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Tigers are set to rely on their quality

Wrestling -- Tigard may be down a bit when it comes to numbers, but hopes are high
by: DAN BROOD, STRONG STARTER -- Junior Tyler Mangum (left) should be a force for Tigard at 103 pounds.

TIGARD - The numbers aren't quite where he would like them to be, but Tigard coach Jay Butz is encouraged by the wrestlers he does have for the 2006-07 season.

The Tigers return a pair of state qualifiers in seniors Brent Mangum and Andy Howe to head a lineup that Butz figures should be improved top to bottom.

'We've got some solid kids,' Butz said. 'We're a little tougher now. We should do OK, but we're a little thin on numbers.'

That will be bolstered when the team gets some members back from injuries. Until then, Tigard will push on behind Howe, Mangum and seniors Sean Field-Eaton and Marshall Kennedy and junior Tyler Mangum.

Brent Mangum qualified for state last year and went 1-2 after placing third in the Pac-9 Conference district meet. He'll move up from 140 pounds and compete at 145 this season.

'That kid's really stepping up,' Butz said. 'Right now he is our most complete wrestler. His takedowns are unbelievable and he's starting to pin real well.'

Like Mangum, Howe also has aspirations of placing at the Class 6A state meet. After taking third at districts, Howe finished 2-2 at last year's state meet. He'll also jump up a weight class this season and compete at 135.

'He's pretty solid all around,' Butz said. 'His takedowns have looked pretty good.'

Field-Eaton has gotten off to a solid start at 215 pounds. He pinned all three of his opponents at last Saturday's Lincoln Tournament, in which Tigard took third place.

'He's a real strong kid,' Butz said. 'He's been taking people down like crazy. His tempo is constant pressure. That's his biggest improvement.'

Kennedy teams with Field-Eaton to give the Tigers a solid closing duo. The guard on the football team returns for his third season at 285 pounds after placing fourth at district.

'He's matured into a good solid heavyweight,' Butz said. 'He has really good feet and is more of an upper-body wrestler. He tries to throw a lot.'

Tyler Mangum opens Tigard's lineup at 103 in his first season near the limit of the weight class. He started near 80 pounds as a freshman before moving into the 90s last year.

'He's really come on strong,' Butz said. 'He's a really aggressive 103. He just goes after you.'

Junior Will McLellarn solidifies the lighter weights for the Tigers. McLellarn took fourth at 119 at the district meet last year. Tigard also has a pair of promising sophomores in Garret Johnson (130) and Stephen Coburn (152) as well as junior Mike Homma (119).

While competing with the Canbys and Newbergs remains a challenge for the Tigers, they'll be gunning for league rival Tualatin and McMinnville in the new six team Pacific Conference.

'We've got to get Tualatin and McMinnville,' Butz said. 'With Canby and Newberg, you better have everything bolted on tight or you'll lose it.'