Hermiston's Rodriguez, Walla Walla's Ferenz are athletes of the week

January 30, 2013 

Abraham Rodriguez

Senior, Hermiston

The Bulldogs wrestled their way to the top of the pack at the Reser’s Tournament of Champions in Hillsboro, Ore., ending Roseburg’s four-year reign.

Rodriguez was one of three individual champions for Hermiston, beating Douglas’ Elijah Taylor 10-0 in the 160-pound final.

“It was just like any other match,” said Rodriguez, who wrestled in five matches during the two-day tournament. “You walk out there expecting to win. You go out there and wrestle as hard as you can and see what happens.”

The defending 152-pound Oregon state champion believes good things are ahead for himself and his teammates, several of whom were ill during the Reser’s tournament.

“We’ve won everything that’s gotten in our way,” said Rodriguez, who this season has battled back from a separated shoulder and pulled groin. “You don’t let up. You finish the job. We already drew blood. You’ve just gotta move forward and finish what you already started. I think we can do that.”

Q’n’A

Favorite food: Enchiladas

Favorite nonsport activity: Horseback riding

Favorite athlete: Leo Messi

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

Sports highlight/memory: Being part of a great team this year

Favorite class: Science

Premeet ritual: I always like to clear my mind and not try to think about wrestling.

Must-have on the road: Running gear to cut weight

Favorite movie: Inception

Favorite TV show: Family Guy

Last book read (not for school): The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Best song on your iPod: Let the Drummer Kick by Citizen Cope

Career plans: Going to George Mason next year in hopes of earning a business degree. He hopes to start a ranch and run cattle.

Favorite gym: Hermiston

Best advice from current coach: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” — Hermiston coach Shaun Williams

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

Favorite restaurant: Chinese

Dream vacation: Hawaii

Favorite place: South Africa and Russia

Million dollars: Invest it in buying land to start a farm and ranch

Favorite animal: Horse

Why he wrestles: It challenges you in every aspect, not just in matches, but the practices, the weight cutting, the mental, the emotional.

Mikayla Ferenz

Sophomore, Walla Walla

Ferenz, who hit a late 3-pointer Friday night to help the Blue Devils defeat Richland and lock up a top-two seed in the District 5 tournament, is familiar with making big-time baskets.

While facing an Idaho squad in an AAU game, her twin sister, Kate, sank a long-range 3-pointer to send the game into overtime. Pretty soon, it was Mikayla’s turn to be the savior.

“We were down by two, and I hiked up this crazy shot, and it went in,” Ferenz said. “It was really exciting, and we won. It was awesome.”

Ferenz was happy to come through for Wa-Hi on Friday, but she was more proud of her effort the next night, when she scored 14 points in a 62-55 victory over Kamiakin.

“They’re really good, and it really hurt us when we lost to them big on the road,” said Ferenz, who is excited about how her team has improved over recent seasons.

“We have a lot of talent, and all the girls are really close,” she said. “We’ve finally been clicking as a team.”

Q’n’A

Favorite food: S’mores

Favorite athlete: Aaron Craft from Ohio State

Most like to meet (living or dead): Larry Bird

Favorite class: My dad would want me to say math because he’s a math teacher, but I’d have to say science.

Pregame ritual: We always sing to get ourselves pumped.

Must-have on the road: My pillow and blanket because all I do on the bus rides is sleep

Favorite movie: The Avengers

Favorite TV show: Pretty Little Liars

Last book you read (not for school): The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

What she’s been listening to lately: Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift

Career plans: Environmental science

Favorite gym: Whitman College (her mom, Michelle, is the women’s basketball head coach)

Best advice from coach: “Be confident.” — Her dad, Chris, an assistant for the Wa-Hi boys and Whitman women’s teams

With $100 in a mall, where do you go?: Champs or Foot Locker

Favorite restaurant: You can never go wrong with Red Robin.

Dream vacation: Australia. I want to see the Great Barrier Reef.

Favorite place: Oahu

Million dollars: Build a house and put a basketball gym in it.

Favorite animal: Giraffe

What she likes most about basketball: Definitely the competitiveness. I’ve always had great teammates, and it’s really fun.

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