The West Linn wrestling team was right there.
The Lions, a year after winning the Three Rivers League district title, was in the running all the way to the end of the 2021 TRL district tournament, pushing Tualatin to the end before finally falling short and finishing second.
The Timberwolves won the tournament — held Saturday, June 19, at Tualatin High School — with 282.5 points, while West Linn placed second with 253.5. The Lions were followed in the team standings by Canby at 251.0, Tigard at 170.5, Oregon City at 121.0, Lake Oswego at 59.0 and Lakeridge at 47.0.
"I thought (having 15 wrestlers) entered and 12 qualifying (for state and) a second-place finish was an excellent day," said West Linn coach Doug Samarron, "especially with mostly sophomores and freshman."
The Lions — who wrestled without five returning district champions (some left for college after graduation and some chose not to come out when the season didn't initially include district or state tournaments) — built their success on the strength of three district champions, four runners up and another three third-place finishers. Their TRL champions included junior Ethan Goff at 132 pounds, sophomore Justin Rademacher at 170 and junior Cobie Daly at 285.
Goff opened with a bye, then pinned Oregon City's Fernando Gonzalez Ramirez in the quarterfinals, pinned Tualatin's Jesse Gutierrez in the semis, then knocked off teammate Charles Spinning with a pin near the end of the second round in the championship.
Rademacher needed just two wins to claim his second straight TRL crown, following up an opening-round bye to pin Tualatin's Ethan Horner in just 22 seconds in his semifinal, then needing just 20 seconds to pin Tualatin's Blake Messick in the championship.
"It was great. There just weren't a lot of kids out this year, but I respect everyone that came out," Rademacher said. "Because a lot of people didn't (come out). Most people just didn't have faith."
Rademacher said that his consistent preparation and work in practice have made all the difference for him this year.
"I'm in the best shape of my life right now. (Assistant coach) Chael Sonnen, he's been putting me on the firing line, wrestling everyone in the room for a takedown every day, sometimes twice. He's getting me ready."
Daly did his part at 285, winning his first TRL title after finishing third at 220 a year ago. Daly opened with a quarterfinal pin of Tigard's Raul Velasquez, pinned Canby's Matthew Hagen in one minute in his semi, then notched a third-round pin of Oregon City's Harley Richter in the championship.
"It's pretty great," Daly said. "I beat (Richter) last Tuesday in the first round, but he definitely knew what I was doing so this time so he had new ways to defend stuff better."
Even more impressive, Daly has notched wins against most of the state's other top heavyweights despite weighing in at just 230 himself.
"This year has been pretty great for me because this is my first year as a 285 and I'm only 230 so I'm like 55 pounds less than the guys who are on top of the weight class which Harley was."
Other top-three place winners for West Linn were: Spinning, second at 132; Ben Winjum, second at 182; Earl Ingle, second at 195; Liam Armstrong, second at 220; Henry Dillingham, third at 120; Donathan Lewis, third at 170; Eric Murtaugh, third at 182; and Eric Mee, third at 285.
Oregon City results
The Pioneers crowned one TRL champion at district — 106-pounder Oscar Cuellar — saw Richter take second, Wyatt Stahl finish third and two wrestlers place fourth and fifth at Tualatin.
Cuellar started his tournament with a pair of byes, then muscled past Dylan Keyser of Lake Oswego with a second-round pin in the championship.
Richter, meanwhile, posted two first-round pins — over Tualatin's Charlie Freadman and West Linn's Mee — before falling to Daly in the title match. Stahl came back from a first-round loss to win three straight matches and finish third at 126.
Lake Oswego results
The Lakers' day was highlighted by the efforts of runners-up Keyser and Calvin Fillmore, and a strong finish by Riis Hinrichs.
Keyser advanced with a pair of byes at 106 before coming up short against Cuellar in the final. Fillmore, wrestling at 145, started with a bye, pinned Madi Randels of Tualatin in his quarterfinal and posted a 5-2 decision over Tigard's Jeremy Chun Sajaui in his semi before finally being stopped in the title match. There, Fillmore was pinned by Tigard's Timothy Cousineau with just five seconds left in the second round.
LO's other top-three finisher was Hinrichs at 132; after a bye and a quarterfinal loss, he won four straight times to place third.
While the Pacers finished just seventh in the seven-team field, they did crown a district champion in senior 182-pounder Ryan Boucher. Boucher, a TRL runner-up a year ago, stepped up to win three straight matches, including a 9-1 major decision over West Linn's Ben Winjum in the final.
"I would say I was OK," Boucher said. "I had a few off points, but overall, it was pretty good."
Boucher opened with a pin of Tualatin's Dillon DiCola in the quarterfinals, pinned West Linn's Eric Murtagh 33 seconds into the second round of their semi, then beat Winjum 9-1 in the championship.
After almost not wrestling this season, Boucher said he was glad he changed his mind.
"I was pretty worried (about not having a season)," he said. "To be honest, at first, I was like 'I don't really miss it that much,' but once the season started, I was like 'Oh yeah.'"
The Pacers' other top-three finisher was Spencer Lenius. Lenius, wrestling at 195, lost his quarterfinal opener, then took a bye and two more wins, eventually pinning Lake Oswego's Liam Dolan to finish third.
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