Tiger senior Victor Ceja tips Justin Jackson for the title

by: DAN BROOD - TRIUMPHANT TIGERS -- Tigard High School senior Justin Jackson (right) hugs teammate Victor Ceja following their 285-pound title match Saturday at the regional tournament. Ceja scored a 1-0 decision win. KEIZER — It was just like any Tigard High School wrestling practice.

That means that Tigard senior heavyweights Victor Ceja and Justin Jackson were battling back and forth, trying to get an upper hand against each other.

However, this time, things were a little different.

This time, Ceja and Jackson were battling at the Special District 3 regional tournament, and they were battling for the tournament championship.

And, in that all-Tigard 285-pound regional championship match, Ceja came away as a 1-0 decision victor. But both he and Jackson were flashing winning smiles after the bout.

“That felt like a normal practice,” Jackson said after the match. “It was a normal, fun day.”

“It was normal,” Ceja added. “But having two guys from Tigard in the finals made it special. That was pretty fun.”

Ceja and Jackson will have a chance to have some more fun, as they’ll next be competing at the Class 6A state tournament. The top four finishers in each weight class at the regional tourney advance to compete at the state event, which will be held Feb. 28-March 1 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

“We hope to meet in the finals again,” Ceja said.

Ceja and Jackson will be joined at the state tournament by senior teammates Zack Vollstedt, who placed fourth at 152 pounds at the regional tournament, and Phil Engel, who placed fourth at 160.

But the highlight for the Tigers at the regional event had to be the showdown for the 285-pound title.

In that match, Ceja and Jackson battled to a scoreless tie at the end of the first round. Ceja, who placed second at 285 pounds at last year’s regional tourney, scored on an escape four seconds into the second round to take a 1-0 lead. Neither Tigard senior was able to score again in the DAN BROOD - TIGER TUSSLE -- Tigard seniors Victor Ceja (right) and Justin Jackson do battle in the 285-pound match Saturday during the finals of the Special District 3 regional tournament, held at McNary High School.

Jackson opted to start in the down position to start the third round. Ceja was able to keep him down the entire two minutes of the round to get the 1-0 victory and the regional crown.

“That feels good,” Ceja said of the championship. “But I’m looking forward to state. This is just a step.”

Ceja opened the tourney by scoring a 3-1 decision win over Sprague’s Eric Guerrero. In the quarterfinals, Ceja needed just 13 seconds to pin Eric Coria of Sprague. He then bested Austin Shoopman of North Salem by a 5-0 score in the semifinals.

After receiving a first-round bye, Jackson opened tourney action by pinning McNary’s Steven Wilkerson in overtime, in 7:03, in a quarterfinal match. In the semifinals, Jackson pinned Dallas O’Bryan of Newberg in 5:48 to earn his spot in the finals.

“I think the big thing for me this year is that I’ve improved a lot,” said Jackson, who placed fourth at last year’s regional tourney. “I’m more confident.”

Vollstedt his first two matches at the tournament, pinning Sprague’s Matthew Patterson and Newberg’s Colin Hyatt, before falling to McMinnville’s J.T. Barnes in the semifinals.

But Vollstedt earned his state bid by pinning Sprague’s Sergei Poliakov in 1:01 in a consolation semifinal bout. In the third-place match, Vollstedt fell to McMinnville’s Alex Kiess.

Engel had to take a longer path to earn his state berth. He opened the tourney by getting a pin against Jose Barcenas of South Salem in a first-round match. But Engel then fell to Sprague’s Troy Dunn in the quarterfinals.

In the consolation bracket, Engel scored an 8-0 major decision over Tualatin’s Chishamiso Chinkae and then he got an 11-2 major decision win over McNary’s Jonathon Salcido. That put Engel in the consolation semifinals, where he got a 7-4 decision win over McMinnville’s Josh Blanchard to get the state bid.

Engel fell to Newberg’s Zane Burgess in the third-place match.

Also for Tigard at the regional tournament, junior Omar Duran-Vega placed fifth at 113 pounds. Junior Eli Neely was fifth at 170 pounds.

“We had some good performances,” Tigard coach Geoff Jarman said. “He had six placers and are taking four to state. Last year, we took three to state.”

Tigard finished in sixth place in the team standings at the regional tourney with a score of 172.5 points. Newberg won the regional team title.

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