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Indians clinch the dual meet championship with big win over the Lions on the road

PMG PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Scappoose star freshman Trey Dieringer was one of nine Indians to win by pin against St. Helens. Scappoose has completely taken the Northwest Oregon Conference by storm.

The Indians, still in their relative inception stage as a Class 5A competitor, are quickly becoming a district dominator. Their state championship fate could very well be just as fruitful.

With a chance to finish the regular season unscathed in dual meets, Scappoose pounded crosstown rival St. Helens 61-14 on Feb. 7 at St. Helens High School, relying on nine pins throughout the evening to clinch the NWOC regular season championship.

Two years into its NWOC existence, Scappoose has already proclaimed itself as the cream of the conference crop. Their core of top-tier wrestlers stacks up with anybody at the 5A level. They can compete with the elites both in the state and around the Northwest region as a whole.

"It's incredibly special for us," Scappoose star Cutter Sandstrom said. "I grew up watching the great Scappoose teams and I always wanted to be a part of them. Now, it feels like I'm a part of one. Watching those teams, the brotherhood, the toughness they had…it was like a dream for me. I wanted to be that. And I feel like we're there."

PMG PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Scappoose star senior AJ DeGrande was one of nine Indians to win by pin against St. Helens. "It's been awesome, we have a really great team," Scappoose standout senior AJ DeGrande said. "We've really come together as a team this year. We've all put in the work, so it feels amazing."

Sandstrom (285), DeGrande (126), Colton Frates (145), Trey Dieringer (160), Trevor Jackson (160), Ashton Kauffman (138), Brett Krieger (195) and Jerico Archer (220) all won by fall against St. Helens. Going into the St. Helens matchup, Scappoose was keenly aware it could crown its first-ever district title at the 5A level with a victory. The night before the match they were focused and hungry, prepared to win on St. Helens' home turf.

"We wanted to come in and compete, ready to wrestle," DeGrande said.

"We were confident in a lot of our matchups," Sandstrom said. "And it's been a really good last couple of weeks for us."

Deacon Smith (170) won by decision over St. Helens star Mavrick Rask, the reigning district champion in his respective weight class. By the time Smith took the mat for the final match of the night, the meet's outcome had long been decided. But still, Scappoose's entire bench got off its feet and cheered their teammate on as he pulled off the biggest upset of the match. There wasn't a single Indian sitting in the metal chairs. Not one grappler was on his or her phone. Even with the title wrapped up and a convincing win over their county counterpart in the bag, Scappoose was determined to give Smith an emotional energy boost in the final minutes of his confidence-building win.

"Our team really gets along and we didn't really have that the past few years," Sandstrom said. "This year, we're tight."

"We have awesome chemistry," DeGrande said. "This whole year we've been like family to each other. We get a little chippy sometimes, but we always put it behind us. We have really great coaches who make sure we're good to one another. Everybody loves everyone."

Sandstrom believes the Indians will have four freshmen qualify for the state meet, starting with Dieringer who made an immediate impact off the bat for the Indians. That infusion of young talent boosted what was already a strong veteran core with DeGrande, Sandstrom, Archer and others in the fold. Sandstrom and DeGrande are on one-man missions this postseason. They don't want just district titles. They're hunting after the biggest game.

"My goal is to win state," Sandstrom said. "That's what I've been working really hard for. I feel like I'm capable of it. It's been a tough past couple of months, but I don't see anybody standing in my way. I think I've become more mature over the years. You get used to practice after practice and you finally just click with stuff."

DeGrande has developed in a consistent, steadfast star for the past two years. Over the summer the senior developed his skill set by wrestling against some of the best wrestlers in the state regardless of classification. In the same vein as Sandstrom, DeGrande said he's matured and grown up throughout his career. They both have seen the proverbial light flick when it comes to the work required to become a state champion caliber grappler.

"You start to like the grind," DeGrande said. "Once all that hard work you put in over time pays off, it feels really good and you want to keep doing it."

Both standouts believe Scappoose can win the NWOC district tournament this weekend at Wilsonville High School and then zone in on a top-five finish as a team at state in two weeks.

"We're definitely capable of it, we just have to wrestle to our best," DeGrande said. "Everybody just has to wrestle the best they can, be strong, put points on the board, get pins when they can."

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