Each team will send six representatives to the state tournament

Local schools will be well-represented at the OSAA wrestling state tournament this weekend, with Forest Grove and Banks qualifying six wrestlers apiece following strong performances at regionals last weekend.

Banks crowned two regional champions — Collin Purinton at 113 pounds and Travis Thompson at 160 — and had four other wrestlers finish in the top-four at the Class 4A Special District 1 tournament at Gladstone High School, while Forest Grove got four third-place finishes and a pair of fourths at the Class 6A SD1 tourney, which the Vikings hosted on Friday and Saturday.

The state tournament, held at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, will begin with first-round matches at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. Semifinals will start at 9:45 on Saturday morning, with championship matches scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Banks head coach Dan Herb likes his team’s chances this weekend, especially with Purinton, the reigning state champ at 106 pounds, and Thompson, a two-time state placer, both featuring prominently in the state title discussion.

“I think we can be a top-10 team at state. It’s been 10 years since we did that,” Herb said. “With just Collin and Travis last year we finished 11th, so I feel good about our chances of cracking the top-10 with the guys we’re taking to state.”

Banks’ other state qualifiers are Clay Kemper (170 pounds), Evan King (195), Twister McComas (220) and James Cook (285).

Expectations will be highest this weekend for Banks’ two regional champs, who have dominated opponents this season and both enter the Class 4A state tournament seeded second in their weight classes.

Purinton has rolled to a 37-1 record this year wrestling mostly at 120 pounds. His only loss was to Trayton Libolt of Crook County, the No. 1 seed at state and the wrestler that Purinton beat in the 106-pound final last year.

Many in the wrestling community are expecting a rematch in the 113-pound title bout this year, Herb chief among them.

“Collin is expecting to be there, and if he takes care of business he should be in the finals,” Herb said. “He prepares well for matches and I never have to worry about him losing his mental focus. He’ll be ready. He’ll wrestle well this weekend.”

Thompson also has his sights on a state title after finishing fifth at 145 pounds as a freshman and fourth at 152 last year. He brings a 36-2 record into the state tournament, where he is seeded second at 160 pounds behind Cascade’s Spencer Crawford, last year’s state runner-up at 152.

Herb is encouraged following Thompson’s performance at regionals, where he scored an 8-2 decision in the finals against Scappoose’s Johnathan Tardiff, who owned a 33-3 record and was ranked third in the state at 170 pounds before dropping back down to 160.

“I was expecting a super tight match going in,” Herb said. “I thought it would be a coin-flip match, but Travis pretty much dominated. It was probably the best I’ve ever seen him wrestle.”

Kemper (17-5) finished third at regionals and faces a first-round match against Cascade’s Bryndyn Gardner at state. King (16-3) also finished third at regionals, and he will square off against Newport’s Daniel Regan at the state tournament.

McComas (25-15) took fourth place at regionals and faces Klamath Union’s Zachary Cardoza, the No. 4 seed, in the first round at state. Cook (20-10) was also a fourth-place finisher at regionals, and he will meet No. 4 seed Stephen Noonan of Henley in a first-round matchup.

Forest Grove didn’t crown any regional champions last weekend, but the Vikings still qualified half a dozen wrestlers for the Class 6A state tournament.

Christian Guerra (106 pounds), Matthew Johnson (113), Cody Smith (138) and Christian Rincon (285) all finished third in their respective weight classes at last weekend’s regional tournament, and teammates Lucas Higginbotham (106) and Chad Smith (132) added fourth-place finishes to round out the Vikings’ state tourney contingent.

“This was the first time in five years we did not have a finalist, but we (still) qualified six guys,” Forest Grove coach Frank Johnson said.

The Vikings will send four wrestlers with 30-plus wins to the state tournament, starting with Guerra (31-8), who lost in the 106-pound semifinals at regionals, but won two straight matches in the consolation bracket to finish third.

Guerra’s victory in the third-place match came at the expense of Higginbotham (23-12), a but the Forest Grove freshman still qualified for state with his fourth-place finish.

“Lucas is a tireless worker,” Johnson said. “He is relentless in his quest to master the art of wrestling, often staying after practice to work on the fine details of technique that will help him win matches.”

With a top-six finish this weekend, Higginbotham would become Forest Grove’s first-ever freshman placer at the state tournament.

Sophomore Matthew Johnson (31-8) finished one win shy of placing at state last year, and he will have his sights set on a trip to the podium this weekend after knocking off Glencoe’s Max McGee in the third-place match at regionals.

Chad (32-11) and Cody Smith (33-11) will carry gaudy records into the state tournament, where the seniors will be gunning for their first trips to the medal stand, and Rincon (5-3) is coming off a strong showing at regionals.

“After returning home with no medals last year, the guys are hungry to bring home some hardware,” Frank Johnson said. “That’s what makes this the most exciting weekend of the year. The guys who show up and leave it all on the mat usually end up returning home with medals around their neck. We’re hoping some of our guys show up in a big way.”

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