Tualatin steps up to get a victory over Sprague

by: DAN BROOD - UPPER HAND -- Tualatin senior Jeff Whitaker (left) keeps control of Sprague's Logan Holmquist during their 126-pound match.TUALATIN — The Tualatin High School wrestling team admits that it still has a lot of work to do.

The Timberwolves say they need some more conditioning and they need more practice on the mats.

The good news is, despite all of that, the Tualatin squad got its season off to a winning start.

The Wolves opened their 2013-2014 schedule by powering their way to a 33-31 win over Sprague in a Special District 3 dual match held last Thursday at Tualatin High School.

“It was a little sloppy,” said Tualatin junior Kellen Poti, who picked up a wild back-and-forth decision victory in the 220-pound match. “We need to work on our lungs, and be more aggressive. But we still won, and we’ll keep working.”

“It was good for our first match,” said Tualatin senior Jeff Whitaker, who triumphed in the 126-pound match. “We got the cobwebs out. But we all still have a lot of stuff to work on.”

The Timberwolves got their season started later than most teams in the state — by plan.

“We set up a backloaded schedule this year,” Tualatin coach Matt Hamilton said. “The kids were a little rusty today, but they battled. They scrapped. But, yeah, we have some work to do.”

In last week’s match, Sprague took a quick 6-0 lead, getting a win by fall at 106 pounds. The teams then traded forfeits at 113 and 120, leaving the Olympians with a 12-6 advantage.

But Whitaker helped Tualatin cut into that lead by scoring a 19-4 technical fall victory over Sprague’s Logan Holmquist at 126 pounds.

“It was good,” Whitaker said of his victory. “But I could have been more aggressive.”

Whitaker got off to a strong start to the match, getting a pair of takedowns and a three-point near fall in the first round, which ended with the Tualatin senior holding a 7-1 lead.

Whitaker notched two more takedowns in the second round to up the margin to 11-3.

by: DAN BROOD - TAKING CHARGE -- Tualatin High School junior Kellen Poti (right) looks to roll Sprague's Justin Ellis during their 220-pound match last week. Poti scored a 9-8 decision victory. Whitaker got two more takedowns in the third round, the second coming with 18 seconds left in the match. Whitaker tried to pin Holmquist in the final seconds, but had to settle for the 19-4 victory.

Timberwolf sophomore Griffin Young then received a forfeit victory at 132 pounds to give Tualatin a 17-12 lead in the team score.

Sprague, getting a major decision win from senior Draegn Bennett at at 138 pounds, trimmed the Tualatin lead to 17-16.

Senior Blake Reser regained momentum for the Wolves, as he scored a 9-2 decision win over Jake Vaughn at 145 pounds. In that match, Reser held a 4-2 lead early in the third round, but he scored on an escape, a takedown and a two-point nearfall late in the match to get the 9-2 win, which gave Tualatin a 20-16 lead in the team score.

In the 152-pound match, Tualatin senior John Whitaker notched a 6-4 decision win over James Baxter to push the Timberwolf lead to 23-16.

Sprague got a win by fall at 160 to trim the margin to 23-22.

The Olympians then took a 25-23 after getting a 6-1 decision win from Collin Griffin at 170 pounds. However, for Tualatin, it could have been worse, but Timberwolf sophomore Oliver Price fought off Griffin to avoid losing by major decision — or worse.

“Oliver and Jake Norlin (at 138 pounds) both stepped up and stayed tough,” Hamilton said. “Every point matter and every person contributed.”

Tualatin regained the lead in the team score, at 26-25, after senior Timberwolf senior Franklin Giannone scored an 8-3 decision win over Corson Davis at 182.

The Wolves kept rolling at 195 pounds, where senior Luke Goessens posted a 10-0 major decision win over Thomas Burdick, giving Tualatin a 30-25 edge in the team score.

In his victory, Goessens had three takedowns and a three-point nearfall.

Poti, at 220, stepped on the mat with a chance to wrap up the team win for the Wolves.

The Tualatin junior battled Sprague sophomore Justin Ellis to a scoreless first round.

Poti took a 2-0 lead with a reversal coming with 1 minute and 43 seconds remaining in the second round. A reversal by Ellis tied the match at 2-2 with 1:22 remaining in the round. Poti countered with yet another reversal, coming with 27 seconds left in the period, to take a 4-2 lead into the third round.

The trend continued in the final round, with Ellis scoring on a reversal seven seconds into the period. Poti scored on a reversal with 1:30 left in the match, but, Ellis came back with a reversal to tie the match at 6-6 with 1:14 remaining.

Poti took a 7-6 lead with an escape coming with 50 seconds remaining. The then took a 9-6 lead with a takedown coming with 29 seconds left. Ellis got an escape and a stalling point in the last few seconds, making the final score 9-8, giving the Wolves a win-clinching 33-25 lead.

“I was a little disappointed,” Poti said. “I should have wrestled better. My real aim is getting a pin. I need to do some work.”

Sprague got a win by fall at 285 pounds to make the final score 33-31.

The Wolves are now looking to take off from here.

“We have a lot of potential,” Jeff Whitaker said. “We can go where we want to go.”

“This is a great group of kids,” Hamilton said.

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