As the season wears on, more and more Riverhawk grapplers are loading up podium spots.
Steven Preston garnered runner-up status and improved his season record to 8-2, and the quartet of Aiden Marx, Mauricio Carrera, Taylor Morehouse and Ben Nelson locked down top-6 finishes to help The Dalles finish in a tie for eighth place at Tigard Invitational this past Saturday.
“This weekend, all the boys showed great improvement,” said TD assistant coach Ryan Manciu. “It was the best I’ve seen them wrestle so far. The way things are going, I feel that they’re going to be peaking right at the right time.”
All nine Riverhawk grapplers posted at least one win and one pin on the day and six chalked up multiple victories, led by Preston and Nelson with three apiece.
Preston, a 170-pound senior, made a strong opening statement in his first match of the day.
Both Preston and Tigard’s Uriah Subia shook hands, the official blew the whistle and then the Riverhawk senior laid out Subia for the pin, just 15 seconds in.
In the quarterfinals, Preston subdued West Salem’s Cooper Johnson by fall in the second round (3:43) and then bested Everett Chiles (13-4 record), of Madison, with a close 7-4 decision.
Vying for a tournament title, Preston went to work against Sprague’s Cole Bacheller (18-6 record), and the Olympian wrestler got the pin victory at the 1:39 mark of the first round.
At 160 pounds, Marx secured a 2-2 record to earn fourth place and 15 of the team’s 88 points.
Marx claimed a first-round pin in his opening match versus Andre Cazares (Beaverton), and then in the quarterfinals won by injury default over Ryan Burri (St Helens) nine seconds into action.
Staked to a semifinals berth, Marx lost in one minute by pin in a bout with Marshall Rodenbeck (Wilsonville), which meant that the Riverhawk youngster had to fight for third place against Beaverton’s Vinny Vanzuylen.
Vanzuylen tallied the first-round pin at 1:06 to tally third place and give Marx fourth place.
Coming off an impressive 3-0 effort at last week’s Beisell Dual Tournament, while going up a weight class (195), Carrera went to work at 182 pounds and finished 1-2.
Following a bye, Carrera (4-2 record) pinned Maria Reeder (Beaverton) at 1:54 of the first round to cruise into the semifinals.
From there, however, Carrera had a tough challenge in his next matches versus Sprague’s Owen Scott (20-9 record) and Stan Cernev (17-6 record).
The Riverhawk senior suffered a heart-breaking 12-11 decision against Scott, and then was pinned by Cernev at 1:37.
For his weekend performance, Morehouse (182 pounds) moved above .500 on the year at 10-9 and took fifth place after a 2-1 finish.
After a bye, Morehouse lost his quarterfinal bout with Sprague’s Cernev by pin at 5:58 of the third round, and following a bye, got back on track in the consolation semifinals.
Morehouse had an easy time against Liberty’s Isaac Bland with a pin in less than 30 seconds and then he added his second consecutive pin, beating Cason Benson (Liberty) in the first round (1:44).
Nelson, a senior wrestling at 152 pounds, had a marathon of a day with a team-high five matches overall, and he went 3-2 to lock down sixth place.
The second-year grappler pinned Silvestre Mendez (Beaverton) at the 1:34 mark of the first round in his opening match, but then lost by third-round pin versus Madison’s Lane Shaffer (5:49).
That quarterfinals loss put Nelson into the consolation bracket, where he claimed two straight wins to advance for a chance at fifth place.
Nelson pinned Beaverton’s Gerardo Fernandez (44 seconds) and reeled off a close 6-5 decision win over Samuel Marley (Sprague).
With fifth place up for grabs, Nelson wound up taking a first-round pinfall loss (34 seconds) in a match with Cody Coppinger (Tigard).
Marx and Nelson were entrenched in two quality weight classes against quality opponents, so their placing was a nice thing for coach Manciu to see from this promising duo.
“Aiden and Ben had some tough matches and they both fought through it to place in a tough 6A tournament,” coach Manciu said.
Although they did not place, TD’s quartet of Zak Tackett (113), Angel Oregon (120), Conor Blair (126) and Ophath Silaphath (170) combined to go 6-8 with four pins, an injury default and an overtime triumph.
Tackett (11-8 record) started with a third-round pin of Blake Gohlmann (St Helens) at the 5:57 mark, but then lost in the quarterfinals versus Sprague’s Bo Davis (23-7 record) by a 15-0 technical fall after two rounds.
Settled in on the consolation side, Tackett engaged in an overtime thriller against Liberty’s Emerald Koeppel.
Both wrestlers fought to a 6-6 standstill through six minutes of action, until Tackett scored a takedown and a nearfall to grab the 11-6 win.
As dramatic as that match was, Tackett had to notch one more win to get a chance to place.
Tackett went up against Wilsonville’s Kaden Kramer, and the Wildcat grappler came away with a close 9-7 decision.
In the 120-pound division, Oregon picked up a pair of wins, the first coming by injury default.
Oregon then lost to St. Helens’ Narcizo Garza (20-7 record) by pin (1:51), and bounced back for a second-round pin win (2:39) over Jeimer Gonzalez (St Helens).
Just like Tackett, Oregon had to defeat Springfield’s Fernando Gonzalez in the consolation semifinals to grab a podium spot, however, Gonzalez dashed those dreams with a second-round pin at 2:44.
Conor Blair (3-6 record) wrestled at 126 pounds and wound up taking one win against Beaverton’s Deepa Monger in less than 30 seconds, and then lost in the consolation semifinals by pin at 5:02 of the third round versus Carsen Taylor (Tigard).
Ophath Silaphath (3-4 record) had one win on the day in the consolation round, versus Eduardo Ruiz-Fernandez (22 seconds), but lost in the second round of the consolation semifinals against St. Helens’ Gannon Carter (2:00).
“We are so proud of all the boys for what they did this weekend,” Manciu said. “We had five place and another four come so close to placing, so they are getting there.”
The Dalles had a novice dual meet versus Hood River Valley and Pendleton Tuesday in Hood River, and heads to the Elks Memorial Tournament at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Hood River.
At 8 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22 at Ridgeview High School in Redmond, the IMC Conference Championships take place.