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UPDATE: Scappoose Indians bests St. Helens Lions 61-14 in Thursday night match, Feb. 6, in St. Helens

PMG MEDIA PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Scappoose standout wrestler AJ DeGrande took first place overall at the Bill Geiser Invitational.

(Editor's note: The original version of the story published prior to the conclusion of the Scappoose vs. St. Helens match Thursday evening, Feb. 6)

Whoever was assigned the head officiating duties for the Seven Mile War wrestling match at St. Helens High School, a quick prayer was needed for them this week.

Their ears are sure to be ringing for seven days or so afterward. Their pride will be tested. The thickness of their skinned will be strained. Their knowledge of the sport will be questioned and appraised from the first meet of the night through the last. Scappoose and St. Helens have two of the best wrestling fan bases at the Class 5A classification level. They're passionate and well educated, even if they never grappled before in their pasts. They're loud, proud and loyal. Both sections want bragging rights for their respective communities. Each team is fairly balanced and stacked with Northwest Oregon Conference district contenders. Head-to-head, it feels like a dual meet that'll boil down to a decision or two. The fans will be locked and loaded. The wrestlers are ready to wage war. The atmosphere will be electric and hostile, as it always whenever they two schools square each other up in any sport.

"It's not going to be one of those matches where it's fun to be a ref at," St. Helens head coach Greg Gadbois said with a laugh. "But it'll be a fun one to watch with two teams being so close together. The kids know each other. The families know each other."

At the Bill Geiser Invitational in Clackamas, Scappoose's A.J. DeGrande placed first in the 120-pound weight class and Trey Dieringer won the 152-pound title to lead the Indians to a second-place finish at the Bill Geister Invitational wrestling tournament at Clackamas High School.

PMG MEDIA PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Scappoose standout wrestler Cutter Sandstrom took second place overall at the Bill Geiser Invitational. Scappoose's Colton Frates was second at 138, Cutter Sandstrom was second at 285, and four other Scappoose wrestlers placed as the Indians racked up 192 points to tournament champion Centennial's 198.5 points. The Indians' other placers were Anthony Carter (third at 113), Deacon Smith (fifth at 170), Riyle Kauffman (fifth at 182), and Wyatt Anicker (sixth at 132).

As a team, Scappoose went 44-20 with 18 pins, four technical falls, and four major decisions.

DeGrande, the No.3 seed at 120, opened the tournament with a 19-4 technical fall over Canby's Ty Ewens in the round of 16. He then scored a 20-3 technical fall over Tigard's Cade McCallister in the quarterfinals, followed by a 7-4 decision over No. 2-seed Elija Fisher of Cleveland in the semifinals, and then a 6-1 decision over top-seeded Moses Mercier of Willamina in the finals.

Dieringer, seeded first at 152, pinned Lincoln's Elliot Hendren in his first match, then won by a 20-4 technical fall over Tigard Jordy Espitia in the quarterfinals, followed by a 13-0 major decision over No. 5-seeded Spyre Nelson of Willamina in the semifinals, and a 14-5 major decision over second-seeded Zach Anderson of Ridgeview in the final.

It was a two-day tournament and there were 26 teams. Gavin Schaer, Mavrick Rask, Narcizo Garza, Justin Garcia, Tristin Buchanan and Dylan Scott are big-time who can potentially beat anybody put in front of them for St. Helens. Meanwhile, Scappoose counters with one of the most talented heavyweights in the state Sandstrom, DeGrande (126), Frates, Dieringer and Jackson. Those 11 matches could easily end up nearly split in half with St. Helens winning six and Scappoose taking five. That leaves four weight class bouts that will swing the balance of wrestling power in Columbia County. Both teams field full lineups with no forfeits. Each squad is stacked with district contenders and possible state places.

"They'll come out and be ready," Gadbois said of Scappoose. "They want to beat us as bad as we want to beat them. It'll be a good one. They have some talented kids throughout their lineup, so there will be one or two key matches. We know the matches we're favored in and the matches they're favored in. In order for us to win, we're going to have to win some of those matches that we're not favored in. The kids know that. They know it's possible. Anything can happen in these matches."

St. Helens' gym lends itself to a festive wrestling atmosphere because there is a crowd on both sides of the mat. Additionally, the fans are essentially on top of the action. The acoustics coming down at the wrestlers when everything is live is different than most host schools. St. Helens has the home mat advantage if you will. That'll liven the energy of each wrestler, even the lesser-knowns who might be counted out on paper.

"A lot of teams come in here and think we have a great setup for wrestling," Gadbois said. "Our fan support has been huge this year. We're filling the gym most nights. It's a lot of fun at our place. And of course, (Scappoose's) fans won't have far to go, so they'll be there too. We're expecting a great meet."

Jim Beseda of the Clackamas Review contributed to this story.


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