Lions' roster is full of youth and talent, and is making major progress
A year removed from a winless 2012-13 wrestling season, things have started to take off for the St. Helens program under the guidance of first-year coach JR Jackson. The Lions went 4-3 at the NW Duals, held at Westview High School in Hillsboro over the weekend, standing toe-to-toe with several big-name 6A opponents and getting several gutsy victories.
St. Helens started off the tournament with an early morning dual against Aloha, getting pins from Cody Jackson (126), Myles Terry (160) and Garett Kust (170) to take a 42-21 lead, but Aloha responded by getting pins in the 195 and 285 divisons and a forfeit at 220, falling just short of St. Helens and losing 42-39 to the Lions in round one.
The third round was equally as gripping. Bend picked up 28 unanswered points, and even though they would forfeit the 106 and 113 matches, the Lava Bears still held a 40-36 edge heading into the 285 match. Mario Olmedo responded by pinning Bend's Drue Bernstien in the second round, giving the Lions just the bump they needed to win 42-40.
After a tough dual with Glencoe in which the Lions won only two matches, they returned to the mat and shocked Lake Oswego in perhaps their most thrilling finish of the day. Down 39-24 after a decision in the 106 division, the Lions got a pin from Tyler Cooper at 113, a major decision from Haidon Allen at 120, and the go-ahead fall from Jackson after just 26 seconds in the 126 division – giving St. Helens a 40-39 victory. The Lions finished up pool competition with a 57-21 loss to Snohomish.
After winning three of six duals in Pool 3 on Friday, the Lions fell to Sunset in the second bracket before losing to Hillsboro on Saturday.
Despite the losses to finish off the tournament, JR Jackson said there were a host of positives to take from the experience, namely a massive confidence boost from the team's ability to hang with the big schools. Early on in the season, some of the first-year wrestlers stepped onto the mat unsure and filled with nerves.
Now they're walking out there with confidence, he said.
1st Round – St. Helens 42, Aloha 39
2nd Round – St. Helens (Bye)
3rd Round – St. Helens 42, Bend 40
4th Round – Glencoe 46, St. Helens 27
5th Round – St. Helens 40, Lake Oswego 39
6th Round – Snohomish 57, St. Helens 21
Sunset 45, St. Helens 24
Hillsboro 45, St. Helens 30
Links to results from each dual will be posted soon.