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Indians bring back eight state qualifiers, plenty of promise to the mat room this year

FILE PHOTO - Scappoose standout wrestler AJ DeGrande and the Indians are off to a strong start this season. A year after getting its feet wet at the Class 5A level, it's full steam ahead for the Scappoose wrestling team.

The Indians are stocked with state tournament caliber grapplers, guys you could see winning Northwest Oregon Conference tournament championship and competing on the second day of the 5A state tourney. Scappoose returns eight state qualifiers and boasts one of the biggest groups of underclassmen in the classification. Every year, the Indians' main goal is to win a trophy at the state tournament as a team. It's been a while since that ambition came to fruition. But with so much returning talent and so much promise in the underclassmen ranks, Scappoose fully believes it can contend for a top-five showing at state.

"The group we have right now has done a great job of reestablishing our team culture and making our team atmosphere a positive one," Scappoose head coach Nick Byrd said. "The younger kids we have in the program have really bought into that. They've been great teammates. They've been hard workers. We've had some of the best practices because of our kids' passion for the sport and their teammates."

FILE PHOTO - Scappoose star wrestler Colton Frates and the Indians will be big contenders in the Northwest Oregon Conference. AJ DeGrande (126 pounds), Colton Frates (138), Riyle Kauffman (182) and Cutter Sandstrom (285) are returning state placers with multiple years of varsity experience. Scappoose can succeed as a dual meet team and a tournament squad because of its depth and returning talent. Already, Scappoose is sending a message to the rest of the state. At the Ron James Round Robin in Hillsboro, the Indians beat perennial 6A state contender Century and nearly knocked off NWOC nemesis Hillsboro. Hillsboro is the reigning district champions. St. Helens has great participation numbers. But Scappoose could very well be amongst the favorites in the NWOC if it can stay healthy.

Freshman Anthony Comer (120) placed fifth at the RJRR, beating a state placer along the way.

FILE PHOTO - Scappoose standout wrestler Riyle Kauffman and the Indians will be one of the better teams in the Northwest Oregon district. "He's been outstanding," Byrd said of Comer. "He's had a lot of mat time already in his career. He's coming in ready to wrestle some of the best kids in the state. He has a lot of heart and knows how to wrestle, too."

DeGrande took fourth and showed great signs of improvement battling against grapplers he struggled with last year. Frates took third overall, beat a few state placers and continued to cement himself as one of the top entrants in his weight class. Freshman Trey Dieringer (170) won his first varsity match at the RJRR.

"Trey has one of the more impressive work ethics I've ever seen," Byrd said. "He's an extremely coachable, hard-nosed kid. By the end of the year, nobody is going to want to wrestle him."

Sandstrom narrowly lost a one-point match to the top heavyweight in the state after losing to the top-ranked heavyweight in 6A on Friday. The big guy is beginning to show more consistency on the mat, Byrd said, which is matching his high talent level.

"He's going be tough to win against," Byrd said. "He competes with the best kids in the state consistently. He's the type of kid that can win every single match he wrestles. We have pretty high expectations for him. We're hoping he peaks and contends for a state title for sure."

The Indians had 12 girls competing throughout the year last season and continue to churn out tough, competitive wrestlers. Jim Jones is the girls' head coach, but the boys and girls practice together every day in the mat room. Sophomore Bella Amaro and senior Emma Jones are the top returners. Amaro made state history when she took third at the OSAA-recognized state girls wrestling championship last year.

"She's really an elite level wrestler who has an amazing work ethic," Byrd said. "She's an extremely talented competitor and one of the best girl wrestlers in the state."

Jones is a state placer and a standout multi-sport athlete who has offers to play soccer at the collegiate level.

"She's a really, really tough competitor," Byrd said. "She's probably not as fine-tuned as Bella, but she's super scrappy and she has a great work ethic."

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