville standout in the third round.

"He beat me in our dual, so I went into it with a game plan and I knew what I wanted to do," Godsey said. "And when I was on top, I knew he wasn't very strong on bottom, so I locked up the cradle and I just tilted back."

Godsey said the match went mostly as expected, and that he adequately executed his plan. Afterward, he acknowledged his desire for a district title, along with the gratification that came with all of his — and his team's — hard work paying off.

PMG PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Hillsboro's Jackson Godsey wrestles during the NWOC District Wrestling Championships this past Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21-22, at Wilsonville High School."I feel really good," he said. "I got fourth (at 138) last year, so this is a big improvement. A district title is always the goal. I worked just as hard if not harder than everyone else in the room, and that's what I got. It's so satisfying. That's what we work in the room for all season."

Also claiming titles were Scott Ellis, who pinned his teammate, Jaden Echeverria, in the 160 pound final; Trevor Schubmehl, who defeated Milwaukie's Peter Foulke 4-2 in the 220 pound final; and Keffer, who defeated his teammate, Brendin Le, by fall in the second round of the 126 pound final. Keffer, who successfully avenged a final's loss in last year's event, said he was on a mission this year to avoid what amounted to a difficult path to a failed state title attempt last season.

"I wanted to come out here and show that I'm ready for a championship, so that's what I did," Keffer said. "(Last year) motivated me a lot, because that finish messed up my seeding at state and where I ended up in t

he bracket. I knew that if I wanted to be where I'd like to be in the bracket, I've got to go hard in districts and I've got to get that title."

In addition to Echeverria and Le, Spartans Damon Chavez (132) and Sebastian Echeverria (182) were runners-up; Osman Camposeco (106), Michael Ellis (138), Adonai Peraza-Nava (152) and Sean Ellis (170) placed third; while Tyler Schertenleib (145) and Darrius Walker (195) placed fourth. All earned spots at this weekend's state championships, and will be there with winning in mind, along with helping their teammates do the same.

"Everyone pushes each other and everyone works together and cheers each other on, especially at big events," Godsey said. "It's a real amazing team experience just to be with these guys. I'm really proud of how everyone showed up and everyone performed well. And I'm really excited to take home a trophy."

And what does their coach think about their chances at state? He didn't get into specifics, but he did say his team is ready and that they are more than willing to take their swings come that opening match.

"Our boys and girls are ready," Moreno said. "Last year, we had to coach a week in between district and state. It was different coachin

g and it was a little bit harder to peak all at once. This year, the kids are peaking. They're ready to go and right where they should be."

The OSAA/OnPoint State Boys and Girls Wrestling Championships are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 28, and matches will be conducted until 10:30 p.m. Matches continue at 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 29, with the finals beginning at 7 p.m.

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