Depth carries Tigers to title
PORTLAND — Although the Newberg wrestling team is always going to enjoy wrestling before a boisterous home crowd like it did during a 68-6 dual meet win over Tigard last week, the Tigers really live for tournaments like the Rose City Championships.
It's at those kinds of big meets with strong fields that coach Neil Russo's teams are really challenged and therefore can learn something about itself.
That was the case again over the weekend, as Newberg showed it will likely be one of the best squads in the state again after storming to the team title with 290 points.
"We put nine kids on the podium, which was more than anybody else," Russo said. "A tournament like that, for us, is a chance for us to get 28 kids varsity experience and we got that. We're excited about it and I'm excited about this group. They're going to be fun to work with."
Four Tigers advanced to the finals of their weight classes, with senior heavyweight Tristan Osborn earning the team's lone individual championship after defeating Willamina's Keegan Cook 11-1 in the championship bout.
Osborn (5-0) was a state qualifier at 220 pounds as a junior, but has bulked up over the past year and looked quite comfortable in the highest weight class.
"I think he grew some, also, which helped, but he's all of 265 pounds and has that length, which is really going to be a huge benefit for him. He did a good job and had to work for a few of those matches. The quarterfinal match, he had to get a takedown with about 10 seconds to go in the match and he did. It was good for him and he responded really well."
Finishing second for Newberg were senior Cody Fettig and juniors Christopher Strange and Oliver Myers.
Fettig (4-1), who returned from injury late last season to win the state title at 106 pounds, was runner-up at 126 pounds Saturday after falling 7-3 to Westview's Nick Capitello in the final.
"That 126-pound weight class for Cody was a real good test," Russo said. "The kid who won it was a state-runner-up two years ago. The kid that Cody wrestled in the semifinals from Camas beat (Gavin) Jolley from Sherwood last week and the kid he wrestled in the quarterfinals from Thurston is very, very good and ended up third. So he got tested three or four times this weekend and he figured out that he can handle that weight class and he's going to be just fine there."
Strange (4-1), who lost to Jolley in last year's 120-pound state final, also had a strong tournament before losing 12-1 to Brandon Kaylor (5-0) of Bonney Lake, Wash., In the final.
"That kid is as good as there is in the country," Russo said. "I think he won both freestyle and Greco at the national tournament last summer. He's the same kid that Cody lost to in the finals there, last year. Chris battled him and was a bit overmatched, at least for right now."
Myers (4-1), who was one win away from making the podium at 160 pounds at state last year, saw his run in the tournament end in a technical fall (22-7) Saturday against 2017 152-pound state champion Sean Harmon of West Linn.
Newberg also got a third-place finish from Wayne Barnett (6-1) at 195 pounds, a fourth-place showing from Zach Irving (5-2) at 132 pounds, fifth-place efforts from Hunter James (4-2) at 220 and Boulder Friesen (5-2) at 106, and a sixth-place performance from Micah Worthington (5-3) at 113.
The Tigers will hit the road Dec. 22-23 for the Best of the West Tournament in Pasco, Wash.
"Our kids competed hard and we won the tournament, so that's always nice," Russo said. "More importantly, we saw a lot of things that we've been working on and wanted to see. We have a laundry list of things to work on, but that's to be expected this time of year."