Wrestlers get some help in winning Pac Coast titles

All have goals of eventually reaching podium at state

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor



From the grandstand, it looked like Jose Nava-Montez, Ramon Ortiz, Kenji Yamashita and Gunnar Metzger each won titles at the Pacific Coast Championships wrestling tournament on their own.

But each wrestler admitted to having some help Saturday at Hudson’s Bay High School.

“This was the first time my uncle and my mother have been able to watch me wrestle,” said Nava-Montez, a senior from Skyview. “So I had some added pressure to do well here.”

Nava-Montez did that, winning the 106-pound division title with a 17-3 victory over Isiah Av of Evergreen.

“I was hurt last year and didn’t compete here, so just to come in here and place would have been good for me,” Nava-Montez said.

Metzger of Hudson’s Bay got his motivation after watching his teammate Aaron Blaine lose in the semifinals at 145 pounds.

“Aaron has been dealing with some (health) issues this year that have limited him, and you could see that in his semifinal match,” Metzger said. “Once he lost, I knew it was on me to represent our team well and get the win.”

Metzger took the title at 152 pounds with a 9-2 win over Spencer Crawford of Cascade-Everett.

Like Nava-Montez, Metzger did not place at the Pac Coast last year. Now, his goal is to reach the podium at state.

“It’s a long way to get that podium, but I feel good with how things are going now,” Metzger said. “I’ve won my last 10 matches, and that keeps me motivated to keep working hard.”

Ramon Ortiz of Evergreen is trying to bounce back from some early-season losses to get his season back on track. He got some help last week from former teammates, state champions Matthew and Michael Nguyen.

“The twins were back in town from college this week, and they were helping me get ready for this tournament,” Ortiz said. “They’ve just been pushing me, keeping the pressure on me to do my best.”

Ortiz, seeded third, beat Bradon Short of Redmond 14-5 to win the 126-pound division.

For Yamashita, the motivation comes closer to home — his brother is former all-league wrestler Braeden Yamashita.

“You know how it is with brothers — you always want to measure up to them, do better than they did,” Kenji said. “And he’s been pushing me to do better, and now that’s starting to pay off.”

Kenji Yamashita won his weight-class at the Best of the West Tournament in Pasco last week. His 7-1 victory over Parker Folliard of Oregon City to capture the 138-pound division at the Pac Coast kept his hot streak going.

“My goal is to win a medal at state,” Yamashita said. “That’s what I’m focused on. I’ve got a spot on my wall already set aside for that medal.”

There were six Clark County finalists. Anthony Thomas of Evergreen had a big test against Tyler Chay of West Linn, Ore. Chay was the top seed in the tournament, and Thomas was No. 2.

And that’s how they finished Saturday with Chay earning a 10-2 win over Thomas.