West leads Trojans at Ironman Tournament

By: Matt Long
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Kyle West led a contingent of five Oak Ridge wrestlers back to Ohio to compete in the Ironman Wrestling Tournament, by all accounts one of the toughest scholastic wrestling tournaments in the nation. West won three of six matches and placed eighth in the 140-pound weight class. Many wrestlers would be happy with that in such a tough tournament, West was not. “I wrestled horribly,” West said. “I’m really upset with how I did. My goal was to win the tournament and after I lost to the No. 1 guy in the country, I lost my heart and it was hard for me to bounce back.” West won his first match by technical fall and then his second, 4-2, but was then caught and pinned in the first period by Pennsylvania’s Dylan Alton, last year’s Junior National Champion. “I was impressed with him as much as anybody I’ve ever seen,” Oak Ridge coach Rocco Cardinale said of Alton. “He caught Kyle in a front head lock position, caught him off-balance and put him in a tough position and pinned him. I think it was a good experience for Kyle.” West won his next match by pin, but then suffered a 6-4 overtime loss. In his final match, West lost 2-0 and placed eighth. Though he wasn’t pleased with his finish, West did earn All-American status by placing in the top-eight. “It motivates me even more, and I’m not going to have any trouble getting back to work,” West said. “I’m going to focus on what it takes to be a national champion and I’m not going to stop working until I get it.” Another Oak Ridge senior, Joey Pacific, won two of four matches at 119 pounds. After dropping his first match by technical fall, Pacific won his next two bouts, 7-3 and 8-3, before losing his final match 1-0. Sophomore Vinny Waldhauser also turned in a strong performance, winning three of five matches and finishing one win away from placing in the tournament. Waldhauser picked up a pin in his first match and then lost his second to the eventual runner-up, 7-5, before winning a pair of matches 13-2 and 7-3. Waldhauser lost his final match 6-3. “I was very impressed with Vinny,” Cardinale said. “For a sophomore to do that well in that tournament was great.” Senior Kyle Sundby wrestled three matches at 152 pounds and came home with one win by pin, not bad for only having a week of practice under his belt coming off the extended football season. Fellow senior Nick Rohrer, who wasn’t feeling well even before he left for the tournament, lost both his matches at 160 pounds, 4-1 and 8-5. “This is the most competitive and prestigious in-season tournament in the country, in my opinion,” Cardinale said. “You have to apply to get into it. To me it’s tougher than a state tournament. “No doubt that having these five guys there will help our team. To face that level of that competition in that environment, it was well worth it to go.” West agreed. “It’s the toughest tournament that any of us have been to. We know what we have to do to reach that level and we’re just going to push everyone else in the room. We know what we’re working for.” Oak Ridge opens its league schedule on Wednesday when they host Galt at 6 p.m. On Saturday the team competes in the Nighthawk Duals at Natomas High School.