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Forest Grove, Banks wrestling squads prepare for stretch run

Vikings will host this weekend's district tourney while Banks has one last tune-up on the docket

Forest Grove will enjoy some home-mat advantage this weekend when the Vikings host the Special District 5 wrestling tournament.

The district tourney includes the nine teams from the Greater Valley Conference and will begin on Friday at 11 a.m., with championship finals scheduled for Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The top three finishers in each weight class will advance to the Class 6A state championships, scheduled for Feb. 26-27 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.

Forest Grove enters this weekend’s competition with three wrestlers ranked in the top 10 at the 6A level. Senior Matthew Johnson is No. 2 at 132 pounds with a 28-3 record, while junior Lucas Higginbotham (20-8) is No. 8 at 126 pounds and senior Alex Vanderkin (25-7) is No. 9 at 182.

Johnson finished second at 126 pounds at last year’s state tournament and fifth at 113 pounds as a sophomore, so he will undoubtedly be looking to end his career with a state title. Higginbotham took sixth at state as a 113-pounder last year, while Vanderkin will be gunning for his first state tournament appearance.

Meanwhile, Banks will wrap up the regular season this weekend at the Cowapa League championships in Scappoose. That will be the Braves’ final tune-up before the Class 4A Special District 1 tournament, which is scheduled for Feb. 19-20 in Prineville and includes Cowapa teams as well as Corbett, Crook County, Estacada, Gladstone, Madras and Molalla.

Last weekend, Forest Grove had five girls compete at the Oregon State High School Girls Qualifier in Cottage Grove. Atziri Cruz took second in the 138-pound A bracket and Ilean Franco was second in the 120 B bracket.