Lakeridge wrestlers win Civil War meet
With one dual meet left before districts, Lakeridge and Lake Oswego's wrestling teams squared off in the annual Civil War meet. Both teams are in the midst of rebuilding their programs and their respective coaches have pointed to this season as being a cornerstone in each transformation.
The meet itself belonged to Lakeridge. The Pacers won 54-18, taking seven of the nine contested matches all of which were won by pin or technical fall.
Each of the first three weight classes were forfeited, two by Lake Oswego and one by Lakeridge and the Lakers got off to a good start.
At 125 pounds, Lake Oswego's David Shin got Phil Rogers out of position and was able to turn him onto his back for a pin.
'We came out with all cylinders firing. Phil had a takedown but got out of position and (Shin) made a good move and he got a fall,' Pacer coach Bret Stamper said.
But Lakeridge rebounded quickly and won the next four matches. Ben Shipley got things started for the Pacers, pinning his opponent at 130 pounds. Zac Bailey followed by earning a pin at 135.
Then freshman Mike Tavarres put together one of his better matches of the season for Lakeridge, earning a technical fall at 140 pounds.
'Mike's really developing quickly. He's got so much talent and he can make a match with anybody,' Stamper said.
Jeff Saporito was equally impressive in his match at 145 pounds, which he also won with a pin.
'Jeff's really turned the corner. He's starting to win his close matches and wrestling very smart,' Stamper said.
Lake Oswego picked up a victory at 152 pounds when Max D'Annibale recorded a pin over Pacer freshman Rich Rogers.
D'Annibale has been one of the Lakers' most feared wrestlers all season and is Lake Oswego's best chance at earning a berth at state.
'That's definitely one of Max's goals and he has a shot at it. Right now he's only lost one match in league,' Laker coach Chad Smith said.
Lakeridge then won the next two matches by pins. Senior Taylor London bested his opponent at 160 pounds and sophomore Ryan Bliss won at 171.
But Lake Oswego was hampered at 171 pounds by the absence of Pat Barry. This was slated to be the final match of Barry's high school career as he is graduating early to join the Marines.
However, in the team's previous meet against Clacakamas, Barry tore his MCL and is now rehabilitating it.
'That was really tough for us. We probably could have had a good outcome in that match. That's a tough way for his season to end,' Smith said. Lakeridge forfeited the 189-pound match and then Tyrell Fortune won at 215 pounds and Lake Oswego forfeited the heavyweight match.
Fortune is a strong favorite to repeat as a state champion and, according to Stamper, he has made it a goal to win the title without yielding a point against him.
'Tyrell's biggest challenge will come at a national level. He's so far ahead of his competition,' Stamper said.
Stamper believes that, with some stellar performances, as many as seven Pacer wrestlers have a chance to advance to state but, realistically, a group of five heading to the Memorial Colesium would be a phenomenal accomplishment for a program that, in recent years, would often only have five to seven wrestlers present at a dual meet. And Stamper hopes this is just the beginning for Lakeridge wrestling.
'We want to be sending 15 guys to state. There's a lot of work to be done but I think we've made a statement this year,' Stamper said.
Both Lake Oswego and Lakeridge have regenerated interest in youth wrestling, which is a huge first step in rebuilding a program and if Stamper and Smith have their way, the Pacers and Lakers will be battling with each other for league titles in the near future.
'We wrestled with a lot of pride tonight. And we've won three dual meets this year which is great. I'm not sure when the last time that happened was,' Smith said.
Lakeridge takes on Oregon City tonight (Thursday) and Lake Oswego will battle West Linn in the team's final meet before districts.