Newberg comes up just shy at Oregon Classic
REDMOND — The Newberg wrestling team continued its march toward to the 6A state tournament, where it is hoping to chase down perennial champion Roseburg for the first time since 2009.
Roseburg has won nine of the 11 6A team championships since the OSAA went to six classifications (with the Tigers winning in 2009 and David Douglas in 2014) and the Tigers got their first crack at the champs this season Saturday in the finals of the Oregon Classic.
Newberg wasn't able to overtake Roseburg, but showed that the gap may not be that large in a 36-28 loss.
"I was really impressed with our enthusiasm and our energy this week," NHS coach Neil Russo said. "I know the kids were disappointed. We made a run at Roseburg and certainly served notice. I'm really proud of our kids."
Like most teams at this time of the year, Newberg was not at full strength due to injury and illness, but rolled through its five group-stage matches with ease, which allowed Russo to keep heavyweight Tristan Osborn, who was ill, off the mat all day Friday.
The Tigers began their run to the finals with a 54-18 victory over North Medford in the quarterfinals, then avenged their loss to Sprague at last year's classic by edging the Olympians 35-26.
Newberg got wins from Christopher Strange at 113, Cody Fettig at 120, Jack Evans at 138 and Rowan Gallardo at 160 to make it 20-17 Sprague after 10 matches. Oliver Myers delivered a huge win at 170 by pinning Hunter Botek in 5:35 and Russo opted to forfeit at 195, where the Olympians feature state champion Cantos Santu.
Hunter James made that move pay off by pinning Jacob Luna at 220, making it a wash, and Osborn closed out the match with a fall in 4:31 against Austin Schreefer.
"It was a pretty gratifying win," Russo said.
It was a different dynamic against Roseburg in the final, as Russo had to put two of his strongest wrestlers — returning state runner-up Christopher Strange and returning state champion Cody Fettig — back up to 120 and 126 pounds, respectively.
Newberg got a fall from Micah Worthington at 106 and a major decision from Boulder Friessen at 113, but Roseburg got a 7-1 win from 2015 state champion Hunter Sparks over Strange at 120.
Fettig, who came back from injury to win the 106-pound state crown last year, was leading in his match at 126 pounds, but got caught in a compromising position and Thomas Spence was able to secure a pin and swing a lot of points and the momentum to Roseburg's side.
Roseburg added two more pins and a decision to go up 24-10 before Taylen Reid stopped the streak with a 1-0 decision over Austin David at 152 pounds. After Rowan Gallardo fell 7-3 at 160, Myers earned a 3-0 decision over Logan Folsom at 170 and Kadyn Lauer opened the door for a comeback by pinning Doran Gillespie at 182 to make it 27-20.
Roseburg, however, got a 3-0 win from Brandon Jeffers over James at 195 and a fall from Terrell Jacks at 220 to put the match away, although Osborn did pin Mason Labahn in 1:10 to close the match on a high note.
"I tell them all the time that all we can do is be better when we walk out of the building than when we walked in," Russo said. "Just like everything else we've done this year, I really felt that way when we walked out of that building Saturday night."
Newberg will wrestle at Tualatin Thursday before facing another difficult test Friday and Saturday at the Reser's Tournament of Champions, the state's premier individual tournament.