Athletes of the Week

December 19, 2012 

Boys: Tyler Berger, Jr., Hermiston

Berger always is up for a challenge on the wrestling mat. Two weekends ago, he went to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, for the prestigious Walsh Ironman, where he went 7-1 and took third at 138 pounds.

Last weekend, he won his third Tri-State championship at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, where he recorded five pins and a 16-0 technical fall in helping the Bulldogs win the team title. He also was named the meet’s outstanding wrestler.

“These tournaments, it’s great to win and to dominate, but I’m always looking to get better for the next big thing,” Berger said.

The two-time Oregon state champion’s ultimate goal is to win a gold medal in the 2020 Olympics.

He has the perfect mentor in first-year Hermiston wrestling coach Shaun Williams, who competed for South Africa in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

“I always try to pick his brain and see what else I can learn,” Berger said. “He’s been at the top, and he knows what it’s like to get there.”

Not only does Berger excel in wrestling, but he has a 4.0 grade-point average.

“If you want to be the best, you’ve got to be the best everywhere in your life,” Berger said. “If I’m gonna have the discipline I have in wrestling, I’ve got to have that in every aspect in my life.”


Favorite food: There’s nothing better than pizza and root beer.

Favorite nonsport activity: Going to church on the Sunday after a tournament

Favorite athlete: John Smith, a six-time world champion wrestler, or Muhammad Ali. I have an Ali quote over my bed. His confidence has really hit me, and I love it.

Most like to meet (living or dead): Ali

Any unusual talents?: Ping-pong

Sports highlight/memory: Last year at the state tournament, winning my second state title. My dad, Rob, was in my corner after the match. I got to give him a hug.

Favorite class: Science

Prematch ritual: I pray and ask God to keep me safe and keep my opponent safe.
Must-have on the road: PS3. We always get a couple games of Madden or Black Ops in at the hotel.

Favorite movie: Remember the Titans

Favorite TV show: The Ultimate Fighter. My dad and I always watch that together.

Last book read (not for school): American Victory by Henry Cejudo

Best song on your iPod: Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman

Career plans: College wrestling coach

Favorite place to wrestle: I love the Tri-State environment. It’s crowded, and it’s an older gym. I love the feeling when everyone goes to the final and the spotlight’s on.

Best advice: “You gotta believe before you can do.” — From a wrestling video

With $100 in a mall, where do you go?: Champs Sports

Favorite restaurant: Golden Corral

Dream vacation: The Iowa Hawkeyes’ wrestling gym. They have their own place just for wrestling. It’s always packed.

Favorite place: Cape Town, South Africa. I went there this last summer for wrestling.

Million dollars: Give 10 percent back to my church. That’s always first. Then I would build a good house and give back to charity.

Favorite animal: Wolverine

Who or what inspires you to wrestle?: When you’re gonna be an athlete the way I am, you’ve got to do it for yourself, but I do it for my family and for God for everything he’s given me.

Girls: Panisesi Taimani, Sr., Kennewick

Taimani is determined to finish her high school basketball career on a winning note.

Even if the end result of each game this season hasn’t always been a victory for the Lions, Taimani has been a key player for Kennewick in every contest.

Last week against Eisenhower, she scored a game-high 22 points in a 70-34 win. The Lions lost the next two games, but Taimani had 20 points and 13 rebounds against Hanford and 18 points against Walla Walla.

Taimani said she has noticed a positive change since the start of the season under new Kennewick coach Oliver Browning.

“It’s definitely working out,” she said. “We’re growing each game, each practice. Ever since our first game, now it’s way different. It’s just more flow in the game and more confidence in shooting.”


Favorite food: Orange chicken

Favorite nonsport activity: Listening to music

Favorite athlete: Blake Griffin

Most like to meet (living or dead): My grandma

Any famous relatives?: My uncle, gospel singer Vaka Taimani

Sports highlight/memory: Getting 126 in discus

Favorite class: Food and fitness

Pregame ritual: Listening to reggae

Must-have on the road: Candy (Kit Kats)

Favorite movie: She’s the Man

Favorite TV show: The Food Network — I like baking better than cooking.

Best song on your iPod: Weak by SWV

Career plans: Physical therapist or athletic trainer

Best advice from coach: To not be scared and just be strong, be big. I should be able to go through all the girls who push me out. — All my coaches

With $100 in a mall, where do you go?: Champs Sports

Favorite restaurant: Chinese Buffet

Dream vacation: Rome

Favorite place: Las Vegas

Million dollars: Give it to my parents and my family and take care of them.

Who or what inspires you to play basketball: My parents

Favorite animal: Monkey

Christmas break: My Christmas break is full of basketball, so that’s my plan. (The Lions have games this Friday and Saturday, as well as on the 29th.) We have practice every day except for Sunday and the 24th and 25th.

Christmas movie: A Christmas Story

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