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Tyler Chay and Ethan Staley win regional titles in a terrific showing by the Lions

by: JOHN LARIVIERE - Tyler Chay won the regional wrestling tournament at 170 pounds last week to advance to state.The West Linn wrestling team has been steadily building momentum all season and it appears the wave is close to cresting.

The Lions stormed through the regional tournament last week, taking third place, just 8.5 points behind Oregon City for second. West Linn also advanced 10 wrestlers to state compared to seven for the Pioneers.

“We've been saying all along that this is a team of overachievers. Our mantra for the past few weeks is 'we finish strong,'” coach Doug Samarron said.

West Linn had two district champions. At 170 pounds, Tyler Chay entered the tournament undefeated on the year and lived up to his No. 1 seed.

Chay won his first two matches with falls to advance to the semifinals. There he faced a tough opponent from Canby and ground out a 10-4 victory to move into the championship match.

Facing a familiar Oregon City opponent, Chay wrestled a smart match and won 4-1.

Chay now enters the state tournament as the top seed at 170 without a blemish on his record this season.

“If Tyler wins state, he'd be the first guy I can remember to do that for us and go undefeated. For a lot of guys, it's almost a relief when they lose that first match but Tyler likes that pressure,” Samarron said.

At 120 pounds, Ethan Staley was the top seed in his bracket and he also met high expectations. Staley scored a pair of second-round falls to move into the semifinals and then drew a strong opponent from David Douglas.

Staley held on for a 6-5 victory and then dominated his opponent in the championship match 11-2.

At 113 pounds, freshman Ian Snapp found it easy scoring points in his first two matches, winning 15-9 and 12-0 to advance to the semifinals.

He then fell to a strong Lake Oswego wrestler but won his consolation match 21-12 to earn a trip to state. Snapp would forfeit the third-place match with an injury but will still wrestle at the Memorial Coliseum this week.

At 126 pounds, Kane Snapp came up one match shy of qualifying for state, settling for a sixth place finish. Michael Mustchler also took sixth for the Lions at 132.

At 138, Tim Harman was the No. 1 seed for West Linn and he scored two pins and a technical fall to move into the finals against the No. 2 seed from David Douglas.

In perhaps the best championship match of the tournament Harman went to overtime before being edged out 2-1. Harman still received a solid draw at state, potentially facing the No. 4 seed in the bracket in the second round.

“Tim's got a good draw and could very well see that same kid again. He can beat anyone on any given day,” Samarron said.

At 145, Trent Porter made the semifinals before being beaten. He then had to bow out of the fifth-place match with a shoulder injury, a match that Porter was winning at the time.

At 152, a pair of freshmen stole the show for the Lions. Tyler Self scored 8-0 and 9-1 wins to move into the semifinals and then picked up a 6-3 win over a tough Canby wrestler.

In the finals, Self gave his opponent from Barlow everything he could handle but fell 3-2, still earning a trip to state.

Jacob Taylor also made waves, recording a technical fall before losing to the eventual champion of the bracket. Taylor then scored two big wins in consolation before falling into the fifth place match.

Taylor won that match with a dramatic pin with 13 seconds remaining and then challenged the fourth-place finish for a spot at state. Taylor won that match as well, giving the Lions to representatives in the same weight class.

“What a story that is for two freshmen to go at 152. That's a weight class dominated by junior and seniors. Those guys are still just babies out there,” Samarron said.

At 160 pounds, Adam Roethe picked up wins in his first two matches, including a tough 9-7 overtime decision.

In consolation, Roethe scored a 9-5 win and then a pin in the third-place match to seal his trip to state.

Also at 170, Cameron Schmitz was given the No. 6 seed in the bracket to avoid seeing his teammate, Chay, early on.

Schmitz lost early but scored two convincing wins in consolation and would take fifth place. He then challenged the fourth-place finisher and won that match as well to earn a trip to state.

At 220, Ellis Eaton scored a pair of early wins to advance to the semifinals and nearly toppled the No. 2 seed in the bracket from Oregon City before falling 4-2.

In consolation, Eaton scored a first-round pin and then won the third-place match 1-0.

Noah Bagley also took third place at 285, winning his opening match with a pin and then a tough match in the consolation semifinals 7-6 before winning the third-place showdown with a pin in less than a minute.

“Ellis and Noah are two guys competing really well with guys who can get on the podium, which means they can get on the podium too,” Samarron said.

The state tournament will be this Friday and Saturday at the Memorial Coliseum and the Lions will feature their largest contingent in a few years. Of the 10 wrestlers headed to state, only two are seniors as well, boding very well for the program's future.

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