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Mavericks bring back the majority of their starting lineup including district champs

TIMES FILE PHOTO - Mountainside star wrestler Aidan Lybarger and the Mavericks are on the rise in the Metro League.

In a Metro League where Aloha and Westview are entrenched at the top, there is still room for one or more contenders to fight their way into elite status.

Mountainside has the body count, the facilities, the athletes and the coaching staff. Sprinkle in two years of varsity seasoning with basically the entire starting lineup returning from last season and the Mavericks just might be the program that makes its way into the district's upper tier.

The Mavericks' foundation is rooted in incumbent state qualifiers. Aidan Lybarger, Sam Alex Wesselman, Sam Balderston, Nick Calhoun, Evan Dooley, Ramtin Yazdani, Marlon Barrios and Jontae Allen are all back after making it to Memorial Coliseum for the Class 6A state tournament. Mountainside has its inaugural senior class suited up and a good returning group of wrestlers to work with.

"We expect them to continue to improve and have great seasons," Mountainside head coach Brett Phillips said. "I feel that we have a very competitive league this year and we hope to compete for a league title. We need to continue to work hard, do the little things right and compete at a high level for our team to be successful. I believe that we should compete well with all the teams in the Metro this year."

Barrios, Yazdani and Lybarger are Mountainside's team leaders, grapplers who embody the qualities Phillips seeks for his program as a whole.

"All three are quality individuals who do all the little things right and represent Mountainside wrestling the right way, whether it be in the classroom, community and in the wrestling room," Phillips said.

Phillips said Mountainside sports "a large group" this season and believe that depth at each weight class will help out the Mavericks both at dual meets, but particularly in tournaments where numbers are key. Lybarger and Dooley are defending district champions who helped Mountainside take third overall at the Metro League district tournament last year. Calhoun was a district runner up. Allen, Barrios and Calhoun are coming off monster seasons on the football field after helping Mountainside topple top-ranked Tigard in the second round of the 6A playoffs. That trio was an indispensable bunch, defensive beasts who brought about physicality, brute strength, quickness and surefire tackling to the gridiron. Confidence, while intangible, has a way of carrying and conveying to other athletic seasons. There is little doubt the surefootedness those three acquired in the school's football success can translate to the mat. At 170 pounds, Calhoun opens the back end of the lineup for his teammates. Allen is off to a rollicking start as a senior, pinning opponents left and right at 195 pounds. Barrios is backing his defensive mates at 220 pounds. These three stars should help Mountainside close many a dual match with a win.

Mountainside hosts Westview on Jan. 9 and Aloha on Jan. 23. The Metro district finals are February 15 at Westview High School and the 6A state meet follows two weeks later.

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