Five Oak Ridge wrestlers advance to state meet

By: Matt Long
-A +A
Five Oak Ridge wrestlers will compete at the state tournament in Bakersfield on Friday and Saturday. Kyle West, who finished second at the state meet last year, will be going for the title at 140 pounds, after placing third as last week’s Masters Tournament in Stockton. Nick Rohrer, Vince Waldhauser, Joey Pacific and Kavon Tillotson will join West at the state tournament. Oak Ridge coach Rocco Cardinale said he was very pleased to have five wrestlers advance to the state meet, the most ever by an Oak Ridge team, according to Cardinale. Rohrer was Oak Ridge’s top finisher at the Masters Tournament, as he placed second at 160 pounds. Rohrer won his first three matches with pins, before pulling out a narrow 5-3 win over Folsom’s Adam Lymath in the semifinals. In the finals against Vacaville’s Adam Delagarza, Rohrer lost a 12-6 decision. “I wasn’t happy because I didn’t win, but I guess second place is better than any place below it,” Rohrer said. “I had never wrestled Delagarza before, but I knew I had to avoid his cradle and that’s one thing I didn’t do. He caught me in a front headlock and then put me in a cradle.” Even though Rohrer lost the match by six points, he felt the match was closer than the score indicates. “I felt that I outwrestled him and I’d be confident if I ran into again this week.” “Nick got caught early on in the match and then had to play catch-up,” Cardinale said. “Nick was coming on and was aggressive. He got the score to 7-5 and then cut him loose with about 35 seconds left. He had to go for it and he did, but it didn’t work out for him. He gave it a good effort though.” Rohrer lost both his matches at the state meet last season, but he said this year will be different. “I was too serious last year and wasn’t myself,” Rohrer said. “I’m going to relax this year and be my goofy self.” West was dominant throughout the tournament, the only blemish coming against last year’s state champion and this year’s Masters champion Vlad Dombrovsky, who defeated West handily, 10-3. “Vlad’s a buddy of mine and he’s good,” West said. “I wasn’t in the right mindset for that match and after this tournament I think I’ve gotten things figured out.” Cardinale added, “Kyle just got behind and never got into a rhythm. I know he can wrestle him better if he sees him again.” West rebounded from the loss quite well, though, as he earned a 17-2 technical fall over Ponderosa’s Aaron DeMay and then whipped Del Oro’s Jesse Stafford, 12-2, who had beaten West the previous week at divisionals. “It’s all mental for me,” West said. “Sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to win. I just need to relax. My biggest battle is in my mind. If I just go out and wrestle and not worry about it I’ll do fine.” West has been disappointed in his senior year so far, saying he’s yet to wrestle his best. After placing second last year, anything other than a state title would be a big disappointment. “I’m pretty confident,” West said. “Obviously, I want to win it and I know I can, but now I’ve just got to go out and do it.” Like West, Waldhauser only lost one match during the tournament, dropping a 10-5 decision to Folsom’s eventual champion, Jordan Hart. “I lost the match I didn’t want to lose,” Waldhauser said. “I should have pushed the issue a bit more because I think I’m in better shape than him. If I would have done that I think I would have won.” Waldhauser was trailing 5-4 with about a minute left in the bout and let Hart up with the hopes of taking him down again. However, it was Hart who got the takedown and more to win the match by five. “Hart is very strong and powerful, but Vince was in the match,” Cardinale added. “He was behind by two and gave it a shot at the end, but Hart countered him and scored.” Waldhauser rebounded to win his last two bouts to place third. “I’m really excited to go to the state meet,” Waldhauser said. “I really want to place and if I can get top-three that would be great.” Pacific and Tillotson both placed sixth at 119 and 285, respectively. Pacific won four of his first five matches, before losing his last two. Tillotson wrestled extremely well early in the tournament, winning his first three matches before losing three in a row. The highlight of his tournament was his 10-4 win over Dimitrius Berry of Vallejo. “Kavon was unbelievable in that match,” Cardinale said. “He had great technique and was doing everything right against a guy who’s been ranked this year. I was really impressed with him.” Oak Ridge’s Greg Barrier (125), Josh Dawson (130), Kyle Sundby (152) and Lukas Wilmore (171) all won two matches, but did not advance to the state meet. Cameron Miller (103) won one match, while Trey Reese went 0-2 at 112. Cardinale said he thinks all of his wrestlers can place at the state tournament. “At the state tournament it’s important to take every match one at a time,” Cardinale said. “If you feel strong and you’re in it mentally, anyone guy we’re sending is capable of doing well and making some noise.” For West, Rohrer and Pacific, being at last year’s tournament should help them this year, according to Cardinale. “Vince has also wrestled in really big tournaments and been successful,” Cardinale said. “I think all our guys are capable of placing if they’re on their game.”