Tuesday, January 31, 2012/lk
After a week-plus off, the Hood River Valley wrestling team gets back in the swing of things in a big way this weekend.
The Eagles host the Hood River Elks Memorial tournament all day Saturday at Vannet Court, against some of the top teams in the state. Teams attending the tournament include Barlow, Century, Centennial, Cleveland, Churchill, Elmira, McMinnville, Reynolds, Parkrose, Riverside, Silverton, The Dalles-Wahtonka, Tillamook, Wilson, Wilsonville and Columbia from White Salmon.
The Eagles and Elmira will have two cracks at each other in two days. After a tournament in Stevenson was snowed out last Saturday, HRV wrestled Elmira in dual meet Friday night.
"The mats were already going to be in the gym, and there were no basketball games, so we said 'Hey, let's do it,'" HRV coach Trent Kroll said.
For the Eagles the tournament will be an important measure as the stretch run of the season begins.
"This is our first bracketed tournament since Dec. 9-10," Kroll said. "As we continue to peak, this is our first step to getting ready for district."
Wrestling in a large bracket tournament gives the Eagles, a team which is not loaded with state experience, the chance to adjust to a different mentality.
"You've got to be ready to compete, even when you might not be wrestling until noon," Kroll said. "This is an important part of our season."
The week off from competition and organized practice did give the Eagles a chance to rest up and get some injuries healed.
Among those coming back from injury is junior heavyweight Brandon Dominguez, who had missed the bulk of the season due to injury before getting back in the action at the Oregon Classic earlier this month.
"I'm all healed up," Dominguez said. "It's been tough but I just have to work extra hard."
Dominguez, currently ranked No. 10 at 5A as a heavyweight, has one of the more difficult brackets. He will face defending 4A state champ Kyle Smith of Elmira and No. 3-ranked Will Dawson of Churchill.
Despite the layoff in the middle of the season, Kroll said he had been checking in with the team when there was no practice to see how everyone was doing.
"They are confident," he said. "Even with us missing practices they have all been working hard."