Cleveland leads Scappoose to 14th
Quincy Cleveland didn't have the high Class 5A tournament seed or the distinction of being a district champion like a couple of his Scappoose wrestling teammates.
But the senior 220-pounder might just be the poster child for the Indian program moving forward.
Unseeded going into the state tourney at Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 22 and 23, Cleveland reached the semifinals and finished fourth in his weight class. He was the highest state placer of nine Indian state qualifiers.
"We're super excited for him," Scappoose coach Nick Byrd said. "He's a hard worker in our (practice) room. Over the last few years, he's done a great job of getting after it. I'm excited to see him end on a positive note like that. We knew he could do some pretty good things for us if he wrestled well."
A big, tough athletic kid by nature, Cleveland was molded both by his own work ethic and the Scappoose coaching staff into a state podium finisher. He's a fitting example of what the right kind of toil and tutelage can do.
"From where he started as a sophomore to where he is now is pretty remarkable," Byrd said. "It makes it easy for some of those kids who might be struggling at a younger age to see the light at the end of the tunnel and if they keep pushing through and persevere they can have some success at the state level. Any time you're a great athlete, you're going to have the opportunity to do well. But he was able to become a great wrestler, too."
Scappoose ended up 14th in the 5A standings with 50 points, just behind Northwest Oregon Conference foe Milwaukie, which placed third with 64 points. Some of the Indians' matches ended in overtime defeat. In others, Scappoose's grapplers grabbed the lead only to let it slip away. The top-10 finish Scappoose pursues every season was within reach had a few of those toss-up matches swung the Indians' way.
Sophomore 285-pound Cutter Sandstrom finished fifth in the heavyweight bracket, closing out a confidence-building season in which he proved himself as one of the best underclassmen at the 5A level.
"Cutter has really come a long way this year," Byrd said. "He started out the season on a bit of a rough path, but he was wrestling the toughest kids at every level week in and week out. That experience he has in high-level matches is really starting to pay off."
Of the nine state qualifiers, eight won at least one match at the state tournament.
AJ DeGrande (113 pounds) and Colton Frates (132) were the only other Indians to reach the quarterfinals, but almost every Scappoose entrant kept his season afloat with triumphs in the consolation bracket.
Ashton Kauffman (138) and Trevor Jackson (152) won two matches apiece in the consolation round while Riyle Kauffman (182) and Jerico Archer (285) each won one match.
"At the state tournament, sometimes it's tough for people to recover from a loss early on," Byrd said. "It shows a lot of grit and toughness to bounce back and win the next match whether you lose in the first round, quarters or the semis. Those kids see their goals kind of go out the window for a second, so righting the ship and getting back to competing can be tough. But I think our kids did a great job of doing that, responded well and competed hard throughout the entire tournament."
Byrd said that ability to rebound will be "paramount" to Scappoose's success next season. Eight of the Indian state qualifiers are scheduled to return in 2019-20. A couple of other Indians barely missed going to the state meet, and Byrd said Scappoose's incoming eighth grade class is "tough."
Next year is a long way away, and a lot of things can happen between next winter, but Byrd said he's enthused about what the future holds.
"We have kids that can compete, a lot of tough kids and a lot of great kids in our program right now," Byrd said. "I'm excited to see if they can put it together. Our goals are always to be in the top 10 as a team and have a shot to take home a trophy at the state tournament. Next year will be no different. It'll be a fun group to coach, that's for sure."