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Mustangs look to surprise some people


Theyve got some holes in their lineup, but theyve also got talent

by: JOHN DENNY - Milwaukie veterans (from left) Mitchell Ponnay, Eric Lippi, Brenton Oten and Rene Ramos believe the Mustangs will surprise some people in Northwest Oregon Conference wrestling this winter. Lippi says the intensity is up in the wrestling room, and he believes the Mustangs can rally their troops around a warrior mentality.Milwaukie High School wrestling coach Robert Lippi says that 2012-13 will likely be a building year for Milwaukie in wrestling.

“We are in a rebuilding year,” Lippi said. “We lost a lot of seniors last year. We’ve got some good kids, but we’ll have some holes. If we could finish in the top half of league, I’d be very pleased.”

Lippi said that he anticipates that Sherwood and Sandy will once again be the top teams in the league, although he expects the Northwest Oregon Conference to be tough from top to bottom.

Lippi says he’s got at least five wrestlers he expects to qualify for state this season — seniors Chase Blackwell (185), Eric Lippi (152) and Mitchell Ponnay (126); junior Brenton Oten (170); and sophomore Jordan Ostrander (126).

“I’d be extremely disappointed if they didn’t make state,” Lippi said.

Blackwell was a district champion at 170 last season. Eric Lippi placed third at 145, Oten placed fourth at 160, and Ostrander placed fifth at 113.

“Mitchell had a pretty good win-loss record last year,” Lippi said. “But he had a terrible district meet.”

Two other Milwaukie wrestlers return who placed at district last year — senior Rene Ramos (220), fifth at 220; and sophomore Chris Burton (132), sixth at 120.

Coach Lippi is also high on senior Cameron Karsten; junior Robert Akil (160), a transfer from Open Meadows who grew up in Milwaukie; and on sophomore Justin Edwards (113 to 120).

“He’s a little guy who came out late last year,” Lippi said of Edwards. “He should have a pretty good season.”

Lippi said that Akil, Ramos, Edwards, Burton and Karsten all “have the potential to go to the state tournament.”

Eric Lippi, Oten and Blackwell qualified for state last year, but all three exited quickly, with losses in their first two matches. They plan to qualify again this year and do some damage when they get there.

“I’ve been to state twice and both times I’ve been out in two matches,” Lippi said. “I wrestled the eventual state champion in my first match last year. This year I want to go to state and win at least a couple of matches.”

“My goal’s to finish top two in district and to get on the podium at state,” Oten said.

Eric Lippi admits the Mustangs have been hurt by graduation, but he says he believes they may surprise some people.

“This year we have a lot of fresh talent and the intensity is up,” Eric Lippi said. “I think we’ll be able to build a sort of warrior mentality.”

“I think we’ve got six or seven kids [who will qualify for state] for sure,” Oten said. “And we could have eight or nine. It all depends on people stepping it up and getting after it in the wrestling room.”

“If we work for it, I think most of our seniors could go, along with a couple of our juniors,” Lippi said. “It’s all about hard work in the room, keeping your grades up, and teamwork. It takes looking out for your teammates as well as yourself.”

“It’s a mental thing,” Oten said. “Having a mindset that you can do it, and being aggressive on the mat.”

The Mustangs saw their first competition of the season on Dec. 1, when they traveled to Centennial for a dual-meet tournament. Milwaukie forfeited at four weights but still topped Parkrose 48-30. The Mustangs lost in their dual match-ups with Forest Grove (40-21), Aloha (65-6) and Centennial (48-30).

Eric Lippi and Oten fared best in the tournament, both wrestlers winning three of four matches.

The Mustangs held their own in a dual-meet tournament at South Salem last weekend, defeating South Salem 54-11, while coming up short, with losses to South Albany (54-24) and Corvallis (48-35).

“Actually, we wrestled pretty well on the mat,” coach Lippi said. “We spotted South Albany 30 points on forfeits, and Corvallis 24 points on forfeits. We beat Corvallis on the mat and we tied South Albany.”

Eric Lippi (160) and Akil (170) both went undefeated at South Salem. Akil won all three of his matches by first-round fall, pinning Jeremy Reddecopp of South Salem, Nic Smith of South Albany and Daniel Garver of Corvallis.

Lippi earned second-round falls over Chad Fortier of South Salem and Ethan Hull of Corvallis.

Oten went 2-1, winning two matches by fall, despite wrestling up a weight at 182.

Sophomore Clay Bispham was impressive, going 2-1, and winning matches by fall at 195 and at 220. Ramos (285) also won two of three matches.

The Mustangs begin league competition this Thursday, when they do battle with cross-town rival Putnam on the road.

The Mustangs host a tournament on Friday, Dec. 14. They have another league match on Thursday, Dec. 20, when they entertain St. Helens.

Milwaukie went 4-3 in league dual meets last fall. St. Helens was 2-5 and Putnam went 1-6.