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Ceja battles to third place at state tourney


The Tigard senior wins 5 straight after a first-round loss

by: DAN BROOD - READY FOR ACTION -- Tigard High School senior Victor Ceja (left) gets ready to lock up with North Salem's Austin Shoopman Saturday at the Class 6A state tournament.PORTLAND — It wasn’t exactly how Victor Ceja wanted to start the state tournament.

But his finish couldn’t have been any better.

Ceja, a Tigard High School senior, lost ball fall in the opening match of the Class 6A state wrestling tournament. But he came back strong, winning five straight bouts in the consolation bracket to claim third place in the 285-pound weigh class at the tourney held Friday and Saturday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

“It’s good,” Ceja said after scoring a 2-1 overtime decision win over West Linn’s Ellis Eaton in Saturday’s 285-pound third-place match. “It’s my senior year, and I wanted to show myself that I could place. I worked really hard for this. I wanted to get first, but I’ll take third.”

Ceja was one of four Tigard wrestlers to compete at the state event.

“That’s good,” Tigard coach Geoff Jarman said. “Those guys worked hard to get here.”

Ceja certainly had to work hard to get where he got at the state tournament.

Ceja, the No. 1 seed at 285 pounds, lost his opening match, losing by fall to Aidan McGowan of Roseburg in a time of 5 minutes and 44 seconds.

To make matters worse, Ceja also suffered an ankle injury in that bout.

The injury hampered him throughout the tournament.

“It was the same thing — ice, tape, cut the tape and wrestle,” Ceja said. “Over and over.”

But that didn’t seem to slow him down.

Ceja bounced back from the opening loss to pin Forest Grove’s Christian Rincon in a time of 4:40 in a consolation first-round match. In the consolation second round, Ceja scored a 5-1 decision win over Noah Spencer of Westview.

Saturday morning, in a consolation third-round match, with a state placing spot on the line, Ceja, getting a second-round reversal and a third-round takedown, posted a 4-0 decision win over Austin Shoopman of North Salem.

Ceja kept rolling in the consolation semifinals, getting a 1-0 decision win over No. 2 seed Cortez Rodelo of Aloha. Ceja scored the only point of the match with an escape coming with 1 minute and 43 seconds left in the second round.

The state tourney third-place match was a rematch of the finals of the Tigard Tournament, where Ellis got a decision win over Ceja.

The West Linn senior struck first in the rematch, taking a 1-0 lead with an escape coming with 1:32 left in the second round. Ceja came back to tie the score, at 1-1, with an escape with 1:53 to go in the third round.

Neither wrestler was able to score after that, sending the match to a 1-minute sudden victory overtime round. With 34 seconds left in overtime, Ellis was whistled for a technical violation, as he grabbed Ceja’s head gear. The penalty point gave Ceja a 2-1 victory, and third place.

“Victor showed a lot of courage,” Jarman said. “And he wrestled real well.”

“I had to fight all the way back,” Ceja said. “This is my last year, and I wanted to really work hard. I practiced hard with JJ (Tigard senior Justin Jackson) all season.”

Jackson, also wrestling in the 285-pound weight class, found some success at the state tournament.

Jackson opened the tourney by scoring a 7-6 decision win over Zack Caddock of Roseburg in a first-round match. In the championship quarterfinals, Jackson lost a 6-2 decision to Mike McGuire of Centennial.

In the consolation first round, Jackson bounced back to pin Crater’s Mark Rios in 38 seconds. In the consolation second round, Jackson lost by fall to Ellis in a time of 4:46.

“JJ wrestled well,” Jarman said. “He had a good tournament, especially for someone who started wrestling halfway through his sophomore year. He was third string for us last year, but, this year, he decided that he was good.”

Tigard senior Zack Vollstedt wrestled at 152 pounds at the state tournament. He lost to Kjell Thorsen of Grants Pass by fall in a first-round match. He then fell to West Linn’s Jacob Taylor in a consolation first-round bout.

Tigard senior Phil Engel competed at state in the 160-pound weight class. He fell to Roseburg’s Ian Thomas in a first-round match and then was edged, 13-9, but Sunset’s Logan Lachenmeier in a consolation first-round match.

Tigard, with 20 points, finished in 27th place in the team standings at the state tournament. Roseburg claimed the Class 6A state team title.