Despite varsity wrestling rosters on the south side of a dozen athletes, Eastern Oregon’s Riverside and Heppner could be well represented at the state wrestling championships in Portland next week. All that stands in the way first are the regional rounds.
The Class 3A Pirates — who have 11 boys entered in the district meet Saturday, which they’ll be hosting in Boardman — have a couple of near-sure things at the top of their lineup. Lightweights Hans Rockwell, 113 pounds, and Gustavo Madrigal, 106, have just one loss between them over the season. Along with Elijah Conlon at 120 pounds, Riverside’s nastiest wrestlers are all competing on the light end of the spectrum.
“Everybody’s capable of wrestling at state,” Riverside coach Dave Boor said of his 11 boys. “All that matters is getting on a roll at the right time and (as a team) we’re as healthy as we’ve been all year.”
The Pirates qualified nine wrestlers for last year’s state meet and took seventh as a team there.
A class below Riverside, which placed fourth in its district last year, the Heppner Mustangs face a similar situation. With just nine wrestlers donning singlets for their regional meet in Crane on Saturday, chances for a team title are slim. But individually this team is stacked with talent.
The 126-pound Jared Lemmon highlights a trio of Mustangs looking for return trips to the state meet. Lemmon, who placed last year on the state level, has the best shot to do it again along with Treston Maben at 145 pounds and Tim Nelson at 195. Coach Mark Lemmon expects the rest of the supporting cast to help Heppner place in the top three at the 2A/1A regional meet, but schools like host Crane probably have too much depth to overcome.
“Pound for pound, we can beat most anybody,” he said. “The problem is we have just nine guys, but I think our guys are very competitive state-wide.”
Also in Crane this weekend is Irrigon. The Knights’ Andy Aguilera has the best chance for state success at 152 pounds and a few teammates could possibly break into the state qualifiers with inspired runs at the regionals. Irrigon took no wrestlers to state last year.
At the Class 4A level, the Mac-Hi Pioneers start their two-day tournament today in La Grande. Wrestlers Chandler Fortune (126 pounds) and Tavis Hodgen (138 pounds) will try to make it back to the state level for a second straight year and could have some company.
After six Pioneers qualified last season, Mac-Hi could send about that many again this year with other standouts like Brayden Moller (182), Jeffery Jones (138) and Cole Skramstead (113) all having strong campaigns in Milton-Freewater.
Mac-Hi, which finished 11th at the state meet in 2012 will have a hard time repeating that placing unless a few boys do more than just qualify and go deep in their brackets, though.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839.