High School Sports

Clark County Wrestling Extra: Boys tourney

These notes provided by Micah Rice of The Columbian:

There isn’t enough space in the paper to profile every winner at the Clark County Wrestling Championships at Prairie High School. But there is no such limit on The Columbian’s High School Sports blog.

We made a point to interview every champion Saturday. Here’s a rundown of winners, a few details about each title match and each champion’s reaction.

106: Ethan Rotondo, Union, soph.
Rotondo dominated his championship match, beating Skyview junior Doug Chin in a technical fall, 17-2. He triumphed despite a bothersome contact lens, which caused his left eye to tear up.

Rotondo’s game plan was to use quick moves to score points instead of getting into a contest of brute force.

“My plan was to put pressure on him the whole time,” he said. “He was bigger than me, so I tried to avoid any muscle moves. I just tried to work the angles.”

113 – Trevor Newburn, Ridgefield, soph.
After placing second last year, Newburn climbed atop the podium by beating Battle Ground freshman Joseph Harnett 7-1.

Newburn, who placed sixth in state last year at 106 pounds, feels this weekend’s tournament and the title match were a good primers for the season’s stretch run.

“He definitely challenged me,” Newburn said. “I was able to do what I wanted to do, but he put up a great fight. Winning this tournament definitely gets me ready for districts.”

120 – Chris Joner, Battle Ground, soph.
Having placed third at state last year at 106, Mountain View senior Brandon Huft entered Saturday as the favorite to win this weight class.

Maybe that was why Joner was so excited after he pinned Huft 1:36 into the championship match.

“I had wrestled him several times before and my position wasn’t good in those matches,” Joner said. “I knew I had to fight the hands and stay heavy on his head. Any bit I’d give him, I knew he’d take that a mile.”

Saturday was a good day for the Joner family. Chris’ sister Sierra won the 120-pound title in the girls’ competition.

126 – Derick Tollen, La Center, junior
Tollen had been bothered by a shoulder injury for the past two weeks. The injury was aggravated in the first round of Saturday’s championship match.

Tollen toughed it out. He beat Evergreen’s Isaiah Av 16-6, knocking off a defending champion and an eighth-place finisher at last year’s Mat Classic. Av himself suffered an elbow injury during the second round.

“It was pretty bad,” Tollen said. “But I saw that he was injured too. … Really the title doesn’t mean as much as knowing I’m good at what I do. I’ve been doing this my whole life.”

132 – J.J. Talavera, Union, soph.
A rested Talavera is a dangerous Talavera.

The sophomore thoroughly controlled his title match, beating Battle Ground’s Robert Gomulkiewicz 8-2.

That came after a bit of rest and refocusing between Saturday afternoon’s semifinals and that evening’s finals.

“My semi’s match, I didn’t get what I wanted,” Talavera said. “I was out of position the whole time. I went home, rested up.”

Talavera sometimes wrestles at a higher weight. He said cutting down to 132 presents some challenges.

“I have to get a good warmup in,” he said. “Right after weigh-in, I have to get all the fluids in. But then I’ve got to get with my training partners, get a good warmup and basically get my first match out of the way. By then, I usually feel pretty good.”

138 – Carlos Simon, Union, senior.
The defending champion won a hard-fought match over Columbia River’s Conner Thun, 6-4.

Simon said repeating as an individual champion wasn’t what made him the most proud Saturday.

“What means to most to me is my team,” he said. “It means a lot because we work hard and put the hours in the room. We’re just working on building that bond and gelling together.”

That bond was strong Saturday as Union won its sixth straight team title.

145 – Tommy Strassenberg, Union, soph.
On paper, the title match between Strassenberg and Camas senior Bryant Elliott looked like one of the best. Strassenberg placed fourth at Mat Classic last year and Elliott placed fifth.

It didn’t disappoint. Strassenberg won a tense match 5-3.

“He’s a tough guy,” Strassenberg said. “Going into it, you know you have to make your opportunities and take them when you can.”

Strassenberg said facing a state-caliber opponent Saturday is perfect preparation for the season’s stretch run.

“Those are the type of guys we’ll be wrestling at state,” he said. “To get that win is a big confidence booster.”

152 – Larry Anderson, Columbia River, junior.
After placing second last year, Anderson needed overtime to win his first county title. He beat Heritage senior Marcus Hendrickson 10-8.

In overtime, Anderson got low leverage and turned Hendrickson onto his head. From there, Anderson spun behind his opponent to collect the winning points.

“Those final seconds, my coach told me to do my best move,” Anderson said. “I tried my best move and it didn’t work. He took a shot and I did my best defense. Luckily, that put me on top.”

Asked to describe his best move, Anderson was mum.

“I don’t want people to know,” he said, laughing.

160 – Cameron Hutchison, Skyview, senior.
It was a takedown that shook the gym. That it happened against a defending champion who placed fifth at state made it more impressive.

Hutchison won by injury default over Union’s Michael Snediker. It was an evenly contested match into the second round.

And then it was over.

Hutchison turned Snediker over his hip and slammed him hard onto his back. The referee halted the match immediately.

Snediker lay on the mat for about three minutes gasping for breath. He appeared to be OK when awards were presented 15 minutes later.

“I was really nervous going against him,” Hutchison said. “My season has been good, but he’s the best competition I’ve faced so far. I have so much more confidence after beating one of the top guys in the state.”

170 – Luke Christensen, Union, senior.
Christiansen can’t say what move led to him pinning Mountain View’s Brandon Profitt 1:01 into the championship match. He just knows it worked.

“Quite honestly, I have no idea what that was,” he said. “I wish I knew. It was pretty cool. I had wrestled him before and when I got him on his back, I said ‘I’ve got him.’”

Christensen said it’s a great feeling to end a big match with a quick pin.

“It couldn’t feel better,” he said. “I love it.”

182 – Alex Berfanger, Union, senior.

The defending state champion at 170 pounds, Berfanger said he isn’t quite the same wrestler he was at last year’s Mat Classic.

“It was a littler guy at Mat Classic,” he said.

Berfanger has dealt with a groin injury since football season and a twisted ankle since the start of wrestling. Those have limited his ability to do the cardio work needed to wrestle at his preferred weight.

“I haven’t been in the best shape,” he said. “I’ve been working hard on the elliptical after practice the past two weeks. I think it showed in this match.”

Berfanger looked perfectly comfortable at 182 pounds, beating Woodland’s Nathan Cloud 15-4.

195 – Zach Berfanger, Union, junior.
It was a sweep for the Berfanger brothers. But the younger one’s victory was close as could be, a 2-1 overtime win over Prairie’s Jose Avila-Leal.

Tied 1-1 after regulation, Berfanger scored a point on an escape in the first 30-second overtime session, then prevented his opponent from getting an escape that would have tied the match.

“I scored the first point, so I knew I’d have the choice to stay down in the first overtime,” Berfanger said. “If he had escaped and tied the match, I knew I could have escaped in the third overtime to win. It all comes down to conditioning.”

220 – Dallas Goodpaster, Evergreen, junior.
Goodpaster is now 3-for-3 at the Clark County Wrestling Championships.

After wrestling for Prairie the past two seasons and finishing third in state last year, Goodpaster is now a Plainsman. He beat his Evergreen teammate Austin Wright 5-1 Saturday to win his third county title. Wright placed third in state and won the county title at 285 last year.

“It’s just another tournament,” Goodpaster said. “I approach it the same. I just work my best to win it. I felt pretty good about my execution throughout that match.”

285 – Tristan Bridges, Heritage, senior.
Blink and you might have missed Bridges wrestle. The senior scored four pins in four matches this weekend.

He needed all of 1 minute, 41 seconds of mat time to blitz through the heavyweight bracket.

He pinned Hockinson’s Aaron Burns in 20 seconds in Saturday’s final. He won the previous two matches in 11 seconds each.

Bridges’ first-round match was a marathon by comparison, taking a whopping 59 seconds. Bridges finished fifth at last season’s Mat Classic.

“You just keep moving forward, get somewhere that you’re comfortable, then go to work,” Bridges said, describing how he gets quick pins. “You push the tempo, then finish it.”

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