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Tribe wrestling does things the right way

Everything including hydration, training and nutrition - but no spam - needs to be done right in order to find success, says Head Coach Jim Jones


by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Hunter Hoyt (left) and Tyler Walden (right) square off during practice on Wednesday. As veterans in the program, head coach Jim Jones expects wrestlers like Hoyt and Walden to both lead by example and take a teaching role with the younger athletes.After just a few minutes with Scappoose wrestling coach Jim Jones, it's easy to tell he has a propensity for doing things the right way. Everything from eating right and exercising right to competing with character is fair game, and in recent years, it's all panned out.

Coach of the 4A state champion Indians in 2010, Jones returns once again for his 13th season with the same emphasis on taking care of the basics – nutrition and plain old wrestling – to get the kids ready for the season.

“One of the concepts is ‘pick it, kill it,'” said Jones. “If you can pick it – like in nature, you pick an apple – it's probably fine to eat. You can't pick a Twinkie, you should probably stay away from those. Or you can kill it. You can't... what's it called, spam? You can't kill it, so it's probably not good.”

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Scappoose wrestling coach Jim Jones oversees practice this week on Wednesday afternoon. The team focuses on things like fruits, veggies and water, which are “closer to nature,” as well as good wrestling workouts to get in shape rather than running, and though it seems an obvious choice, not everyone tends to buy in to the same system.

Last week, the OSAA suspended 11 wrestlers from Glencoe High School for being under hydrated, and faking the results of a mandatory hydration test. The wrestlers were barred from competition for half of the 2013 season for adding water to urine samples in order to appear in better health. It's a simple solution to get around the testing, Jones said, and even though he doesn't believe it would happen at Scappoose, it might be difficult – and awkward – to catch an athlete in the act.

The Scappoose program's focus on nutrition and a more natural shift in weight classes aligns with the OSAA's regulations, which mandate an athlete can't move too far up or down in the weight classes, for fear the sudden change would result in health risks. The regulation, though, can make things tough on a group like the Indians have this season, which is deep in the 160, 152 and 138 divisions.

“It used to be that you'd get a group of kids who were all one weight and they'd say ‘oh, I'll go up two weights' or ‘oh, I'll go down a weight,' but now it's prescribed by that program,” said Jones. “You're only allowed to go to a certain weight, which is good in some ways, and then I question how accurate all that stuff is.”

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Junior Johnny Tardiff completes a flip during warm ups. Not one of the 'weight-cutting' programs, the Indians get to their weight by wrestling and good nutrition instead of losing water weight and over conditioning.Jones likened the system to a county with no sheriff, as there aren't many ways to enforce the rules set down by the OSAA other than honesty and character. He said there are plenty of kids who make it to the state tournament that look as though they've cut weight, instead of wrestling in the correct weight class and staying healthy. In his program, though, Jones won't have any of it.

“In here, I'm not gonna try to get a kid to cut a bunch of weight if I feel it's unhealthy for him. Their health is more important than winning a match,” he said.

Though some changes will still need to be made for Scappoose to compete at the best of their ability, they still have plenty of time – the whole season, in fact – to peak before the regional tournament rolls around. With the athletes greatly outnumbering the coaches, including the many assistants, part of the process requires a little extra help from some of the more veteran wrestlers.

“We don't usually have a lot of talking in practice, but when I'm watching, they're actually teaching and showing kids the right way to do it,” said Jones.

Things from basic daily tasks like cleaning the mats all the way to complicated moves and training regiments are often handed down from wrestler to wrestler, with the older athletes paving the way for those who follow behind them. Younger athletes are brought on board rather than forced to earn their keep, hopefully opening the door for them to stay and flourish in time. Jones wants to be sure the new kids aren't simply left to figure things out on their own, but rather welcomed in.

“Our older kids should become more and more coach like as they come through the program,” he said. “Those older kids, it shouldn't be that they earn the right to boss people around, they earn the right to do more for the program.”

The bond between athletes is something Jones works hard to cultivate, and he finds it often becomes the highlight of a young wrestler's career, even above notable victories. He mentioned two wrestlers, who finished with three state titles and a national title respectively that listed the team's annual trip to La Grande, on which the Indians departed early Friday morning, as their favorite memory.

“Both of them, one of their best memories was going to La Grande getting stuck in the snow, staying an extra night, that kind of stuff. Where you think like, was it maybe winning a state title or winning a national title?” said Jones with a laugh. “It isn't always to win a national title. A lot of it is to be with their friends (and) to strive to do something bigger for themselves.”

Scappoose will wrestle at 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon, and again at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning before returning home, Jones hopes a closer-knit bunch than ever before.

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