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Trojans look to send handful of grapplers to state championships in third year back on mat

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Kennedy junior Cole Boen has gone 26-8 this season and ranks among the top third-seeded wrestlers at this weekends district tournament.As the Kennedy wrestling team prepares for the end of the season, head coach Dewey Enos is hoping the Trojans can play the role of plucky underdog and prolong the season just a little longer.

Coming back from the seeding meeting for this week's district qualifier in Vernonia, the Trojans have three wrestlers seeded in their brackets — Lucas Bischoff, Cole Beyer and Adam Beltran — all of whom are the three seed.

A former 103-pound wrestler in high school, colloquially referred to as a "3-pounder," Dewos can't help but notice the symbolism with what has become his favorite number.

"When you're the 3 seed, you're the underdog, and you always root for the underdog," Enos said. "I've always had that strong belief that just because you're a 3 seed, doesn't mean you can't do it."

In Kennedy's first season reviving its wrestling program, the Trojans sent two student-athletes to the state meet — Mateo Morrow and Carlos Saravia — both of whom also were 3 seeds. After the Trojans missed out on sending anyone to state last year, Enos is hoping the lucky third year is the charm.

"It's going to be exciting to see," Enos said.

Of course, Kennedy can't get to the state tournament on good luck and fortune alone. It's going to take a lot of work, and Enos expects his kids are up to the challenge.

Boen stands as good a chance as any on the Kennedy roster of making it to state. At 182 pounds, Boen has amassed a 26-8 record this year, the best of any of his Trojan teammates.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - A number of Kennedy wrestlers, such as junior Daniel Gutierrez seen here taking down Woodburn's Ricardo Aparicio on Thursday, will have to work themselves through the bracket as underdogs at Vernonia."I don't think there's any other wrestler in this bracket who has the win total he has as a 3 seed," Enos said.

Without any seniors, Boen sits as one of the most experienced wrestlers on the roster and one of few Trojans with district tournament experience. With mostly first-year competitors at the high school level on the roster, the majority of Kennedy's kids will be making their debut at district this weekend.

"I got seven freshmen and 11 kids in the tournament. You're looking at four or five kids who have wrestled at a district tournament," Enos said. "Lots of first-timers."

But two of those first-timers join Boen as 3 seeds in their bracket. Beltran earned the third seed in the 106-pound bracket, and while there are only three wrestlers actually in the bracket, Beltran's 13-8 record this year has been a welcome surprise in his first year of competition, and Enos thinks he has what it takes to challenge for a state berth.

Likewise Bischoff had tallied 15 wins under his belt this season at 170 pounds, returning to the sport after several years off. Enos likes the fact that both wrestlers are in the 3 hole, making them the odd man out in the race for a state berth.

"When you're the 2 seed, you have a lot more pressure because you're supposed to make it to finals," he said.

And while the top two wrestlers in each bracket make it to state, there are a handful of rotating wildcard berths awarded to the top third-place wrestlers who don't qualify.

So even if the Trojans don't put a wrestler in the top two, lucky number three may still get them a golden ticket to Portland's Memorial Coliseum later this month.

"They all have a very good chance of getting it," Enos said. PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - As the third seed of the three-man, 106-pound bracket, freshman Adam Beltran has all the pressure off him and can just wrestle to the best of his ability, says head coach Dewey Enos.

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