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A terrific week concludes with a third-place finish at the Oregon Classic

by: JON HOUSE - Jacob Taylor scored a big win in his match against Oregon City, helping the Lions top the Pioneers.The West Linn wrestling team knocked off longstanding rival Oregon City for the first time in six years last week, moving to 2-0 in league with a nailbiting 37-34 victory.

The Lions then carried that momentum over into the Oregon Classic last weekend, taking third place overall in its best finish since winning the event in 2007.

West Linn's season has already featured some peaks and valleys. Following a poor performance at the Newberg tournament, the Lions took it upon themselves to refocus and up their efforts both physically and mentally.

The adjustment paid off quickly as West Linn went toe-to-toe with the Pioneers, who have been the class of the league in recent seasons, and came away with a huge victory.

The match meet started at 195 pounds where Cam Schmitz picked up an easy major decision, 15-1. Oregon City would follow with a pin at 220 before forfeiting at heavyweight.

West Linn would forfeit at 106 before the Lions got back in the win column.

At 113, Ian Snapp led for the entirety of the match but scored a crucial pin one minute into the third round.

“Winning a dual like that is all about not giving up pins and capitalizing on as many bonus points as you can get,” coach Doug Samarron said.

Oregon City countered with another pin to reclaim a slim lead at 120.

At 126, West Linn's Alex Garcia withstood an early charge against Andrew Moore and used his patience to come away with a pin with just 10 seconds left in the first round, picking up a hugely important victory for the Lions.

At 132, Cam Broberg gave Dennis Podloujnyi a battle and stayed out of a pin in a 9-4 loss as the Lions started to gain the advantage in the match.

West Linn's tenacity showed up again at 138 pounds. Kane Snapp dominated his opponent but appeared as if he would have to settle for a major decision. However, a clutch move late in the final round earned him an important pin, the Lions' second third-round pin of the evening.

“We kind of rolled over a little at Newberg and were the ones getting pinned late in the match. The guys rallied and it made a big difference,” Samarron said.

At 145 pounds, Tim Harman stayed unbeaten on the year with a pin 17 seconds into the final round.

Oregon City tallied another major decision at 152 while Jacob Taylor used a strong third round to cap off a 7-0 win at 160 pounds.

The Lions would clinch the match in a loss at 170 pounds. Oregon City needed two pins to earn a tie but Tyler Self played terrific defense in an 8-1 defeat, staying off his back and helping West Linn pick up the victory.

At the ensuing Oregon Classic, West Linn benefited from the confidence it picked up against Oregon City. The Lions went 5-1 in dual meets, only finishing behind powerhouses Roseburg and Hillsboro.

“I think we clearly showed that we were the third best team there,” Samarron said.

Harman was West Linn's lone champion of the tournament, going 6-0 and picking up his second win of the season against the No. 2 wrestler in the state in his bracket from Barlow.

“He may have to see him twice more this year at districts and state, which is never easy,” Samarron said.

Schmitz was an impressive 5-1, topping the No. 3 wrestler in the state from Canby in the process.

Ian Snapp was also 5-1 at 113 pounds, giving his opponent from Roseburg everything he could handle in his lone loss.

Ellis Eaton was also an impressive 5-1, only losing to a Roseburg opponent.

Taylor and Self each went 4-2 in their matches over the weekend and Noah Bagley went 3-2, turning in a strong performance against the No. 1 wrestler in his class from David Douglas.

Kane Snapp also posted a winning record from the tournament before suffering a neck injury the following day.

Despite West Linn's terrific success in the past week, Samarron is excited about the squad's possibility to improve even further.

The Lions may tinker with the lineup this week with Bagley dropping down to 220 pounds. Three other wrestlers would also drop weight, making West Linn even tougher from 160 up through heavyweight.

“I think that could really make the second half of our lineup unbelievable. Obviously the key is staying healthy, but, with that lineup at regionals, it could be one of our best in a few years,” Samarron said.

West Linn faces a banged up Canby team in a dual meet this week and will compete in the Tigard tournament over the weekend.

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