Lions lack depth but have multiple state qualifiers back in the lineup

by: VERN UYETAKE - Tyler Self was a regional champion for the Lions last year and returns with experience, hoping to get on the podium at state for a talented and experience West Linn team. It is a smaller than usual group in the West Linn wrestling room to start the season but despite a lack of depth this year, the Lions still expect their front line to be competitive this year.

West Linn has multiple returning state qualifiers and hopes it can fill out its roster in the next month to make the team a tough match-up in both dual meets and tournaments.

“We don't have a lot of young kids, so it's going to be a matter of staying healthy for us. By mid-January it could be a pretty strong lineup,” coach Doug Samarron said.

As has been the trend in recent years, there is a dearth of lightweights in the program again. West Linn will likely have to forfeit the first two weight classes for the majority of the season but the rest of the lineup is solid with few weaknesses.

Helping the Lions out in some of the lower weight classes will be Ian Snapp, a returning sophomore who went to state last year, along with senior Michael Donovan and Alex Garcia.

All three of those wrestlers figure to compete for the Lions in the 115-120 range.

Kane Snapp will also be a factor close to 120 as will Ethan Staley at 126 or potentially one weight class lower.

Staley has placed at state for the past two seasons and hopes to make another step forward this year. He is starting the wrestling season fully healthy for the first time in three seasons, having suffered broken bones in each of the previous two football seasons.

“It will be nice to see what he can do with a full season. He should be in the hunt,” Samarron said.

Also holding to the form of the past handful of seasons, West Linn is loaded through the middle of its bracket.

Tim Harman returns after finishing second in state in his weight class last season. Harman figures to fill in at either 152 or 147 this year and should be a state title contender once again.

“Tim's probably ranked No. 1 or 2 in the state in his class and I know he wants to wrestle for the title again,” Samarron said.

Pat Handris and Gabriel Alvaredo will give the Lions some depth in the middle of the lineup and, at 160, sophomore Jacob Taylor also returns, having qualified for state as a freshman last year.

Ryan Anderson also returns for the Lions at 170 pounds and could be one of the team's most improved wrestlers this year.

“Ryan's a guy who should be a state qualifier this year. He's put in a lot of time in the room in the offseason,” Samarron said.

Tyler Self, a regional champion and state qualifier last year, will also return at 170.

West Linn is also strong at the top of its lineup. Roland Lester should be a force at 180 pounds and football standout Cam Schmitz, another returning state qualifier, is back at 195.

Ellis Eaton should be one of the top wrestlers in the region at 220 pounds once he fully returns from an elbow injury.

Noah Bagley will man the heavyweight position for the Lions again this year having trimmed down from last season. He was a match away from placing at state last season.

“From about 145 through heavyweight we should be pretty strong,” Samarron said.

West Linn will be tested early and throughout the season this year.

The Lions open up with a tournament at David Douglas, the defending 6A state champions. They will then see the Scotsmen again, along with league rival Clackamas, before taking part in the Rose City Championships Dec. 13-14, featuring some of the top teams on the West Coast.

“We'll start to really know where we're at in a few weeks,” Samarron said.

The league should also be as strong as usual this season with Oregon City, Canby and Clackamas all fielding talented teams.

But the Lions should be right in the mix when it comes to qualifying wrestlers for state and getting them on the podium this year.

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