The Wildcats push St. Helens to the final match before falling 42-39 in NWOC action.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Wilsonville's Austin Sharp works on St. Helens' Aelus Oehlert during his win at 170 pounds at Wilsonville High School on Thursday, June 3.If you want to be the best, you've got to compete against the best.

The Wilsonville wrestling team has certainly taken that adage to heart, battling a couple of the Northwest Oregon Conference's best teams on Thursday, June 3, then taking on a trio of Class 6A squads on Friday, June 4.

While complete results from Friday's West Linn 4 Way Duals weren't available, the Wildcats proved their competitiveness against both St. Helens and Scappoose at Wilsonville High School, dropping a tight 42-39 decision to the Lions, then falling 46-15 to talented Scappoose later in the day.

"My strategy was just to wrestle my match," said senior 182-pounder Marshall Rodenbeck, who won against both St. Helens and Scappoose to remain undefeated. "You have to come out with the mindset to do what you want and not let them do what they want, but it's easier said than done."

"We have a very young team so it's been a little rough, but overall it's good," said senior 170-pounder Austin Sharp, who split his matches against St. Helens and Scappoose. "All the lightweights are pretty much freshman and sophomores, but me and (Rodenbeck) and a few others are juniors and seniors."

After the back-and-forth battle against St. Helens — the Wildcats and Lions won seven weights each — the matchup against Scappoose was much tougher. The Indians — they were unbeaten at 9-0 through June 3 — won all but three weight classes against Wilsonville. By day's end, Rodenbeck was the Wildcats' lone two-time winner.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Wilsonville's Marshall Rodenbeck gets his hand raised in victory after beating St. Helens' Maverick Rask 9-2 at 182 pounds at Wilsonville High School on Thursday, June 3.

He opened with an impressive 9-2 decision over St. Helens' Maverick Rask — the fourth-place finisher in the Class 5A state tournament at 170 a year ago — then came back to pin Scappoose's Franklin Gardner 1 minute, 22 seconds into the second round of their match.

"I knew it was going to be really good. My dad told me about this kid," Rodenbeck said of his win over Rask, noting that his strategy paid solid dividends. "That's the kind of technique stuff you learn when you do club wrestling. About half the stuff they do in club wrestling practice is tactical instead of technical so they teach you what to look for halfway through your match and then that stuff comes as second nature."

Sharp kicked off his day with a second-round pin over St. Helens' Aelus Oehlert, but dropped his ensuing match — his first loss of the season — falling short in a 9-2 major decision defeat to Scappoose's Trey Dieringer.

Despite that, Sharp said that his work in the offseason with his club team — both he and Rodenbeck compete for All-Phase Wrestling — has helped make him a better wrestler as a junior.

"It's just club wrestling and working all through summer (that's) helped me stay conditioned and I've been able to work on tactical stuff like Marshall mentioned," Sharp said.

Other Wilsonville winners (not including forfeits) came from: Jack Ricketts at 113 — he pinned St. Helens' Wyatt Dingman in 1:53; Caleb Wilde at 160 — he pinned St. Helens' Adam Stockwell in 3:15; and Cooper Adams at 145 — he posted a 7-0 major decision over Scappoose's Jonah Campbell.

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