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Hillsboro teams dominate regionals

Hilhi wins a regional championship, with Glencoe and Century close behind in second and third place


FOREST GROVE — Dominant.

That’s probably the best word to describe the Hillsboro-area schools’ performances at the Class 6A Special District 1 wrestling tournament.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Hillsboro's T.J. Cavender wrestles Joe Kovachevich of Aloha in the 182-pound finals Saturday at the Special District 1 regional tournament.

A total of 27 wrestlers from Century, Glencoe and Hilhi posted top-four finishes and advanced to state from the competition, staged last Friday and Saturday at Forest Grove High School, and the three programs swept the top of the standings in the 11-team field. Impressively, Hillsboro-area wrestlers claimed almost half of the available 56 berths into this weekend’s Class 6A state tournament.

After a narrow second-place finish in 2013, the Spartans cruised to this year’s regional title with 358 points. They were followed by the Crimson Tide (291) and the Jaguars (257.5).

“Our main goal ... when we start the season is the state tournament,” Hilhi coach Adam Reese said. “If we compete for state, the region or district tournament will take care of itself. I gave the team a goal yesterday to come out, try to get 25 pins the first day, and they got 33. So that really put the team score away the first day.

“Today was a little bit rougher because, again, it’s about getting to the state tournament. And we were hoping to get more there than just 10.”

While Hilhi did advance 10 wrestlers to the state meet, they are a quality 10 — and Reese believes they all are capable of placing at state.

Eight were finalists on Saturday and five won their respective weight classes. Hilhi’s regional champions were Ruben Rodriguez-Saenz, Alex Hada, Hunter Morse, T.J. Cavender and Ben Kociemba.

Just a freshman, Rodriguez-Saenz heads into state as the top seed at 106 pounds after turning back Glencoe freshman Ian Stettler in a 2-0 decision in the regional final. Teammate Hada, a senior, also sports a No. 1 seed at state, his in the 152-pound bracket. He knocked off Glencoe junior Anthony Lambert in a 3-0 decision.

“I wrestle a bit more on the strong side, but he’s also really strong,” Hada said about Lambert. “What I was able to do is I just pushed myself a little bit more to get that first takedown and just keep holding on to that takedown.”

Kociemba, who earned a 14-9 decision against Century’s Lucas Scott in the 195-pound regional final, also is ranked No. 1 in the state seedings. Cavender, a 9-2 winner over Aloha’s Joe Kovachevich in the 182 regional final, will be the No. 2 seed at state. Morse, who squeaked out a 2-1 decision against Sunset’s Nathan Burnett to capture a regional title at 160, sports the No. 4 state seed in that bracket.

Hilhi’s other state qualifiers were Matt Peterson (second, 113), Joey Rodriguez (second, 126), Andy Downer (second, 132) Isaac Nakamoto (fourth, 182) and Jonathan Rodriguez (fourth, 285).

Glencoe walked away from Saturday’s competition with one champion in Nate Johnson, and 10 of his teammates are joining him at state.

A sophomore, Johnson posted an 8-2 decision against Peterson in the 113-pound regional final and is ranked second in the state bracket. Teammate Max McGee also qualified in that weight class with a third-place finish.

Other Tide state qualifiers include Stettler, Lambert, Sean Callahan (second, 170), Christian Chan (third, 126), Corey Neys (third, 195), Justice Racca (fourth, 126), Dominic Bacon (fourth, 145), Clayton Sargeant (fourth, 160) and Daniel Reyes-Hernandez (fourth, 195).

Century also showed its class last weekend. While the Jaguars advanced a relatively modest six wrestlers to state, three of them picked up victories and two more were finalists.

Brennan Baccay takes a No. 3 seeding into state after having knocked off Joey Rodriguez for the third time this season. In the 126-pound regional final, Baccay recorded a 6-2 decision against Rodriguez, who finished third at state in the same weight class in 2013.

“He just danced around, and I waited for him,” Baccay said. “And then when he came in, I took my shots.”

Amari Sengsavanh has earned the top seed at 132 pounds after getting a measure of revenge on Downer in the regional final.

Last month at the Reser’s Tournament of Champions, Downer put an end to Sengsavanh’s undefeated season while making a run to the championship match. In the rematch, Sengsavanh picked up a 13-10 decision.

The Jaguars’ third champion was Ryley Bilderbeck, who recorded pins in all four regional matches, including one in the first round against Beaverton’s Torben Billow in the 145 final.

“It feels awesome,” said Bilderbeck, who won his first regional title and is the state No. 2 seed. “It feels like my hard work has finally paid off. Putting in those extra hours finally has done something for me.”

Century’s other state qualifiers were Scott, Jamarcus Grant (third, 170) and Andrew Horton (second, 220).

Undoubtedly, the regional was an impressive showing for the city, something not lost on Reese.

“I truly believe wrestling is the sport of Hillsboro,” Reese said. “No one works harder than a Hillsboro kid. I don’t say that just Hillsboro High School, but the Hillsboro community. That’s from being a Hillsboro community member myself and growing up in Hillsboro. That excites me.”

The first round of the Class 6A state wrestling tournament kicks off at 8:30 this morning at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, and matches resume at the same time on Saturday.

Semifinals will begin at 9:45 Saturday morning, with championship matches starting at 6:30 p.m.



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