West Linn wrestlers win four titles at district tournament
The West Linn wrestling team did all that it could do.
But this year, that wasn't nearly enough.
While the Lions crowned four district champions, added one runner-up and qualified eight wrestlers to state from last week's Three Rivers League district tournament — held Friday and Saturday at Tualatin High School — it just wasn't enough.
That's because Newberg, which went unbeaten in the TRL dual season, finished the tournament with eight district champions and another five runners-up to leave the rest of the league far behind, amassing 463.5 points to easily outdistance second-place West Linn's 228.5. Those two teams were followed in the points standings by: Sherwood 221.5; Tualatin 188.5; Canby 173.5; Tigard 171.0; Lakeridge 93.5; and Lake Oswego 59.
While disappointed with their result in the team race, the Lions were proud of their efforts and acknowledged the Tigers' team strength.
"We are a good team. We had a good season, but Newberg, just bringing so many kids, it's just hard to beat them in a team race like this," said West Linn senior Brett Bell, who won the district title at 182 pounds.
That said, West Linn was nothing short of impressive during the tournament finals on Saturday night. While junior Kaden Goff came up short in the Lions' first title shot of the night — he was pinned 53 seconds into his match against Newberg's Christopher Strange at 113 — West Linn wouldn't lose another.
Second-ranked West Linn freshman Cael Brunson got things started with the biggest win of the night, upsetting top-ranked Lakeridge junior Quinn Brink — the reigning state champion at 126 — with a 16-6 major decision victory at 138.
"I'm so happy," he said. "I thought I was going to be dying at the end, but I was really proud of myself and how I wrestled."
Brunson scored two takedowns to lead 4-1 after the first round, added a takedown and three-point near fall in the last minute of round two to lead 11-5, then tacked on an escape, a takedown and a three-point near fall to pull away in the third.
"All the steps I took to get to this match and during the match especially, what moves I hit and when I'd be physical with him, I felt like it was the top I've been," Brunson said.
In his earlier matches, Brunson pinned Sims Vincent of Lakeridge in 42 seconds, pinned Jacob Beelar of Tualatin in the third round, then posted a 17-1 technical fall victory over Newberg's Ryan Frey to earn his spot in the championship.
Next up, top-seeded West Linn junior Sean Harman — the reigning state champion at 152 — capped his unbeaten run through the 160-pound bracket with a 22-10 major decision victory over Newberg's second-seeded Oliver Myers.
"I feel pretty good. I had a little bit of (sickness) earlier this week, but I'm all clear and ready to rock," Harman said, adding that he was looking forward to his next shot at state. "I was thinking about that while I was warming up, I was thinking about the atmosphere at the state tournament and how excited I was for it."
Harman showed it on Saturday, scoring three takedowns in the first period against Myers, four more in the second and another four in the third to pull away. In his earlier matches, Harman pinned Sherwood's Tygh Miller in the second round, pinned Braden Baxter of Newberg in the quarterfinals, and pinned Logan Doman of Canby early in the third round of his semi and secure his championship berth.
"I think I've done everything I can to be ready," Harman said. "I've been lifting. I've been running. I've been wrestling hard. I've been finding the best partners I can, seeking out the best competition. I'm pretty happy with where I'm at. I'm excited for the state tournament and everything beyond."
Top-seeded West Linn senior Taran Floyd made it two straight wins for the Lions when he powered past Newberg's Kadyn Lauer 13-4 in the championship of the 170-pound bracket. After his successful 2017 state tournament — he finished second at 160 — Floyd is ready for his next shot at the state's biggest prize.
"It was great winning the district championship, but what I'm really looking forward to is winning the state championship in a couple weeks," he said. "I've been working for it since I was in third grade and I can't wait to finally get after it. The guy I lost to last year (Roseburg four-time state champion Layne Van Anrooy) was an animal, but this year it's my turn to go out there and do to other people what he did to me."
Floyd opened his district tournament with a bye, pinned Newberg's Dalton Paskett in 49 seconds in the quarterfinals, won a 6-2 decision over Tualatin's Justin DiCola in his semi, then rolled past Lauer in the finale.
There, Floyd notched two takedowns in each of the match's three rounds and only allowed Lauer to score on escapes.
"I didn't like how my semis match looked. I didn't really wrestle too well so I knew I'd have to get more prepared for my finals match and go out there and wrestle real solid and have a better match," he said.
Bell, the top-seeded wrestler at 182, then gave the Lions their third straight championship win when he beat second-seeded Jacob Beck of Tigard — the defending TRL champion — 12-6 in the final.
"I knew what the outcome was going to be," Bell said. "I had all the confidence in the world. I trust my training. I knew I worked harder than him in the offseason. There's not a lot of people who work harder than me and our room works really, really hard and we all want the same goal so we all work the same and I'm just very confident in my training."
Bell opened the tournament with a bye, pinned Jordan Beaudry of Newberg in the third round of his quarterfinal, pinned Canby's Michael Clark in the second round of their semifinal, then disposed of Beck in the final.
With his district success secure, Bell turned his sights to the upcoming Class 6A state tournament.
"I want to win a state championship. That's on my mindset to do," he said. "This was a stepping stone in the right direction and that's my ultimate goal."
Also headed to state for the Lions are: Goff at 113; senior Steven Shelofsky, fourth at 170; senior John Wall, fourth at 182; and senior Tyler Good, third at 195. Additional Lion place winners were: freshman Ricky Bell, sixth at 106; freshman Cole Peters, sixth at 152; and senior Andrew Roethke, sixth at 160.
Next up, the Lions will wrestle in the Class 6A state tournament opens at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 16 and continues at 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Feb. 17 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum