After pulling out a dominant performance in Districts on Feb. 9, in which Tillamook Wrestling took their eighth straight District Title, the Cheesemakers headed to Scappoose to take on the rest of the teams in the 4A Special District 1 Regional meet.
The addition of a North Marion, Gladstone, Molalla and Estacada to teams they wrestled in Districts didn't slow down the Cheesemakers. If anything, the extra competition sparked the 25 qualified Tillamook wrestlers to their best efforts. When it was all over, Tillamook had left a trail of broken and bruised opponents in their wake as they marched to a third straight Regional Championship.
Like they've done all season, Tillamook put together a team effort, scoring 289 points. Scappoose was the next closest team with 221.5 and Estacada ended in third with 148 points.
To qualify for the State Meet on Feb. 22-23 At the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, wrestlers had to place in the top four at Regionals. Of the 25 wrestlers Tillamook brought to the tournament, 17 of them ended in the top four to make State with seven wrestlers making it to the finals and two Cheesemakers winning the Regional Title.
The State qualifying Tillamook wrestlers were: Justin Coon finishing third at 106; Austin Werner finishing third at 113; Anthony Imel taking fourth at 120; Logan Weeks taking first at 132; Kody Pruilehre taking second at 132; Jake Fowler taking second at 138; Drew Owens taking third at 138; Ronald Allen taking third at 152; Micha Kawano taking fourth at 152; Jonas Ayala-Sanchez taking first at 160; Myron More taking second at 170; Billy Prince taking third at 170; Jordan Thompson taking second at 182; Rafael Gomez taking second of at 195; Marcus Cheney taking first at 220; Jose Santiago taking second at 285; and Dylan Jackman taking fourth at 285.
“Seventeen State qualifiers is about the number we were looking for,” said Tillamook head coach Lonnie Eggert. “We didn't get all the ones I thought we'd get but because of some really tough weight classes, and we lost some close matches, but we did get a few guys who wrestled really well and stepped up to qualify.”
All season Eggert has stresses the teamwork and all-for-one mentality this year’s team has. That unselfish attitude has never been more obvious than it was for Tillamook in the 138 pound weight class.
Jake Fowler and Drew Owens are both very talented wrestlers for the Cheesemakers at 138 pounds with Fowler being the high ranked wrestler going into the meet. Fowler dislocated his elbow in practice a few days before the meet, but he wasn't about to give up. With his injured arm heavily wrapped, Fowler still took the mat for his first match in hopes of qualifying for State. With one arm, Fowler beat his opponent 8-2 and was matched up against his teammate Owens in his next match. A win would qualify Fowler for State. A loss and he'd have to wrestle back for a shot at qualifying. Owens willfully forfeited his match to Fowler to qualify Fowler then wrestled his own way back to a qualifying spot.
“Drew has already beat the kid who took first place and he had a chance to win Regionals but he sacrificed that for a teammate,” Eggert explained. “We had a lot of confidence in Drew's ability to qualify and this spoke volumes about his character.”
“We had a lot of other great performances too. Dylan Jackman wrestled out of his mind to make it to State and Jose Santiago beat a very good No. 1 to reach the finals. Markus Cheney wrestled really well to win his class. Rafael Gomez did a great job at 195. Jordan Thompson looked good taking second place.
“We've been working hard and since January we've been putting things together and wrestling as well as well as we can with this group.”
Now that State is right around the corner, Tillamook has their work cut out for them at State with Crook County and Henley qualifying as many or more wrestlers at Tillamook.
“We want to be a top four trophy team,” Eggert said. “If we wrestle well, we can do it. Without Jake, it's going to be hard, but our other guys will step up. There's no reason to think they wont. That's how this program works.”