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Seniors guide the young Mavericks to first district championship in school history

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - The Mountainside wrestling team won the Metro League district championship tournament last weekend.

Mountainside is the Metro League district doormat no more.

Buoyed by their first star-stacked senior class in school history, a deep infinity pool of competitors and perhaps the largest coaching staff in the state, the Mavericks won the Metro League district tournament with 374 points, beating out conference flagships Aloha (338) and Westview (321) at Westview High School on Feb. 15. Jontae Allen (195) and Marlon Barrios (220) took home district crowns. Aidan Lybarger (120) was the runner up in his respective weight class as was Alexander Wesselman (126), Arian Tajgerdu (138), Nicholas Calhoun (152), Evan Dooley (170) and Ramtin Yazdani (182). That is eight district finalists and two champions on top of 14 others who placed sixth or higher. This is a program supposedly still in its babyhood, the rookie that took its licks early on. Now they're running the Beaverton area.

To say this feat was a long time coming would be untrue. Mountainside just started competing at the varsity level three years ago. Sooner than later, perhaps, the Mavericks would morph into a Metro monster. They had all the amenities, the bells and whistles, the new school vibe. Eventually, Mountainside was going to mash. Yet, to accelerate that proverbial learning curve, expedite the progression process and win not only the district tournament but split the regular season title with Aloha and Westview as well this early is rare and impressive.

"It's like watching a puzzle come together," Allen said. "We've been working at this for three years. Almost everybody here that isn't a freshman has been putting their heart and soul into this program."

These titles weren't magic. Far from it. Allen said after every practice there were handfuls of Mavericks staying late, lifting weights, working on moves, grinding, striving for more. Rarely does a Mountainside grappler not make weight when it comes time for weigh-ins. These athletes hold each other accountable both dietarily and competitively. The coaching staff runs eight deep, unofficially. They have one or two instructors for each weight class which allows for more hands-on instruction in the practice room. The culture head coach Brett Phillips cultivated is founded on opposition and currency, the best of the best facing off against each other every day and going at it, earning everything.

"I spend all week getting my ass beat by teammates, so they prepared me well," Allen said with a laugh.

Allen, Calhoun, Barrios and Yazdani all went to the JROB Intensive Wrestling Camp last July for 10 days and came back stronger, tougher, more mentally fit. It's no surprise all four were on top of the district dais, or close to it.

"Pain is temporary, but these victories are forever," Allen said. "The victory you gain from the pain is all worth it."

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Mountainside senior Jontae Allen won his first Metro League district championship at 195 pounds.

Being a new school three years ago, Mountainside pulled from four different Beaverton communities to make up its student body. While some friend groups migrated over together, mostly everybody came over alone, not knowing everyone on the roster. Like college freshmen moving into their dorm room, circumstantially the move almost forced the Mavericks to become friends and comrades. Off the mat, the Mavericks are tight. Team dinners are a weekly ritual. Hyper competitive dodgeball games that break out during practice are normal occurrences. If the seniors are going out for food or just to hang out on the town, they'll bring along the underclassmen with them. If the freshmen don't have a ride to practice or a meet, the Maverick seniors such as Allen and Calhoun will pick them up to ensure they don't get stranded at home.

"There are no black sheep," Allen said. "There are people that stand out, but nobody is excluded. We let everybody in. We're a big family. Building that from the ground up, we wanted to do something different and we did. We put a lot of ourselves into the program. You spread the word, let everybody know it's hard work, but that it pays off. Once people start wrestling and they start to like it, you can't get them away from it."

Mountainside and the rest of the Metro's state qualifiers will compete at the Class 6A state championship meet on Feb. 28 and 29 at Veterans' Memorial Coliseum. For more on Aloha, Westview, Sunset, Southridge and Beaverton's feats at the Metro district tourney, please visit www.beavertonvalleytimes.com.


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