6A wrestling — The Tigers top North Salem 48-21 to remain unbeaten in regional dual meets and will face the undefeated Grizzlies Thursday

For some time, a path has been laid before the Newberg High School wrestling team leading to a potential season-ending clash of unbeatens versus rival McMinnville.

Without looking too far ahead, the Tigers have continued to notch the necessary victories over regional opponents to preserve the possibility of a showdown.

But after handling North Salem a 48-21 loss Jan. 30, Newberg can finally set its sights on the hated Grizzlies.

“It will be exciting over there, I’m sure,” head coach Neil Russo said. “They always have a raucous crowd. They’re very good. It will be an interesting matchup. It will be a lot about matchups and who’s where.”by: SETH GORDON - Quick reversal - Newberg junior Matthew McCarthy was trailing 7-2 in his 145-pound match versus North Salem on Jan. 30 when he secured a pin 52 seconds into the second round. His win pushed Newberg's lead to 24-9 and the Tigers rolled to a 48-21 victory in the match.

The Tigers celebrated senior night against North Salem, with several seniors earning key victories.

The Vikings forfeited at 106 and 113 pounds to spot Newberg 12 points, but won the next three matches by decision to make it 12-9.

Justen McConville was trailing 5-2 in the first round of his match at 138 pounds, but turned the momentum of the entire match around by securing a pin in 1:29.

Junior Matt McCarthy had a similar about face, pinning his opponent 52 seconds into the second round despite trailing 7-2.

“That’s big,” Russo said of the falls. “The matches we won prior to that, I don’t think we worked particularly hard, but we didn’t give up bonus points in any of them.”

North Salem won four more matches, but again all were by decision and Newberg cruised to victory thanks to a forfeit at 195 and falls from Zane Burgess at 160, Will Fox at 182, Evan Smith at 220 and Dakota Church at heavyweight.

“It was nice for those seniors to go out with a win,” Russo said. “That’s another team that beat us in a dual meet last year, so that’s a big deal.”

The Tigers mixed up their lineup Saturday at Gresham’s dual-meet tournament, emerging with a 2-1 record.

Newberg opened with a 39-24 loss to Aloha that was closer than the score indicates. The Tigers did get wins from Aerie Baxter, Patrick Boulanger, Thomas Meyers, Colin Hyatt and Burgess, but trailing 30-24 entering the final two bouts, lost both for the first time this season.

Russo’s squad got another crack at North Salem in its second match, performing even better in a 53-19 victory that saw Baxter, Colvin Roseaur, Boulanger, Brandon Harper, McCarthy, Jack Kerwin, Burgess, Fox, Chase Pothier and Dallas O’Bryan earn victories. Baxter’s win over Jordan Short, who did not compete in the preceding dual meet, will help Baxter greatly in terms of regional seeding as both entered the match unbeaten against regional foes.

The Tigers closed out with a 51-27 win over future conference opponent Sherwood, getting victories from Baxter, Boulanger, Thomas Meyers, McConville, McCarthy, Burgess, Fox, Church and Smith.

Fittingly, Newberg will have a chance to avenge a fourth loss from 2013 on Thursday versus McMinnville, which, according to Russo, has some superstars scattered throughout its lineup.

“They are a very solid dual meet team and we are going to have to beat some guys that are a little bit better than we are (on paper anyway),” Russo said. “We are looking forward to it.”

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