Oregon City matmen aim to make some more school history

by: JOHN DENNY - Oregon City senior leaders (from left) Tanner Fischer, Devin Poppen and Michael Griffin believe the Pioneers have the horses to do some damage at the state tournament again this season. All three wrestlers placed high at the 2013 State Tournament, as they helped the Pioneers earn second place in the state-meet team scoring, the highest team placing in school history.With nine regional place-winners returning from last year’s team that finished second to defending state champion David Douglas at regionals and at state, the Oregon City Pioneers have high ambitions for the 2013-14 high school wrestling season.

“Last year we placed second at state with seven guys there and six guys placing,” said Oregon City co-head coach Roger Rolen. “We’ve got three guys that placed in the top three at state and nine guys that placed at regionals returning. We figure the three guys that placed top three can win it and the guys that placed at regionals can all place at state this year. If they do that, I think we can win a trophy and maybe the state championship. That’s one of the goals we’ve got up their on the wall in our wrestling room — trophy at state.”

“The sky’s the limit with the potential we have,” said Oregon City co-coach Bobby Bates. “We have strong senior leadership and, if the kids continue to work hard and listen well, I definitely believe we have a shot [at state title].”

Returning to lead the way are senior leaders Devin Poppen, Tanner Fischer and Michael Griffin.

Poppen won a regional title and placed second at state at 113 a year ago; Fischer was regional runner-up at 170 and he placed third at state; Griffin was regional runner-up at 182 and he placed third at state.

“Our team goals are dual meet champions, regional champions and at least a trophy at state,” said Poppen. “Tanner, Michael and me have a good shot at winning state. And we have a lot of guys who came close to going to state last year. They should make it this year and they’ll all have a shot at placing. Guys like Ethan Holt, Grant Hicks, Alex Canchola, Gabe Ellicott and Ryan Leonard. And Keith Arnold, he didn’t wrestle last year, but he has a shot.”

“I definitely do [believe we can win state],” said Griffin. “We’ve got a ton of seniors and we’ve spent the last five-plus years together in this room. We’re not athletes. We’re wrestlers. We’re dedicated. We’ve spent countless hours preparing for this year, and I truly hope that this year we can bring home the gold and make school history again.”

Last season’s state runner-up team finish was the highest placing at an OSAA sanctioned state wrestling tournament in the history of Oregon City High School.

“I believe we can do it,” said Fischer. “But we’re going to have to work hard and get everybody on the team working towards that goal.”

Poppen, Fischer and Griffin also have high personal ambitions.

“Be a state champion, go undefeated, and pretty much dominate everybody I wrestle,” said Fischer.

“My senior goals are to go undefeated in Oregon and walk away from the state championships with a gold metal,” said Griffin.

“A state championship,” said Poppen. “I fell short the last two years and hope to get there this year. I want to go undefeated and break my [school] pin record. And also win the triple crown.”

Other top returning district place-winners are: senior Canchola (fifth at 138), Ellicott (fifth at 160) and Hicks (fifth at 195); junior Dennis Podloujnyi (fifth at 120); and sophomores Larry Bodunov (sixth at 120) and Holt (fourth at 152).

Arnold figures to be one of the top wrestlers in the region, if not in the state, at heavyweight, according to Rolen. Arnold played center for Oregon City’s Three Rivers League championship football team and was named the football team’s most inspirational player.

Rolen says he’s got several other wrestlers with the potential to make state, including seniors Wyatt Griffith (152) and Josh Smith (138), junior Ryan Bergerson (145-152) and several talented freshmen.

“We’ve got 20 freshmen out,” said Rolen. “They’ve come up through the middle school program. They understand the basics and what it takes.”

Bates says that “a very strong coaching staff” should bode well for the Pioneers, as they strive to make history this season.

“We’ve got Roger and his brother Rich,” Bates said. “My younger brother John. Rich’s son Tony. And Ryan La Doucuer. Everyone has their strengths and brings something to the table.”

John Bates went 38-0 his senior year at Oregon City and he went on to become a four-time collegiate All-American.

Although they will be a strong tournament team, Rolen concedes that the Pioneers could have their hands full in winning the TRL dual-meet championship.

“It’s going to come down to match-ups,” Rolen said. “West Linn will be tough. They have eight wrestlers ranked in the state. Canby is solid, and will be a contender. And Clackamas has five or six ranked people....

“Our goal is to win [the TRL district dual title]. But it won’t be easy.... We go to Canby for our first [league dual], and they’re going to be tough.”

Still trying to get wrestlers in the weights where they belong, the Pioneers struggled in this season’s nonleague dual openers, eking out a 34-33 win over Centennial, and yielding to Barlow, 42-40.

“I’m not concerned [with the dual loss to Barlow],” said Bobby Bates. “It’s early. We’re still moving around weights. We’ll get settled in after Christmas. Everything we’re doing now is building towards and preparing for regionals and state, preparing ourselves for the big dance.”

Bates added, “But give credit to Barlow and Centennial. They came to battle because we finished second in the state last year. They both have real strong programs and they wanted to get us.”

The Pioneers travel to Hudson Bay High School Jan. 3-4 for the rugged Pacific Coast Invitational. They battle Canby on the road on Jan. 9 in their TRL opener.

Contract Publishing

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine