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Wrestlers dominate at district

The Sandy wrestling team crowns five individual district champions on its run to the team title


by: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Sandys Dakota Peterson started the teams title run with a championship at 120 pounds, beating Putnams Brice McDonald by a 17-6 major decision. The Sandy wrestling team has been no stranger to adversity this season. The Pioneers have experienced everything from injuries to the loss of their beloved coach in November. As turbulent as the last few months have been, Sandy has risen above every challenge. The Pioneers vindicated their ability to overcome as they defended as district champions on Saturday.

Sandy dominated the rest of the Northwest Oregon Conference at Wilsonville over the weekend and tallied 355 team points to finish more than 100 points ahead of second-place Sherwood.

The Pioneers crowned five individual district champions on their journey to the top of the mountain and had three others advance to the finals.

Dakota Peterson claimed Sandy’s first individual title in the 120-pound weight division. Peterson skated through his first three matches, winning all by fall in less than 2:30.

In the finals, Peterson drew Putnam’s Brice McDonald, a wrestler he owned earlier in the year. Peterson had no trouble scoring at will against McDonald with a host of takedowns and near-falls. Regardless of the score, Peterson continued in earnest to get the pin. He almost had it at the end of the third round, but the referee slapped the mat just after the buzzer sounded. It wasn’t a pin, but it was still a win by major decision for Peterson (17-6).

“I pinned him in the first round the first time I wrestled him, but he came out today a much better wrestler. I have a lot of respect for him,” Peterson said. “I wanted to get the pin to prove I am No. 1, but I have to give that kid props for making it go all three rounds. I’m still excited that I came away victorious.”

Peterson is seeded third in the state tournament and is slated to face Woodburn’s Temoatzin Lopez in the first round.

Sandy’s Garrett Rotzien joined Peterson in the winners’ circle as he climbed his way to the top of the 145-pound bracket. He didn’t get much of a challenge in his first two matches, but had to face Liberty’s Michael Feltman in the semifinals. The two wrestlers found themselves locked in a dogfight. Rotzien and Feltman were knotted at 6-6 at the end of the third round and had to go to overtime. Neither wrestler scored in the one-minute overtime period and went to a second overtime. Rotzien escaped with the one necessary point to win 7-6 to advance to the finals.

After prevailing in the semis, Rotzien cruised to a 13-5 major-decision victory over Sherwood’s Garret Heckenberg to claim the title. He will meet Lebanon’s Tanner Sallee in Round 1 of the state tournament.

Sandy junior Spencer Barnett (160 pounds) had a bumpier championship match than Peterson or Rotzien. Barnett faced Sherwood’s Andrew Rice who he lost to in overtime earlier in the season. Rice was apparently peeved that Barnett took an early lead and head-butted the Pioneer in the nose. Barnett had to fight a bloody nose for the rest of the match, but he never let Rice take the lead. The score was tied in the third round when Rice again head-butted Barnett. He was assessed a penalty that broke the tie. Barnett held his new lead over a frantic Rice and won 7-5.

“I’m excited to get another chance at him and I was ready for revenge,” Barnett said. “I was nervous the first time and I wrestled not to lose. This time I wrestled to win, and there is a big difference.”

Barnett earned a No. 3 seed at state and opens the tournament against Justin Vinton from Bend.

Devin White (170 pounds) and Jeremy Funk (182 pounds) followed up Barnett’s thriller with two convincing wins. Both White and Funk pinned their opponents in the second round to make it three straight individual titles for Sandy. Like Peterson and Barnett, White and Funk are seeded third in their brackets at state. White will go up against South Albany’s Dakota Carter and Funk will spar with Pendleton’s Tanner Yeager.

Sandy had 15 wrestlers place in the top four of their weight divisions to qualify for state. The state tournament gets under way on Friday morning at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.