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The Tigers will move on to the Best of the West Tournament in Portland on Jan. 3-4

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Sophomore Charlie Evans is among the young wrestlers leading the way for Newberg this season.

Continuing its early season streak of dominance, the Newberg High School wrestling team beat Sherwood 72-6 on Dec. 18. The Tigers previously beat Forest Grove 78-0 and won the Rose City Championships tournament at Westview High School.

Newberg didn't even have top wrestlers Ayden Garver or Micah Worthington against what was expected to be a formidable Sherwood squad – a testament to the team's depth and talent that has been on display all year.

"The score was certainly lopsided," NHS coach Neil Russo said with a chuckle. "They had some kids missing and so did we, but our kids really competed well. That's what we're looking for this time of year.

"You take two returning state finalists out of your lineup and that can hurt you. When you don't miss a beat like we did against Sherwood, that's pretty encouraging. We talk all the time about having a room full of varsity wrestlers and this was a perfect example of that."GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - NHS wrestling coach Neil Russo expects his team to be right in the mix with other state title contenders this season.

The Tigers – like plenty of other sports teams in town and around Oregon – are dealing with a handful of injuries and illnesses in the early going. The result has been a constantly evolving lineup, but Russo said that is to Newberg's benefit early on.

One performance from the dominant win over Sherwood really stood out to Russo, who said the team brought a balanced effort against a Bowmen squad possessing a few state contenders.

"Harrison Womack at 120 got a fall against his opponent and it really seems like he's settling into that weight a bit," Russo said. "He lost to that same kid at the Rose City Championships, so it was good for him to get this one back. He did a really good job preparing and took advantage of some mistakes by his opponent."GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Junior Connor O'Bryan is the biggest wrestler on the Newberg roster, competing in the 285 pound weight class.

Allowing wrestlers who normally don't participate in varsity matches time to compete will be valuable in the long-term, Russo said. He added that would continue to be the case when the team traveled up to Pasco, Wash., over the weekend for the Best of the West tournament – which occurred after The Graphic went to press Friday.

"We're still going to be a little shorthanded with injuries and illness." Russo said. "The objective up there is to pile some matches up and we don't usually worry about the team score. That typically takes care of itself anyway.

"When you have people out is you get other kids some opportunities that they might not otherwise be getting. We're trying to get 28 guys ready for the varsity competition at the end of the year and we'll continue to do that."

Next up for Newberg after the Best of the West is a short layoff from competition before the Don York tournament at Cleveland High School in Portland. The tournament, set for Jan. 3-4, will feature 23 elite and mid-level wrestling programs from around Oregon.

Newberg's next dual meet is Jan. 9 against Glencoe, followed by its home tournament – the Earl Gillis Invitational – on Jan. 10.


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