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Mom of fallen Oregon City hero continues to honor his legacy at state wrestling meet

KPTV Portland logo KPTV Portland 3/1/2020
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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – It’s championship time for the high school winter sports season. At Memorial Coliseum, there were some historic winners and honorees on the mats Saturday.

This is why they do it – all of those hours grinding in a sweat box to make it here: the statewide parade of champions in the big city, with special honors for a hero who hailed from Oregon City.

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“He probably would have been embarrassed. Absolutely embarrassed. It would be one of those, ‘Oh, Mom. Did you have to?’” said Cheryl Croft Bennett.

Only a mother’s love.

“We want to maintain his legacy and we want to be able to provide the financial assistance that these great kids need in order to keep them on the mat,” she said.

Bennett’s son, Tyrone Snowden Woods, was a class of 1989 wrestler at Oregon City High School.

“He was very, very dedicated, devoted, disciplined. It provoked that ‘never give up’ attitude that he took with him to Benghazi,” Bennett said.

Woods made the ultimate sacrifice, killed in Libya as a member of the Navy SEALs in September of 2012.

“I can’t sing the praises of wrestling enough,” Bennett said.

Woods would love to meet these kids – the fifth year of the Woods Memorial Trophy and $2,500 scholarship was awarded to Nyssa High senior Elijah Cleaver.

“It’s what’s behind it. That meaning of that hard work and that sacrifice that it takes to do what is necessary and what is the right thing. It’s just awesome to have wrestling be that part of doing that right thing and doing that sacrifice,” Cleaver said.

This is the second year of a female Woods award recipient as well in year two of the OSAA sanctioning a girls’ division. That went to La Pine’s Olivia Flack.

“My heart sings. My heart just sings,” Bennett said.

Emma Baertlein, a junior at Woods’ alma mater makes OCHS history, defeating flack in the 100-pound weight class to become the first girls state champion from Oregon City. Raw emotion, high drama – a true pioneer.

“It feels so great,” Baertlein said. “It doesn’t even feel real. I came into this feeling real confident and I knew it was for a reason. I am just so happy.”

Congratulations to all of the champions and placers on the mat.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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