Opinion: Fans will miss out on slam dunk wrestling rivalry action
The schedule doesn't include a dual between Scappoose and St. Helens, but we're allowed to dream.
Just a few weeks into my tenure here in south Columbia County, I got a taste of exactly how much residents of Scappoose and St. Helens enjoy the rivalry between one another.
It was back on Aug. 16, when the Lady Lions and Indians girls' soccer teams faced off on the JV field at Scappoose Middle School. For a game that didn't matter in the standings, and featured a rotating roster from the Indians without a real focus on winning the practice match, there were an astonishing number of people there.
The entire sideline was filled with fans. In fact, there were more people there to watch than usually took in regular season games for both teams combined.
We missed out on rivalry match-ups – including the popular seven-mile war football game – throughout the rest of the fall season until basketball rolled around. Then the spark was back, igniting once again as the basketball teams packed their respective gyms with casual fans, students and (if they exist) diehards alike.
Sadly, though, it seems like we won't get to see the wrestling teams square off. It's especially disappointing given the success both teams have had this season. Scappoose looks as though they have a chance to repeat their 2010 Class 4A state title, and St. Helens is on the rise after struggling last year.
Between the two schools, there are at least six wrestlers who could at least challenge for state championships, and in five different weight classes. Braxton Sue (106), Taylor Walden (126), Hunter Hoyt (145) and Isaiah Goodrich (182-195) at Scappoose have lost four matches between the three of them. Meanwhile, Cody Jackson (120-126) has lost just once for St. Helens, and undefeated freshman Myles Terry (152) could easily be considered a frontrunner to win a state title.
That begs the question: Why can't we get a non-league dual between these two programs?
As it turns out, that almost happened. Wrestlers are allowed to participate in 14 events a year with 18 weigh-ins for a maximum of 50 mat appearances. St. Helens lost their spot in a tournament earlier this year, and was looking to find a replacement. At the same time, Scappoose needed a fourth team to round out their 4-way tournament.
Sadly, the two schools missed one another in transition. By the time Scappoose asked St. Helens to fill the spot, the Lions had already found a replacement.
Maybe next year, we can get a dual scheduled ahead of time. The wrestlers, who often train harder than athletes in any other sport, would finally compete in front of full stands.
For now, we'll just have to sit back and imagine how things might play out. If the Lions and Indians clashed today, here's how they would stack up.
Scappoose vs. St. Helens (Projections)
In the 106-pound bout, it's hard to pick against Braxton Sue from Scappoose. Though Tyler Cooper is 13-3, Sue only just lost his second match of the season on Jan. 18, a 10-7 decision in the final of the 106-pound bracket at the Pac-Rim tournament. Right now, Sue wins this one by decision.
Neither team has a standout at 113, and in fact, the Indians often choose to forfeit the match in when competing in duals. Freshman Colton Bush is the projected starter for Scappoose, and if freshman Haidon Allen wrestles down at 113 instead of 120, the Lions should take at least four points. If not, it's a toss up between Bush and St. Helens' Tyler Cooper.
Things start to get fairly interesting at 120 pounds. If Allen stays at 120, he'd face off with Alex Foumal, who has gotten off to a 14-3 start as a junior. As Allen has also had a strong year, that puts a pair of solid wrestlers against one another. Likely a close, hard fought decision, but it could go either way.
At 126 we have another gripping match up – Walden (27-1) against Jackson (13-1). Both wrestlers have a shot at state titles in their respective classes, Walden in Class 4A for Scappoose and Jackson in Class 5A for St. Helens. And an intriguing note: it would be a meeting of old teammates, as Jackson transferred to St. Helens from Scappoose a few seasons ago. Another tough choice, but Jackson has a slight edge for three points.
As it is at 113, both teams are fairly sparse at 132. In fact, Lion junior Michael Bowen is often the only athlete listed at 132. Justin Hering, who has gotten the start at 132 as of late for the Indians, would have to wrestle up from his usual listing at 126. The Lions have a slight edge here as well.
Scappoose has an advantage at 138, as Cody Erhardt has started to pick things up after dropping down from 145. He's been on a tear as of late, winning his last nine matches and is undefeated at 138 this season. He would likely face Thomas Lavoie, and have the odds in his favor.
The Indians firmly hold the 145 bout behind senior Hunter Hoyt, who has won his last 12 matches after losing a 4-3 decision at the NW Duals on Dec. 27. Back then, Hoyt was still wrestling at 152, and has picked up the pace since moving down, winning twice each by technical fall, major decision and fall in his 145-pound matches.
Since Hoyt moved down to 145, the Indians have gotten solid performances from junior Logan Brooks, who swings from 160 to 152, depending on where he's needed. Until losing a major decision and a medical forfeit at the Hood River invite, Brooks had won 11 matches in a row, but he'll likely be facing undefeated Myles Terry at 152, as the Lion coaching staff should be keeping Terry down from 160 for the lighter contest. As good as Brooks has been, this one has to go to Terry by a mile – likely by fall.
St. Helens may bump up their other 152-pound wrestler, Andrew Orr, to face Indian senior Ben Gadbois at 160, and if that happens, the Indians have a clear advantage. If not, the Lions may forfeit this match, but head coach JR Jackson would rather have a wrestler go out and keep the Indians from pinning and getting six points than give up six points off the bat.
The 170 bout could go a number of different ways. Zilen Nichols and Garret Kust have both wrestled at 170 for St. Helens, but there will be a little gamesmanship depending on whether Scappoose has Jonathan Tardif wrestle up at 182. If things go as expected, they'll likely shake out similar to this: Nichols will get a forfeit at 170, while Tardif and Isaiah Goodrich will both wrestle up for Scappoose to take advantage of some inexperience at the upper end of the Lion lineup. It's not an unusual move for the Indians to bump up one or both wrestlers, and forfeit the hole.
Tardif has an advantage over first-year wrestler Daniel Elliot at 182, and Goodrich should have a distinct edge on James Poland at 195, with a possible 12 point jump for the Indians between the two matches.
Finally, Scappooses Devin Ray, now that football is long over, has started to gain traction at 220. Colton Albertson of St. Helens has lost by fall in three of his last five matches, giving Ray an advantage. Mario Olmedo, the likely Lion starter at 285 and the Tribe's Colton Wheeler make for a toss up at heavyweight.
Projected final score:
Scappoose 42, St. Helens 24