Newberg wrestling off to a hot start
With a 78-0 dual meet win over Forest Grove and a team victory in the Rose City Championship tournament, the Newberg wrestling team is back to its usual ways on the mat this winter.
The hot start was a relief for longtime coach Neil Russo because the team was itching to get going.
"It was nice to actually get started, honestly," Russo said. "We've been in the (practice) room officially since the middle of November and we could have started officially competing a week ago. We always push it back a week just to get kids more time in the room and we're always anxious to get out of there."
The Forest Grove match was Newberg's first of the season and "didn't do much for either program," Russo said. What was beneficial for Newberg was a handful of losses and tough bouts in the Rose City Championship tournament held at Westview High School in Portland.
Russo said the Tigers experienced a small dose of adversity in the competitive tournament, which brought in top teams and wrestlers from around the state. They still won it as a team, though.
"Every one of our kids got beat at least once, except for Hunter James," Russo said. "You never want to get beat, but there's a lot to learn from it and we won the tournament anyway team score-wise."
Haynes took home the individual crown at 195 pounds, while Sophia Redwine won the girls' tournament in her weight class a day after competing against the boys. Juniors Charlie Evans and Ayden Garver both finished second in their respective weight classes, while sophomore Nicky Olmstead placed third at 126 pounds.
Olmstead is among those currently wrestling at a different weight class than where Newberg wants them to end up, Russo said. This is normal early in the season and Russo anticipates the team will find perfect spots for everyone once they cut or add weight where necessary.
Next up on the docket for Newberg is a dual meet against Sherwood on Wednesday night at Newberg High School. The meet will likely be the most competitive for the Tigers in the Pacific Conference this season.
"They're pretty solid," Russo said of the Bowmen. "They bring back some guys from last year who should be tough matchups for us, but we're up for the challenge. They're typically the toughest dual meet we have in league because they have four or five returning state qualifiers and place winners."
After Sherwood, the Tigers will head to Pasco, Wash., for the annual Best of the West tournament. Top teams from all over the Northwest are consistently in attendance and the bouts – which occur on Friday and Saturday – are often Newberg's most competitive other than those wrestled at the OSAA championships.
For more information on Newberg's full schedule this season, visit www.OSAA.org.
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