Wildcats earn five bids to extend five-year run under Milham

by: JEFF GOODMAN / PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Tony Munoz was one of five state qualifiers on the Wilsonville wrestling team this year. Above, the sophomore competes in the heavyweight bracket of the Class 5A state championships Feb. 28 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.Nine district placers, five OSAA qualifiers and an athlete on the state podium for the first time in three seasons — these accomplishments weren’t lost on Wilsonville wrestling coach Jason Milham.

Despite their relative youth, the Wildcats made noticeable progress — as individuals and as a team — in their recently completed 2013-14 season.

“For the age and experience of the team we had, I’m not sure we could’ve done a whole lot better than we did,” Milham said.

Wilsonville’s undisputed leader was senior Justin Hamilton, who took fifth place in the 195-pound bracket of the Class 5A championships to become the program’s first state placer since Neil Ochs in 2011.

Hamilton was the Wildcats’ top performer throughout the year. He placed third Dec. 14 at the Rose City Championship tournament, was a runner-up Dec. 21 at the Oregon National Guard Invitational and took second Jan. 4 at the Don York Invitational. He also won the Hood River Valley Elks Invitational tournament Jan. 25 before reaching the district finals in February.

Hamilton was one of five players who didn’t miss a practice this year.

“He came in at the end of last year and said his goal was to be a state place-winner,” Milham said. “He wrestled last spring, went on a summer trip to Pocatello, did camps and did some wrestling in the fall when he had a chance between football stuff. All of that dedication and commitment paid off for him.”

Hamilton and eight other Wilsonville wrestlers — Andrew Love (106), Eli Day (132), Colin Cubbage (138), Josiah Day (145), Matthew Dyer (152), Jakob Fulbright (170), Sam Garrison (220) and Tony Munoz (285) — placed at the Northwest Oregon Conference finals, where the team took fifth place. All nine received all-league recognition.

 “We had a relatively young team, but they performed,” Milham said. “It’s very encouraging for the future.”

Hamilton, Cubbage, Josiah Day, Fulbright and Munoz qualified for the state tournament, making this the fifth year in a row under Milham in which the program received at least five bids.

That number easily could have been higher.

Cubbage, a graduating senior who transferred from West Linn two seasons ago, was coping with a wrist injury as he headed into the OSAA meet.

“He would’ve liked to have gone out as a state placer, but in light of being banged up I think he was glad that he had the opportunity to go,” Milham said.

Tough draws in the district tournament kept Garrison and Eli Day from qualifying for the state meet.

Love didn’t earn a state bid but rebounded from an early-season injury to clinch a spot on the district podium.

“Once he got back in the mix, he started clicking and coming together and was able to place,” Milham said. “I was really happy for him. He came back well.”

Wildcats sophomore Bug Lydy, who participated in the girls exhibition tournament during last year’s state meet, did not make a return trip after sustaining hip and head injuries.

“Her season never came together,” Milham said. “We were gearing towards (a repeat appearance), but things happened at the wrong time.”

Lydy, Tristan Greco, Josiah Day, Fulbright and Munoz all have state experience and are expected to return to the program next year.

“It’s been a few years since we’ve had that many in the room at once,” Milham said. “They all have an opportunity to make it back. I’m very optimistic.”




Record: 3-4 in the NWOC (fifth place)

Districts: Tallied 149 points to take fifth place behind Sandy, Sherwood, St. Helens and Liberty; produced nine placers (one finalist) and five state qualifiers

State: Tallied 20 points to take 24th place; was represented on the podium by Justin Hamilton (195), the program’s first OSAA placer since 2011

All-NWOC: Andrew Love (106), Eli Day (132), Colin Cubbage (138), Josiah Day (145), Matthew Dyer (152), Jakob Fulbright (170), Justin Hamilton (195), Sam Garrison (220), Tony Munoz (285)

By Jeff Goodman
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