Ever so close to a Northwest Oregon Conference district tournament title, Scappoose will gladly settle for four district champs, twelve Class 5A state championship meet qualifiers and the possibility of a team trophy come this weekend.
The Indians had their imprint all over the NWOC tournament, taking home district titles from freshmen Anthony Comer (113 pounds) and Trey Dieringer (152) as well as veteran stars AJ DeGrande (120) and Cutter Sandstrom (285) to accompany eight other top-three finishes and therefore state bids. Scappoose finished second with 306 points, behind Hillsboro who won NWOC with 342.5 points. The Indians, however, took home the dual meet championship determined during the regular season.
"We have a lot of kids who are close to breaking through and are super confident because they've put in the work," Scappoose head coach Nick Byrd said. "They've done all the right things. They've bought in. We've had some of the best practices we've had in a long time because those kids are willing to work at a high level. Through that, they've built confidence in themselves and it's reflected on the mat."
Scappoose's girls' team is talented and primed for a big state showing as well. The Indians won the North division, which is comprised of 66 teams, and sent four grapplers to state. Every girl at the tournament won a match. Bella Amaro, one of the more renowned girls' grapplers in the state, took first. Emma Jones, Ruby Gibson and Tess Conway took third place.
"The girls have had a ton of growth and progress," Byrd said. "They're all wrestling at a super high level. It's pretty exciting for them, to see that growth of our program taking off along with our boys. It's been a fun year seeing both of those teams improving at the rate that they have."
Comer already has 38 wins in his freshman year and dominated the first two rounds of the district tournament before beating St. Helens' Blake Gohlmann in the championship. Byrd believes the 113-pounder is position place at the state meet.
"Comer is a great kid to be around and have in the program, he's super hard worker," Byrd said. "He came into this season ready to compete against some of the top kids in the state and spent the year improving upon what he already has in his arsenal."
Dieringer and fellow 152-pound teammate Trevor Jackson faced off in their weight class championship, with the young freshman getting the better of his older comrade by decision. Jackson took second in the bracket and clinched a berth at state. Dieringer is another star in the making with 37 wins, which tied with Sandstrom for third-most on the team. Byrd said it's hard to step into high school wrestling at a weight like Dieringer's and be one of the top kids in the state, but he put himself in this position through hard work and dedication.
"He's a super high-class kid, super intense, and an ultra-competitor," Byrd said of Dieringer. "He brings it on the mat every time he goes out there. He's the type of kid you love to have in your program because he's always the hardest worker in the room. He really gets after it. It's very uncommon to see a type of kid who is as talented and hard-working as him at such a young age."
DeGrande and Sandstrom have really bought into treating every match like it's a state tournament bout. They bring energy to every fight and are two of the more dependable, accountable grapplers in the program because they're willing to sacrifice to win at a high level consistently, Byrd said.
The 5A level is loaded. There are no weak weight classes. Every match is going to be tight and tenuous. But DeGrande and Sandstrom have both publicly stated they want to win state titles. They've deposited the work required to stand highest on the state podium. And the Indians, as a team, as always, want a top-five trophy as a team. Wyatt Anicker (132) took third, Colton Frates (138), Brett Krieger (195) and Deacon Smith (170) placed second, Ben Rintoul (160), Jerico Archer (220) and Riyle Kauffman (182) all placed third and Raymond Helms (182) took fourth.
"We have a lot of kids who can compete to make it to the semifinals and hopefully the state finals," Byrd said. "You never put pressure on high expectations, but those kids want to win. They know they're some of the top kids in the state. They compete in big-time situations. We focus on not having a lot of highs and lows. You just have to show up and be ready."
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