Trojans wrestlers bring diverse team in third year
Getting a full team to come out for winter wrestling season at the lower classifications can be a difficult endeavor. Given the small pool of potential athletes combined with the intensity of the sport that creates a sometimes intimidating barrier to entry, duals at the 2A/1A level often can consist of only a handful of matches across all 14 weight classes.
But for Kennedy head coach Dewey Enos, the Trojans have stumbled upon something of a Holy Grail this year — 13 student athletes and every single one a different weight.
"I can literally fill 13 out of the 14 weight brackets," Enos said. "That's a needle in a haystack. You don't find that."
Enos is entering his third year at the helm of the revived Kennedy wrestling program, which was brought back in 2017 after being shuttered for more than a decade.
The Trojans qualified two wrestlers for the state tournament in the first year, but were left on the outside looking in last year, giving the team a goal to return to Portland's Memorial Coliseum in February.
But while Enos would like to see a number of maroon-and-navy-clad wrestlers advance that far, he's more focused on the here and now of the season — the day-to-day grind that produces the kind of wrestler who is capable of making a state tournament berth.
"We're more focused on taking it one tournament at a time, one match at a time," Enos said. "We do want to know what our goals are and what we're working towards. But at the same time, you have to prepare every day like it could be your last. Tomorrow is never promised and you want to make sure these kids get out what they put in."
Leading the pack is junior lightweight wrestler Mateo Morrow, who was one of two Trojans to qualify for state as a freshman in 2017 and is somewhat of a seasoned veteran at this point in the Kennedy mat room.
Morrow can be slated in anywhere between 106 pounds and 113, depending on how the competition looks. That versatility rings true at nearly every weight class for the Trojans.
Fellow juniors Cole Boen and Jose Peralta sit on the other end of the weight spectrum, with Boen capable of filling in at 182 to 195 while Peralta can slip between 220 and 285.
Juniors Daniel Beltran Reyes and David Reyes can work in the middle weight classes, with the latter still on the mend following an injury in the state football championship on Nov. 30.
The rest of the team is made of almost entirely of freshmen, a positive sign as Enos looks to grow the Trojans' program each year. Even more positive is the fact that each one can step into a different weight class, allowing Enos to practically fill out a full roster without any overlapping wrestlers.
"I'm good friends with (another coach), and he just complained about having 12 152-pounders," Enos said incredulously. "And I've got 13 kids."
Among those first-year wrestlers is 170-pounder Lucas Bischoff, who Enos had experience with a decade earlier as part of the Salem Elite club. Bischoff wrestled for three years as an elementary school student, took a half decade off and returned to the sport last year.
Entering this season, Enos said Bischoff has grown considerably just in his first two tournaments — opening the season with a couple wins in Harrisburg, followed by a third-place performance a week later in Scio, where he was the lone wrestler to go the distance with the bracket champion, falling 11-9 en route to a third-place finish on the day.
"From the first to the second tournament, it was a like a whole different person and hopefully it's going to get better," Enos said. " I'm really excited to see what this year will bring for him."
Fellow freshman Adam Beltran-Reyes also shows promise after claiming first place in the 106-pound bracket at the Hagerty Invitational hosted by Nestucca on Dec. 20 — going 2-0 with a pair of victories by major decision and pinfall to win his first bracket title in his first tournament ever.
Elsewhere on the roster, freshman Alexandra Geschwill joins the Trojans after transferring from the Woodburn School District, and will be slated in between 132 and 138.
"She wrestled at the Woodburn Mat Club as a kid," Enos said. "I'm going to have her go with the girls and see how she does. I haven't had her really wrestle with any of the boys, because I want to ease her in."
Where the season takes Enos and the Trojans is up to the team. Wrestling is an endurance sport, not just on the mat, but in the classroom and in practice, and teams are rarely the same at the end of the season as they were at the beginning.
The sport is meant to weed out those who can't commit fully, and Enos is ready to make sure the hardest part of any given week isn't under the lights in front of a crowd, but in the empty mat room across from St. Mary's Elementary School where the team practices after school.
"I'm strong on making sure you wrestle how you practice," Enos said. "If you go hard in practice, you're going to go hard in matches. As long as you're going hard in practice, you should see you're setting yourself up to dominate."
"Daniel Beltran says it best, he goes 'Practice is harder than matches,'" Enos recalls. "That's my goal. Once those matches get hard, you can say 'I have been here in the practice room.'"
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.