A top-10 showing, at least, is goal in Scappoose's Class 5A championships debut

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Brett Krieger of Scappoose High is among the Indians' nine entries in the Oregon School Activities Association Class 5A championship meet.Regardless of classification, the Scappoose wrestling team wants to be in the state tournament trophy chase.

That means sending multiple grapplers as far as possible through their respective brackets and placing in the top four as a team Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

To do so in the Indians' first year up from Class 4A to 5A will require huge showings from stars such as AJ DeGrande and Cutter Sandstrom, district champions with favorable state meet seeds.

"We always shoot to be a perennial top-10 team in the state and push for a team trophy," Scappoose coach Nick Byrd said. "I'm not sure if we're in a position to trophy this year, but if we wrestle well we could finish in the top 10. You never know going in. One or two matches can really turn your state tournament around for you."

The tourney begins on Friday with the first round through the quarterfinals. The 5A semis start at 9:45 a.m. Saturday. The championship matches kick off at 7 p.m.

Scappoose qualified nine wrestlers for state.

"This is what our kids have been waiting for all year, and they're excited to be in," Byrd said. "It's what everybody at state has been working for all season. You want to be levelheaded and treat every match like any other match you've had throughout the year. You want to wrestle the same way no matter what. That's easier said than done. Kids are excited. Some thrive in that atmosphere, while others work themselves up too much. As an athlete, you have to find that balance of being excited but not too overhyped."

Sandstrom is the third seed, the highest of any Indian, in the 285-pound bracket. DeGrande is the fourth seed at 113 pounds.

DeGrande won the Northwest Oregon Conference title by beating a couple of wrestlers he'd lost to earlier this season. He'll have to do the same in one of the toughest 5A brackets.

"He's going to have to show up and compete, and I think he has a shot to take those guys out that beat him before," Byrd said. "I'm excited to see how he competes."

It'll be Sandstrom's first time at state, but the Indians are familiar with the environment. Every year, Byrd and his staff bring a number of younger Scappoose wrestlers, either in high school or middle school, with them to the tournament to get a small taste of the sights and sounds. Those Indians practice with the state qualifiers and sit in the coliseum stands just to experience the competitive vibe.

"When they get to state, it's nothing new to them," Byrd said. "Hopefully it's not a shock to them when they get there."

Junior Colton Frates (132) is the eighth seed in his bracket, while 152-pound junior Trevor Jackson is the seventh seed and 195-pound sophomore Brett Krieger is the sixth seed. Junior Ashton Kauffman (128), Riyle Kauffman (182), Jerico Archer (285) and 220-pound Quincy Cleveland are unseeded.

Byrd said he believes each of his qualifiers has the potential to win matches.

"We have quite a few kids who I think have a chance to place," Byrd said. "We're going to have a lot of close matches early in the tournament that are going to make or break our chances if we hope to be on top of the podium."

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