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Ortiz earns D-11 gold

To say the Northwestern wrestling team had a tough act to follow after last year's district tournament would be an understatement. The Tigers crowned two champs last year, with Mike Ortiz (152) and Levi Veppert (182) both earning gold.

Veppert graduated, but Ortiz returned to capture his second consecutive gold medal, this time at 170-pounds. Ortiz came into the tournament as the top seed and left little doubt that he was the class of the field.

Ortiz moves on to regionals this weekend at Wilson (West Lawn), the site where his season was derailed last year following a torn ACL.

"It's just about getting out to states and that's about winning," Ortiz said. "I want to win (regionals), but getting out to states is the main goal right now."

"His goal is to get to States," said Northwestern head coach Jim Moll. "Then that's where you want to have your best tournament. We're preparing for that."

The Tigers' Jarrett White also advanced to regionals with a fourth-place finish at districts. The sophomore came into the tournament as the eighth seed at 106.

"Jarrett White did a great job," said Moll. "He had a bunch of tough matches to get through, so we're really happy."

White agreed.

"It was a really tough tournament and there were a lot of tough guys at my weight," White said. "It wasn't the easiest weight class, but I did what I could and I did the best that I could."

The experience White gained at districts will only help him.

"It's going to make me a better wrestler," White said. "Doing this helps in the future and makes you a better person."

Mitchell Evans (160) advanced to the semifinals of the district tournament, but fell to eventual champion Connor Hedash of Bethlehem Catholic. He still had a chance to advance to regionals, but lost to Lehighton's Connor Frey in the fourth-place bout.

"We would have liked to have gotten Mitchell through to regionals, that was his goal," Moll said. "He lost three tough ones.

"The third, fourth, fifth and sixth place wrestlers at that weight class all beat each other at some point. It's a very close weight class and those guys had it when they needed it. Sometimes it's a point that separates third from sixth."

Another honor the team earned over the weekend was the Lehigh Valley Chapter of Wrestling Officials Sportsmanship Award, leaving no doubt that Moll is building the program the right way.

"They're young but they got a lot of experience this year," said Moll. "Hopefully we can build on that.

"Overal, I'm very pleased."