Competition fuels Wilsons bid
Prep Watch • Favorites of PIL 6A wrestling have deep and talented squad
The biggest challenges for some Wilson wrestlers come in the team's 'challenge matches.' It's Trojan versus Trojan in practice, by weight class, for the right to wrestle in the next meet.
Coach Mark Marchese has as deep a lineup as anyone in the Portland Interscholastic League, except for possibly 5A Cleveland. Wilson won the PIL 6A title last year and goes into Wednesday's dual meet at Grant as a favorite to repeat.
The Trojans are doing it with accomplished, multisport athletes. Senior Trevor Beltz, an all-PIL 6A running back, is one of six defending district champions. Heavyweight Jacob Mitchell is another football player shooting for another league wrestling crown.
Ian Hudson, Nick Dorsey and Nick O'Donnell also are among those who came from the gridiron, while twins Bailey and Brent Graham are standout baseball players.
'A lot of our guys are two- or three-sport athletes, and it really makes a difference in knowing how to compete,' Marchese says.
Marchese says he doesn't ask his wrestlers to do the sport year-round in a club program.
'Wrestling is so physically and emotionally demanding, I think kids do need a break from it sometimes,' he says.
In addition to Beltz and Mitchell, Bailey Graham, Jared Casner, John Brooks and Hayden Herder won district titles last year. Most of them have moved up a weight class, with Mitchell bulking up from about 214 pounds to 240.
Sophomore Alex Durant has wrestled at 103 pounds. Spencer Kelly, second at district a year ago, is competing well at 145. Hudson also was a PIL 6A runner-up in 2007, and he is looking strong at 171.
'Hudson and Beltz have been putting in high levels of performance,' Marchese says. 'The problem is they're in the same weight class. We have some tremendous challenge matches every week, especially at some of our upper weights. These guys go back and forth.'
Wilson beat Lincoln 63-14 a few weeks ago and Benson 64-9 Wednesday in PIL 6A dual meets.
The Trojans will be tested, though, when they host a four-way meet Jan. 23. Taking part are Franklin from PIL 6A and PIL 5A's top teams, Jefferson and Cleveland. Last year, Jefferson edged Wilson on criteria after the teams tied in points, while Cleveland 'handled us pretty good,' Marchese says. 'We know the Cleveland guys are anxious to wrestle us, and we're anxious to wrestle them.'
One of the biggest days of the season is Jan. 21, when the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Classic returns to the Rose Garden.
Terrell Brandon, the NBA All-Star guard from Grant High, and other organizers have put together another outstanding slate of games - and all-day tickets are only $10, with all seats general admission.
11 a.m. - Seattle Prep vs. Heritage (Vancouver, Wash.) girls
12:30 p.m. - Benson vs. Grant girls
2 p.m. - Mark Morris (Longview, Wash.) vs. Kelso (Wash.) boys
3:30 p.m. - King tribute, with several local performers
5 p.m. - Southridge vs. Oregon City girls
6:30 p.m. - Jefferson vs. Roosevelt boys
8 p.m. - Benson vs. Grant boys
nThe Benson-Grant finale at the King Classic will match the PIL 6A teams that had their first meeting of the season suspended at halftime on Tuesday. A fight that began in the stands and spilled onto the court caused the game to be cut short, with Grant leading by 18 points.
'If it makes a difference in the final standings, we'll finish the game at the end of the season, resuming where we left off,' district Athletic Director Greg Ross says.
Ross says the incident 'seemed unrelated to the game' and might not even have involved Benson or Grant students. No changes in security procedures are planned, he says.
'We have it about as tight as you can get it,' Ross says. 'We had three police officers, security people, administrators, staff from both schools and campus monitors there -as much security as we would at any big game. It was dealt with quickly, and we followed our procedure.'
Grant coach Tony Broadous says his team was disappointed not to finish the game.
'I know they have to think safety first,' he says, 'but I hate it when guys who aren't even students, or aren't serious students, can ruin something for students who are taking care of business.'
nNo one is safe in PIL 5A boys hoops. One round of league play demonstrated that.
Marshall (3-9 last year) knocked off visiting Roosevelt (10-2 and state runner-up last season) 77-76 Tuesday.
'To be honest, I expected to win,' Marshall coach Don Elwell says.
The Minutemen led by eight to 10 points for most of the game. The Roughriders stormed their way back and tied it at 76 on a pair of free throws by senior wing Cameron Jackson with 50 seconds left.
A free throw by senior post James Beckwith gave Marshall the lead. The Roughriders had a chance to win, but Titus Kolokolo was called for a controversial traveling violation in the paint with 10 seconds remaining.
• Lincoln's girls went through a demanding preseason and play host to Grant tonight in the first of three meetings that should decide the PIL 6A title.
It's all but a foregone conclusion that Cleveland will win the PIL 5A boys and girls titles. First-year coach Spencer Crum wants to point his swimmers' training to the state meet.
The top girls returnee is Whitney Dawson, who had second- and third-place finishes at state as a junior, after winning the league 200 and 500 free and swimming on two first-place relays. Sophomore Hannah Gilden, junior Nicole Test and senior Leia Tyrrell also have had good early performances.
On the boys side, seniors Luke Donohue and Vince Wilke both won two PIL 5A individual events and swam on two winning relay teams as juniors last year. They are backed by sophomores Hunter Goode and Cooper Langdahl, junior Evan Schakols and seniors Evan Landman and Natan Brownstein.
nMadison's girls have several district contenders, too. The best appears to be sophomore Cherith Schuck, who also competes on the David Douglas Swim Club. Junior Dani McConnell and others lend depth to the Senators.
The up-and-coming Madison boy swimmer also is a sophomore, Adam Stone.
nKey dual meets remaining this season are Cleveland-Madison today and Lincoln-Wilson on Jan. 18. The district meets are Feb. 1 and Feb. 2.