Portillo wins title

DES MOINES – There was no stopping Josh Portillo on his road to gold here Saturday night.

Applying the finishing touches to an unbeaten sophomore campaign, Clarion-Goldfield’s second-ranked Portillo downed Alburnett’s No. 3 Zach Fowler by a 6-1 decision in the Class 1A 113-pound state championship at Wells Fargo Arena.

“It feels pretty good,” said Portillo, who wrapped up the season at 28-0 with the victory. “This is the first time I’ve ever wrestled in an atmosphere like this, so I was very nervous. I always dreamed of (a state title), but I never thought it would come true.”

Portillo used two takedowns and a reversal to dispose of Fowler (43-5). In the quarterfinals on Friday, Portillo stunned top-ranked Bryce West of Riverside by a 9-6 count.

“I just knew if I took good shots that I was going to win (last night),” Portillo said. “I didn’t ever let (Fowler) get control of my legs.”

Portillo’s crown was the first for Clarion-Goldfield since Joe Rohrer back in 1985.

“Our kids have to thank the wrestlers from the past five or six years for laying the foundation for their success,” said CGHS head coach Kurt Morgan, who directed the school to its first-ever state duals title on Wednesday. “Those older guys took them under their wing and showed what hard work and commitment are all about.”

Falling short in their finals matches for the No. 3 Cowboys were second-ranked, 106-pound sophomore Justin Portillo (25-3 overall) and No. 5, 126-pound junior Joel Haberman (35-8).

Unable to score an escape in the closing seconds, Justin Portillo – Josh’s twin brother – suffered a hard-fought 6-5 setback to Riverside’s top-ranked and undefeated Drew West (50-0), who is ironically the twin brother of Bryce. Justin actually trailed by four points until rallying with five straight of his own to take a brief lead in the third period. The Portillo brothers are transfers from Toledo Central Catholic High School in Ohio.

“Justin basically took control, but he didn’t quite pull (the match) out,” said Morgan. “Credit to (Bryce West) for hanging on. I know Justin will be back stronger than ever next year.”

Haberman, a three-time state qualifier, lost a 12-4 major decision to No. 1 and last year’s 120-pound state runner-up Brady Ruden (51-1) from Wilton. Haberman’s older brother, Jake, was also a state runner-up at 160 last season.

“Joel wrestled (Ruden) to a close 4-0 match at state duals, and his gameplan (Saturday) was to hit low,” Morgan said. “Once he got into a four-point hole, he just couldn’t ever quite recover. Sometimes, though, the best things come out of losses.”

Clarion-Goldfield placed in the team race with points. No. 1 Alburnett was the winner.

“I think state duals was a huge momentum boost for (individual state),” said Morgan, who was a 103-pound state runner-up for Eagle Grove in 1997. “Putting a gold (state duals) trophy in the showcase gives us something to build on.”

Clarion-Goldfield finished third in the 1A team race with 90 points. No. 2 Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont (111) and top-ranked Alburnett (106) paced the field.