Estacada wrestlers take aim at Regional title
Estacada's wrestling team came in behind only eventual state champion Tillamook at last year's Regional tournament, and head coach Brandon Lohmeier expects to see his Rangers back in the team chase again this year.
While the team has forfeited the lightest two weights through early-season action, the rest of the lineup is balanced giving the Rangers plenty of scoring opportunities.
Leading the charge is middleweight Sam Garrison, who picked up a pair of wins at last year's 4A tournament, only a pair of overtime losses keeping him off the podium. Garrison finished the season with a 29-11 record — the most wins among any of Estacada's returning wrestlers.
"He has beaten some of the top-ranked wrestlers already this season," Lohmeier said. "He knows this is his last season to go after a state title, and he has really stepped up."
The top of the weight ladder is anchored by Nico Winsor at 220 pounds. He also picked up a pair of wins at last year's state tournament and ended the season with an 18-9 mark.
"He's come to all of the open rooms we've had and he worked Crossfit during the offseason. He's doing everything he can to achieve his goal of winning state," Lohmeier said.
Sophomore Devin Gotchall fills the heavyweight spot, already claiming a tournament title at the Ranger Classic early this season.
"He's tiny for a heavyweight, he could be wrestling at 220, but he's a super strong kid, who stays in good position on the mat," Lohmeier said.
The lightweights are are anchored by returning state qualifiers Landin Vittetoe and Caleb McDonald, while Cody Hovda gives the Rangers another scoring threat in the middleweight section of the ladder.
"Cody is the smartest wrestler I've coached," Lohmeier said. "He thinks about everything, and is constantly moving and working a new approach. He wears opponents out."
Estacada sent eight wrestlers to state last year and scored 53 points at the tournament.
The Rangers are coming off an eight-place team showing at last weekend's Muillenberg Invitational, getting third-place finishes from Hovda and Gotchall.
"The kids are winning the majority of their matches, and there isn't a person in our lineup who is not capable of grabbing a spot to state," Lohmeier said. "I think we'll send more kids this year and I expect us to be really competitive at Regionals."
Lohmeier credits that impressive team depth to a solid middle school program coached by Rex Stratton.
"We are able to move fast with kids when they hit high school because they already know what's going on and they are already into our routine," Lohmeier said.
Dec. 4 vs. North Marion W 60-12
Dec. 4 vs. Cascade W 42-36
Dec. 6 vs. Corvallis W 48-27
Dec. 6 vs. Tualatin L 42-39
Dec. 7 Ranger Classic (2nd)
Dec. 11 vs. Banks W 45-27
Dec. 14 @ Muillenberg (8th)
Dec. 20 @ Meyer-Jensen
Dec. 21 @ Molalla Mayhem
Jan. 10 @ Pacific Rim
Jan. 17 @ Oregon Classic
Jan. 29 League meet at Woodburn
Feb. 5 @ Astoria Invite
Feb. 12 League meet at Estacada
This season preview is slated for our Dec. 19, print edition.
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