Scappoose wrestling starting to peak at the right time
There isn't just a handful or so of wrestlers standing out in Scappoose.
When asked who's impressed him the most over the last month of the season, head coach Nick Byrd responded, "our entire lineup". That answer was half tongue-in-cheek, half unelaborated. Byrd really enjoys coaching this group of wrestlers. They're accountable self-starters who pour themselves into the sport for their own doing and the betterment of their teammates. Scappoose competes, but better, it brawls. Pins, decisions, near falls, or simply staying in the thick of it against a more talented performer, it doesn't matter. The Indians are battlers. And over the last month that culture Byrd and his staff have so diligently cultivated has borne out. They beaten teams such as Milwaukie, Parkrose, West Albany and Rainier, battled with bluebloods such as Thurston, Redmond and Castle Rock (WA), shown competitive grit at big meets such as the Pac Coast Second Chance, the Oregon High School Classic, Pacific Rim and the Pac Coast Wrestling Championships.
"They don't back down from a fight no matter who they're wrestling," Byrd said. "We have a lot of kids who are like that naturally, but it also comes from the culture. They're a huge part of our culture, that mentality of working hard and rising to the challenge and meeting things head-on. We have a lot of kids who embody that and are willing to put it all on the line, get out there and get after it. We talk about that mental and physical toughness on a daily basis."
With three Northwest Oregon Conference dual meets to go and one more invitational to take on, Scappoose is driving into the stretch run of the season on a tear. Guys like Cutter Sandstrom (285), AJ DeGrande (126), Trevor Jackson (160), Colton Frates (138) and Trey Dieringer (170) continue to shine and standout. Sandstrom and DeGrande keep gaining on some of the best grapplers at the Class 5A level.
"Nothing is given to you in the sport of wrestling, you have to go out and earn it, and those kids have definitely done that," Byrd said. "They've bought into that mentality. I think we have a lot of guys who are peaking at the right time and are up for the challenge. Hopefully, we can stay healthy and finish strong toward the end of the season."
Jerico Archer (220) was "kind of quiet" the past two years, Byrd said, but he's stepped up big and has been really as of late. Brett Krieger had a "rough" start to the season, yet he's turned it on "big-time", winning 11 of his last 14 matches.
"Those guys at the top of the lineup are really following Cutter's lead and making sure we're really tough at the top end," Byrd said. "We only lost one or two matches above 182 (pound level) at the (Oregon) Classic, so that's a pretty impressive thing to go do."
Byrd said Scappoose is cleaning up its techniques, focusing on positioning while building up lung capacity through strength and conditioning. The best way to get into wrestling shape, Byrd explained, is to wrestle. Drills are high paced with long, live periods of wrestling with cardio sessions at the end of each practice. No practice goes over two hours. Some sessions only an hour and a half. But getting into top physical form is a case by case basis. Byrd can also push and pry so much. Every wrestler has to be willing to well, hurt now and feel the positive effects later.
"Conditioning is an individual thing, you have to work as hard as you can to get better," Byrd said. "You have to break down your wall and make sure you're pushing through stuff. We talk about being comfortable with being uncomfortable. We keep it at a high pace every practice and getting a lot of work done in a short amount of time."
Scappoose will be at the Bill Geister Invitational this weekend in Clackamas before traveling to St. Helens on Feb. 6 for the Seven Mile War. The Indians travel to Putnam for their final dual of the season. The NWOC district championship is Feb. 21-22 at Wilsonville High School.
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