Wilsonville wrestlers battle to fourth at NWOC district tournament
In a wrestling district as tough as the Northwest Oregon Conference, you know you're going to have to bring your best.
So that's just what the top wrestlers from Wilsonville, Milwaukie and Putnam did, taking their best shots at the 2022 NWOC district meet, held at Hillsboro High School on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 11-12.
By the time the dust settled, St. Helens walked off with top honors, racking up five district championships and a league-high total of 346.5 points, while Hillsboro took second at 283.5. The complete team scoring included: St. Helens 346.5, Hillsboro 283.5, Scappoose 242.0, Wilsonville 216.5, Milwaukie 167.0, Putnam 167.0, and Parkrose 79.0.
Wilsonville senior Marshall Rodenbeck and juniors Kaden Kramer and Fredy Garcia led the way for the Wildcats, with Rodenbeck winning the district crown at 182 pounds, while Kramer and Garcia both took second, Kramer at 120 and Garcia at 113.
Rodenbeck opened with a bye, then followed with a pin and a technical fall to set up his championship match against Putnam junior Kaison Clay in the final. Rodenbeck led 2-0 after one round, added an escape and a takedown to push ahead 5-1 after two, then added an escape, a takedown and a nearfall before pinning Clay with 54 seconds remaining in the third round.
"I feel pretty good," Rodenbeck said. "The semifinals and the finals were like three hours apart so I was rested, but I had to warm up hard to get back into it. That's how it works when I wrestle — I'm not the type to be explosive off the bat, I'm in for the whole six minutes of it."
Kramer, meanwhile, battled into the finals at 120, winning three straight times before running into St. Helens senior star Gavin Schaer in the final. There, Kramer rallied from a 4-0 deficit with a takedown, a three-point nearfall and —almost — a pin in the second round before finally falling 8-5.
"This was pretty much my only tough match so it was a really good day for me," Kramer said. "I wrestled him two times before — the first time he pinned me in the first round, the second time he pinned me in the second round — so that's a huge improvement for me. I've been making a lot of improvements this season. It's been a good year."
And Garcia won twice — once by fall and once by pin — to reach the finale against St. Helens' Wyatt Dingman. After a scoreless first round, Garcia scored a takedown midway through the second before Dingman answered with a reversal and a pin near the end of the period.
For Putnam, senior Drew Greco stepped up to win the tournament title at 145 pounds, while junior Ray Taitingfong placed second at 106 and Clay grabbed second at 182.
Greco opened his tourney with a bye, then posted three straight pins to take the NWOC title, eventually stopping St. Helens senior Brenden Clegg with 11 seconds left in the third round.
"It feels great. I've worked every day six days a week for this for my whole life," Greco said. "I went into it knowing with all my heart that I was going to win (and now) I'm ready for the state finals. … If I wrestle with all my heart, trust the coaching that I've been taught and just be confident, nothing's going to stop me."
Taitingfong won his way into the title match and trailed just 3-2 going into the third round before St. Helens sophomore Evan Willis pulled away with a reversal and a nearfall to win 8-2.
Klay, meanwhile, posted three straight pins to reach the finals before being stopped by Rodenbeck.
And Milwaukie sent two wrestlers into the finals, with both junior Theodore Baldwin and senior Marquies A'au finishing second, Baldwin at 126 and A'au at 285.
Baldwin posted two pins to reach the final against Anthony Comer of Scappoose, but Comer posted a takedown in the first round, then added an escape and another takedown in the second to win 5-0.
"I wish I could have gotten first," Baldwin said. "(Comer) likes that outside single so I was trying to get an underhook on the left side and he was trying to prevent it, but I couldn't really get it."
A'au, meanwhile, started with a bye, then pinned two opponents before getting pinned near then end of the third round of the final by St. Helens senior Taylor Jennings.
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