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The boys and girls wrestling squads are gearing up for another season, facing tough competition.

COURTESY PHOTO: MICHELLE NETT - Wrestling, for both boys and girls, set to begin in early December at St. Helens High School. With high school prep football tucked away until next season, St. Helens High School sports fans are turning their attention to basketball and wrestling.

Boys wrestling coach Greg Gadbois is looking ahead to a season that kicks off in early December.

"Although we do have separate coaches (for boys and girls), we kind of do the same things," Gadbois said. "We're both off to Tillamook on the 3rd of December and that's kind of when the season kicks off. Then we'll be going full steam ahead."

Gadbois was pleased with the team's previous season, as the boys finished second in district and seventh in state while the girls finished eighth in regionals.

Gadbois added, "Coming from where we were to eighth in regionals was a huge step for the girls."

On the boys side, Gadbois is happy to have a lot of the guys returning.

"We were fairly solid last year," he said. "I think we had 13 or 14 boys and we only graduated two of those. We sent 13 boys to state, graduated two, so that means we have a lot coming back."

Three state placers are coming back: Narcizo Garza, Gavin Schaer and Wyatt Dingman.

Gadbois said, "We're pretty experienced. We have a lot of seniors on the team this year, so we're excited to see what they can do. A lot of those seniors have been to state at least once. It should be fun."

The Lions wresting squad, per usual, will be facing tough competition this year.

"5A is pretty tough in this state," Gadbois said. "We have Crescent Valley ranked nationally. They're obviously the team to beat. When you can get 10 of your 14 wrestlers to be state champs, that's pretty incredible. They're the team to beat at the 5A level."

Gadbois continued, "Our league is tough. Scappoose, Hillsboro, Wilsonville, they're all tough teams. We don't have too many nights off, that's for sure. We pretty much are in the thick of it from the beginning."

Camaraderie is strong with Gadbois' team.

"We are a very close-knit team, boys and girls," he said. "We spend the summers lifting. There are probably 20 to 30 kids that lift everyday together. We went to the pumpkin patch together as a team. We're a really close team. They are a ton of fun, both boys and girls. They're so much fun to coach."

According to Gadbois, "We have a total of 47 kids out for wresting so far, which is a ton. I think 15 of those are girls, so that's a great turnout for our girls side. The girls have really been working hard all summer. It has been impressive to watch. They're going to surprise some people, maybe even themselves, with how good they've gotten over the summer."

Gadbois noted that the girls have their own coach this year, Paul Connelly.

"He has worked with our program for a long time, so he fits right in," Gadbois said. "The girls already know him. He was with the junior high for years."

In a COVID world, Gadbois believes his players can handle the challenges.

"Wrestlers are notorious for kind of dealing with the sicknesses of the world," he said. "I think we're set up to handle it really well."

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