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LO wrestlers continue to improve

When Lake Oswego wrestling coach Chad Smith took over the program he said that in seven years he could have a program capable of competing for the Three Rivers League title. And it appears that his plan is right on track.

Thanks to a rejuvenated youth program, the Lakers are fielding one of their strongest programs in years and the future looks bright at the elementary and junior high school levels.

'The program is growing and we're doing all the right things. In about four years I think we're going to be dominant,' Smith said.

Currently the high school team consists of 27 wrestlers, which is one of the biggest turnouts in years.

Lake Oswego is just now getting some of its wrestlers who were on the football team into practices and, when the Lakers are finally at full strength, they should give a number of teams in league a tough battle this season.

One of those returning football players is Khashi Jafari who took second in district last year and will be a force at 215 pounds.

Another state qualifier last season who is returning is Max D'Annibale at 152 pounds. D'Annibale also took second at last year's district tournament.

Those two will lead a well-balanced group of experienced returning wrestlers and young talent.

Smith is also excited about senior Cody Bogart who is out for wrestling for the first time this year and should be very competitive at 119 pounds.

'He's going to surprise some people,' Smith said.

In years past, the Lakers have struggled to come up with a full line-up, which made for some lopsided dual meet scores.

That shouldn't be the case this year as Smith only sees one potential hole in his roster. That alone should be enough for the Lakers to rack up some victories in the TRL.

And Smith believes that he has a handful of wrestlers who could qualify for state.

'We'd love to get three to five guys through districts,' Smith said.

But, currently, Smith is trying to keep things low-key.

'We're not worrying about much right now. The plan is to just work, work, work and we're having a lot of fun,' the coach said.

While the team should be more competitive in dual meets than it has been in years, the focus will continue to be on the district tournament.

'We're not worrying about anything else right now. February 22 is the date and we're planning for that moment,' Smith said.

The Lakers have had one tournament so far and, despite not having a full line-up, competed very well at Glencoe with everyone on JV winning at least one match.

The team is also scheduled to take on Milwaukie on Thursday and then travel to the Benson Tournament but the weather has put both of those meets in jeopardy.