Lions close to fielding their optimal lineup as league starts tonight

by: TRACIE KRELLWITZ - Jacob Taylor won his match in West Linn's dual against Barlow and was also just one match away from placing at the Pac Coast Championships. The West Linn wrestling team is approaching crunch time this season. Individuals are getting ready to potentially drop a weight class and, as league meets begin this week, there is little down time between now and regionals in February.

The Lions are slightly banged up right now but, with a full lineup and everyone slotted into his ideal spot, coach Doug Samarron believes it could be the team's most formidable front line in a number of years.

West Linn is coming off a solid showing at the Pac Coast Championships in Washington over the break. The Lions had a few unfortunate breaks but, with only 10 varsity wrestlers in the tournament, the team still had some strong showings.

Tim Harman continued to roll at 152 pounds. Harman stayed unbeaten on the year, going 5-0 at the tournament and won his bracket.

In the finals, Harman knocked off a wrestler who took third in state at 138 pounds last season in Washington.

“It's some of the toughest competition he's seen to date and the guy he saw in the finals was a comparable kid,” Samarron said.

At heavyweight, Ellis Eaton put together another terrific tournament, rolling into the semifinals before squaring off with the eventual champion from Roosevelt who had a significant size advantage.

Eaton would then rally in the third-place match and knocked off a strong competitor from Canby who he will likely see at least two more times this season.

Noah Bagley took seventh for the Lions at heavyweight and may make the drop to 220 pounds in the coming weeks.

At 195 pounds, Cam Schmitz was up 4-3 in the third round of an early match before suffering a high ankle sprain. Schmitz would have to withdraw from the tournament and the opponent he was beating would go on to win the weight class.

“We were out of injury time and we think Cam was well on his way to winning that match,” Samarron said.

Ian Snapp dropped an early match but was making up ground in consolation before an elbow to the nose would eventually force him to withdraw as well.

Four other West Linn wrestlers finished just one match away from placing in Kane Snapp, Roland Lester, Tyler Self and Jacob Taylor.

“It was a little bittersweet and, as a coach, we set some goals in practice to get us ready for what's next,” Samarron said.

Also over the break, West Linn hammered Barlow in a dual meet 63-12. The Lions only lost the first two weight classes and racked up 22 bonus points.

The Lions will now gear up for the start of league meets which open tonight (Thursday) at home against Lakeridge.

West Linn will wrestle in the Newberg Tournament this weekend and will then take on rival Oregon City next week on the road.

By the Oregon Classic the following weekend, Samarron hopes that he will be fielding his optimal lineup.

“I think we're going to be a very good dual meet team. We'll only have one hole at 106 and the only thing I'm really worried about is our depth. We just have to keep everyone healthy,” Samarron said.

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