The Lions hope to keep their momentum going after taking third at regionals last year

The West Linn wrestling team probably won't round into shape until after the winter break but when the Lions are at full strength, they should be one of the top teams in the league again.

The Lions have had to prepare for the season under less than ideal circumstances. The fire at the high school gym this fall has moved West Linn out of its wrestling room and up to the Rosemont Ridge gym.

But the team is in high spirits as many wrestlers are starting the process of getting weight certified.

“I would expect by mid January we'll start to round into shape,” Samarron said.

Close to 50 wrestlers came out for the team this year and West Linn is returning two state place winners in Ethan Staley and Tyler Chay and a handful of wrestlers who fared well at state and regionals.

As was the case last season, West Linn is shallow at the lower weights. The team might not feature a 106-pounder all season.

Both Staley and Joey Donovan will start the season at 120 but the Lions will likely have to forfeit the two lightest weight classes at least early in the year.

“It's just a weird thing. There's just no little guys in the program right now and that's an area where we've traditionally been very strong,” Samarron said.

A pair of freshmen brothers could make an impact in the lower weights this year in Ian and Kane Snapp. Freshmen Tyler Self and Jacob Taylor should also factor in to the varsity line-up this year.

“Our freshman class is low in numbers but very high in quality,” Samarron said.

The Lions feature a logjam at many of the middle weights. Chay is currently ranked No. 1 in the state at 160 pounds, where he took second last year, but he will likely wrestle at 170 or 185 this year.

Tim Harman, who was one match away from placing at state last year, returns to wrestle at 145 this season and Samarron believes he has a very good shot at getting on the podium this year.

Ellis Eaton, who was one match from qualifying for state last year, returns to wrestle at 220 this year along with Adam Roethe, who will fill in at 160 or 170 pounds.

The Lions feature a strong and experienced senior class this year. Trent Porter has paid his dues in the program and should be a big factor in one of the middle weights this year. And Sam Nicholson returns after missing last season after breaking his ankle.

“We'll be very strong and go three or four deep in some weights and in others we might just be strong at the varsity level,” Samarron said.

Garrett Harmon should also be a strong competitor for West Linn in one of the upper weights while Michael Mutchler returns with varsity experience and will fill in at 132 or 138.

The Lions should be tough to handle at heavyweight again this year. Isaiah Molden returns and Noah Bagley has incredible potential if he is able to get weight certified.

West Linn may not be the most formidable dual meet team this year with a few gaps in its line-up. However, much like last year, the team should be very strong in tournaments.

The Lions will look to peak by the end of the season to qualify as many wrestlers as possible for state.

Last year West Linn finished third in one of the toughest regions in the state and was ranked in the top-10 for much of the year.

“It's not how you start it's how you finish and that's something we've done well,” Samarron said.

The Lions will look for a repeat of that performance and hope to have a few more state qualifiers.

“Last year we had four guys make it. This year I'd hope for six or seven,” Samarron said.

West Linn opens its season on Friday with three duals against David Douglas, Corvallis and Sunset.

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