Pioneers advance seven wrestlers to state

by: JOHN LARIVIERE - Oregon City senior Kyle Sether ties himself in a knot as he rides David Douglas senior Jeramiah Baker in the 126-pound final of last weekends Three Rivers League/Mt. Hood Conference Regional Tournament.In view of their youth, the Oregon City Pioneers came through with an exceptional showing at last weekend’s Three Rivers League/Mt. Hood Conference Regional Wrestling Tournament.

The Pioneers scored 255 points and finished second only to state powerhouse David Douglas (330-1/2) in the tournament team scoring.

And while the Pioneers qualified only seven wrestlers for the upcoming Class 6A State Tournament, they had 13 wrestlers place in the top six and nine of those 13 were underclassmen.

The Pioneers had six wrestlers make the championship finals of the 11-team regional tournament. David Douglas, with five champions and one runner-up, was the only other team that had as many wrestlers in the finals.

“We were a little disappointed after this morning,” Oregon City senior co-captain Kyle Sether said, after winning his finals match at 126. “We had 15 guys alive [for a state berth] this morning, but now we’ve only got seven.

“This doesn’t change our dream of top two or three [in the team scoring] at state. It just makes it a little more difficult to accomplish. All of our guys that are going to state have the potential to place. They’re all going to have perform to their potential and place for us to have a chance to trophy.”

“I know our kids are a little disappointed,” said Oregon City coach Roger Rolen. “But we’re young and we’re inexperienced, and our team members must understand that. If they get spring and summer mat time, doing freestyle and Greco, they’ll get better.”

Rolen added, “I still do believe we have a chance of getting a trophy [at state]. But it’s going to take all seven kids wrestling the way they can. I think we’ll definitely be top five, but it would sure be nice to be top three and bring home a trophy. That’s been our goal.”

Oregon City had only two regional champions, although there were other Oregon City wrestlers that came close.

Oregon City junior Devin Poppen, who placed first at 106 last year, defeated Lake Oswego junior Cahleb Gonzales by 4-2 decision for the title at 113; and Sether, who placed second to David Douglas senior Jeramiah Baker at 120 last year, avenged that lost, defeating Baker 2-0 in this year’s final at 126.

Poppen advanced to his final through three falls. He went ahead of Gonzales 3-2 midway through the first round of their final, scoring on an escape and takedown.

by: JOHN LARIVIERE - Oregon City junior Devin Poppen (right) and Lake Oswego junior Cahleb Gonzales battle in the 113-pound final at last weekends regional tournament.Poppen escaped midway through the second round for a 4-2 lead, and then rode tough through a scoreless third round.

Asked what a second regional title means to him, Poppen said, “This gives me a higher seed at the state tournament and puts mean in a good position to achieve my goal, which is to win a state title.”

Struggling with cramps from cutting down to 128 for the first time this season, Sether’s win over Baker did not come easily.

Sether scored his match’s only points through an early first-round takedown. David Douglas fans were booing him and urging the officials to call stalling as he rode Baker through the entire third round with neither wrestler scoring.

“I knew that one stalling point wouldn’t cost me the match,” Sether said. “It didn’t matter if the crowd liked it or not. I did what I needed to do to win.”

Sether added, “This wasn’t my best match. My legs were cramping up like crazy in both my matches today. I’ll be better hydrated next week [at state] and I’ll be ready to go.”

Sether said that winning the regional crown was very important to him.

“It’s big for me,” he said. “Especially since this was a goal I’ve had all year, to set me up for the number one seed at the state tournament, and continue undefeated in Oregon. This is just one more step.”

Sether advanced to the title bout with Baker through a 3-1 semifinal win over Barlow senior Tim Tsukanov, after pinning two earlier opponents in the first round.

Oregon City seniors Parker Folliard (132) and Michael McCoy (220) and Pioneer juniors Tanner Fischer (170) and Michael Griffin (182) all earned runner-up honors at the regional tournament.

Folliard lost a 7-5 heartbreaker to Gresham senior David Nelson in his finals match at 132. Folliard was leading Nelson 3-2 with 45 seconds remaining in their match when he got taken down to his back.

Nelson was voted the tournament’s “outstanding wrestler” in balloting by coaches.

McCoy dropped a tough one at 220, where he lost a 2-1 decision to Lake Oswego senior Austin Faunce, the state’s top-ranked wrestler at that weight. Faunce gained his winning point when McCoy, while riding Faunce, was dinged a point for stalling 30 seconds into the third period.

Faunce, who got a late start to wrestling after playing for his high school football team, improved his record to 23-0 with his win over McCoy. It was the third time he had beaten McCoy this season.

“There’s a very good chance we’ll meet again [in the final] at state,” Faunce said. “I’m ranked No. 1 and he’s ranked high as well.”

Faunce said of his strategy to beat McCoy: “He’s a thrower. He tries to tie up a lot. I try to stay down and stay out of his ties, and I try to wear him down.”

Fischer fell behind early in his final with West Linn senior Tyler Chay, the top-ranked wrestler in the state at 170.

Chay went up 3-0 in the first round, scoring on a call for an illegal hold and through a late-round takedown.

Fischer escaped late in the second round to cut the gap to 3-1. But Chay escaped midway through the final period for a 4-1 win.

Griffith dropped an 8-3 decision to David Douglas senior Quincy Clarkson in the final at 182. Clarkson was ranked second in the state heading into the tournament.

Other regional placers for the Pioneers included: freshman Ethan Holt (152), junior Zac McMullin (170) and senior Jacob Hagler (285), fourth; sophomore Dennis Podloujnyi (120) and juniors Alex Canchola (138) and Gabe Ellicott (160), fifth; and freshman Larry Budnov (120), sixth.

Hagler qualified for state by finishing in the top four. Holt and McMullin both lost their berths at state by losing in wrestle-backs.

Clackamas didn’t have a champion, but the Cavaliers had four finalists and they qualified six wrestlers for state.

Clackamas sophomores Austin Brittle (106), Johnny Nguyen (120) and Kyle Anderegg (195) earned regional runner-up honors, along with Cavalier junior Brad Pfeifer.

Clackamas senior Tyler Godfrey (182) qualified for state through a third-place finish; Cavalier sophomore Will Greer (106) placed fourth to qualify.

Brittle got pinned in his final with Centennial junior Jorge Fuentes; Nguyen lost 11-2 in his final with West Linn sophomore Ethan Staley; Pfeifer dropped a 14-4 decision in his final with David Douglas junior Elijah Taylor; and Anderegg dropped an 8-3 decision in his final with David Douglas senior Quincy Clarkson. Taylor was ranked No. 1 in the state and Clarkson was ranked second in the state.

Other regional team scores were: West Linn 246-1/2, Centennial 172, Canby 152, Clackamas 139, Gresham 116, Barlow 112-1/2, Reynolds 105, Lake Oswego 99-1/2 and Lakeridge 11.

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