Wrestling team welcomes back several state qualifiers
The Wilsonville wrestling team is one to be reckoned with this year. The Wildcats return several state and district qualifiers and are putting themselves in a position to be successful.
Returning for Wilsonville will be senior and state qualifier Adzel Villanueva in the 106-pound weight class, senior and state finalist Perry Rodenbeck in the 170-pound weight class, and senior and state qualifier Drafis Senter in the 285-pound weight class, among a host of others.
Head coach Jason Milham is excited to have all of his athletes returning, but notes a group of upperclassmen as being essential to the program's vitality.
"We have 11 returning district placers and nine returning state qualifiers, including one state finalist (Rodenbeck) and one sixth placer (senior Andrew Gay)," Milham said. "All the returning qualifiers won matches at the state meet. They are all part of a core group of juniors and seniors that really bought into our philosophy around sports and wrestling. Kids on the team work hard and do a good job of supporting each other. Perry and Andrew are our team captains, but kids like (senior) Jacob Stelle and Adzel Villanueva do a great job of leading as well. The team in general does a good job of being coachable and works hard on the techniques and wrestling style that we teach."
While Milham is expecting good things from his wrestlers at any given meet, he also knows that the opponent can make the match-up and results may vary over the course of the season.
"The Northwest Oregon Conference (NWOC) has solid wrestlers across the teams," Milham said. "I think that we have good depth and solid kids returning, so we expect to compete well within the league. Performance week to week depends a lot on individual match ups with the various teams, but I am confident that the kids we put on the mat will be competitive."
There are some notable opponents on the horizon, however. Hillsboro, Sandy, and Milwaukie all represent difficult foes, but Milham is confident in how team can fare in competing for the top spots in the league.
"On an individual level, each team in the league has solid kids who will compete for district placing and opportunities to go to the state tournament, us included," Milham said. "We also have plenty of potential to compete to be in the top half of the league (as a team), but as (I) mentioned, we will need time and competitions to prepare our guys to be ready. If things come together the way we anticipate, I feel good about what my guys can do. Like any sports season though, there are always intangibles that come into play, so time will tell."
Matchups and opponents aside, there is still one thing Wilsonville's wrestling squad can control, and that's the effort they put out on the mat, and the discipline they show off of it. Those intangibles will make the difference this season, according to Milham.
"My coaches and I work hard to build solid skills and good foundation of conditioning," Milham said. "Kids have to learn to use those things together to be able to compete in matches. We spend a lot of time each week not only to build the foundations listed above, but to teach the athletes how to manage a match and a competition in general. This includes things like rest and nutrition as well as mental preparation."
"We have a good culture and our guys have bought in. I think the potential is there for a very solid season, but it will take time and work and preparation for us to be ready for the district and state meets," Milham added.
The Wildcats have their next meet on Thursday, Dec. 7 at Parkrose High School in a dual meet with the Broncos. The meet will start at 7 p.m.