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Eagles finish season in control

By ADAM LAPIERRE

News staff writer

February 8, 2006

The dual meet season for Hood River Valley’s wrestling Eagles ended under the light Friday night against Bend High School. For seniors Jose Ramirez, Kevin Dye, Leo Gonzalez, Tim Hampton, Ricky Schmidt, Sal Ledezma and Hector Gonzalez, the dual held special importance, as it would be their last home show as members of the team.

Following a special presentation to honor the seven seniors and their parents, the dual kicked off with the 103 pounders. And 13 weight classes later, the dual intensified to a 30-30 tie, with heavyweight Alex Titus as the last man standing for the Eagles and Joe Hauser battling for Bend. The winner of the match would take the dual for his team, and 31 seconds after the two shook hands, the referee slammed his hand on the mat, calling the pin for an elated Titus and company.

The 36-30 win did not come solely at the hands of Titus, however, as it took wins from six other Eagles to seal the deal. Gage Morris started the score rolling in the right direction, with a well-fought 13-7 decision. At 112, Ramirez did not savor his final moments under the spotlight. His match would end in only a minute and a half, with Ramirez picking up his 26th win and his 12th pin of the season.

The Eagles were forced to forfeit at 119 lbs. At 125 Julio Avila lost a disappointing battle by fall in the final period. With tough matches at 130 and 135, the Eagles lost the lead with half the dual remaining. Dye battled six minutes at 135 and came up three points short against a very solid Neal Langston.

Gonzales followed with a technical match and an eventual third round pin, picking up six points for Hood River and bringing the team scores back together. In his fastest fall of the season, John Phillips shocked the crowd to its feet with a 45-second pin, cutting short what looked to be an intense butting of heads.

Justin Tolentino put in a solid effort at 152, battling to a 10-6 loss. After Erick Lujano picked up a forfeit at 160, JJ Johnson stepped up for the longest, most exciting matches of the night. After grappling to a 4-4 tie in regulation, the match went into a do-or-die overtime: whoever scored first won. Johnson sprawled hard on his opponent, who had a deep single-leg. Both wrestlers teetered on the edge of exhaustion, and neither would give up. In the end Johnson lost position and was taken down.

The loss brought the team score back to a tie, with three matches remaining. Lucas Mondragon slipped away with a 4-3 win over an opponent with shoulders like gumby and at 215 Cory Miller battled a bloody nose and a bear of an opponent for a two point loss, bringing the score to a tie once again.

With the weight of the meet resting on the shoulders of the heavyweights; the rest is history.

The Hood River Invitational

Adequate rest is a luxury wrestlers don’t always have. After finishing late Friday night, the boys set up the gym that night for the Hood River Invitational, which took place the following day. The tournament was a dual-meet format, with the Eagles taking on Dallas and Oregon City high schools. Three dual meets in less than 24 hours posed a challenge for the boys, and they came through in fine form. They downed Dallas 49-15 in the first round Saturday. In the finals they edged Oregon City 39-30 to win their second at-home tournament this season.

The boys have this week to recover and fine tune their techniques for the fast-at-hand Intermountain Conference district tournament, which is set to start at 12:15 p.m. Friday at Crook County High School. Saturday will feature the final rounds, with wrestling starting at 10 a.m. and the finals and consolation finals starting at 5 p.m.

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