Already the toughest Class 4A league in the state for football, the Cowapa League is living up to its reputation as the toughest district at the 4A level for wrestling as well, as Tillamook and Scappoose battled it out for a district title Friday and Saturday at Astoria.
The Cheesemakers and Indians finished first and second, respectively, in last year's state meet, and they're headed that way again, if the Cowapa League meet is any indication.
"Tillamook and Scappoose went 1-2 at state last year, and here we are again," said Astoria coach Jeff Mabry. "Tillamook had 28 guys entered in the tournament and we only had 13, so there's no way to match them in points. We're just happy to get as many guys in as we can."
Tillamook and Scappoose had a combined 21 wrestlers reach the finals Saturday night at the Brick House. Each had six individual champions, and the Cheesemakers walked off with their fourth straight team championship.
The Mooks racked up 476.5 points to top second-place Scappoose (316.5). Yamhill-Carlton (198.5) was a distant third, followed by Astoria (145).
Meanwhile, the North Coast teams managed to squeeze in a few state qualifiers, as well as one district champion.
"Qualifying four was about what I thought we could do, with an outside chance of getting six or seven," said Astoria coach Jeff Mabry. "One of my longshots was Cody Falk at 125, and he made it. I thought Kyle Lucore had a good chance at 103, and he qualified.
"Tim (Clark) and Dustyn (Morrison) were right on the edge, and Cole and Chance (Banta) were my sure things."
Astoria's Cole Banta did not get the satisfaction of wrestling one final match on his home mat, but he was standing on top of the podium at tournament's end.
Cole Banta won the title at 189 pounds, with an injury default victory over Tillamook's Ron Neu in the final.
"I didn't get to wrestle him this year, and it was disappointing last year when I lost to him (in a league dual), so I really wanted to have a rematch this year," Cole Banta said. "I was injured in our dual with Tillamook, so I was really looking forward to meeting him in the final.
"He was legitimately sick, so what can you do? Hopefully I'll see him at the state tournament."
It still didn't take away from an outstanding tournament for the Astoria senior, who posted a second-round pin over Tillamook's Theo Stellflug, then pinned Scappoose wrestler Brixton Apon in 5 minutes, 9 seconds in the semifinals.
"I wrestled the way I wanted to," Cole Banta said. "I got two pins in my two matches, so that made me feel pretty good. I'm hoping to place top three at state. I'd like to win it, but it's an outside chance. I'll have some stiff competition."
Cole Banta's season record is "around 30 wins and two losses," he said, with losses to a wrestler from 5A Crook County and Knappa's John Benthin.
In the league meet, "Cole dominated everybody he wrestled," Mabry said. "There was no real competition for him. Unfortunately he had the forfeit at the end - he really wanted to wrestle and earn that first place legitimately."
Meanwhile, Astoria sophomore (and younger brother) Chance Banta lost a narrow 4-3 decision to Tillamook's Aaron Barichio in the final at 215 pounds.
In last year's district final at 215, Chance Banta lost to Barichio's older brother Adam.
In Saturday's final, Aaron Barichio scored an early takedown, then literally held on to his one-point lead through the final round. Chance Banta was on the verge of scoring when action was halted for a dangerous hold.
"I felt like Chance beat the kid, really," Mabry said. "The kid (Barichio) stalled for two rounds."
Cole Banta had praise for his younger brother, saying, "I thought the other kid could have done more. There could have been a stalling call against him, and the potentially dangerous call kind of aggravated me, but it's up to the official. Chance wrestled hard, and I can't complain with his wrestling."
Astoria will send two other wrestlers to state.
After a first-round bye and a loss to Tillamook's Tanner Greeson, Lucore wrestled back with two byes and a 13-2 major decision over Tyler Wills of Scappoose in a consolation, followed by a pin (4:32) over Seaside's Mike Snook in the third-place match.
Lucore will be joined at state by Falk, Astoria's surprise qualifier at 125. Falk had a quarterfinal pin over Tillamook's Ryan Greeson, lost to eventual champion Jordan Smith of Scappoose in the semifinals, then pinned Yamhill-Carlton's Jon Sieber (4:42) in a consolation, before finishing with a 6-4, overtime decision against Tillamook's Jesse Geinger in the third-place match.
Seaside had two state qualifiers, as Justin Near was runner-up at 125, and Alex Swynenburg took third at 215.
Near had pins over Sieber (5:32) and Astoria's John Randall (1:20), and a 9-2 decision over Geinger before getting pinned in the final by Smith of Scappoose, in 3:14.
Swynenburg had a 9-3 decision over Tillamook's Chris Roehl in the consolation final at 215.
Elsewhere, Astoria's Dustyn Morrison was fourth at 119, Tim Clark place fourth at 160, John Waldeck finished fifth at 171, Javy Sanchez was sixth at 112, and Randall was sixth at 125.
Warriors send fiveGERVAIS - The Warrenton wrestling team will send five wrestlers to the state tournament later this week, including two district champions.
Seniors Beau Torres and Conner Madison will headline the group, which helped the Warriors score 119 points in the team standings at the District 1/3A meet in Gervais Friday and Saturday.
Rainier (296.5 points) won the team title, and will send 11 athletes to state.
Torres ran his season record to 24-5. Competing at 140 pounds, he overcame a 102-degree temperature Friday by pinning Calvin Barnes of Vernonia (2:18) and defeating William Rose of Rainier (14-4) to reach Saturday's semifinal, where he pinned David Rodriguez of Gervais in 3:33.
Torres dominated the title bout as well, scoring a 7-1 decision over Austin Cherry of Neah-Kah-Nie.
Shortly after Torres won his title, Madison was defeating Clatskanie's Asa Meyers in the final at 145 pounds. After byes in the first two rounds, Madison pinned Colton's Forest Ham in the semifinal (2:52) to reach the championship.
Elsewhere, Warrenton junior Tony Nguyen took second at 103 pounds, falling to Rainier's Kelly King in the final. Warrior freshman Tanner Middleton was third at 103, as he pinned Colton's Ben Norgren in overtime to qualify for state.
Also qualifying for a trip to Portland was freshman Miles Pember, who took third at 125.
Loggers fourth at districtCLOVERDALE - Two Knappa wrestlers won district titles and three more qualified for the state meet, in the finals of the District 1/2A tournament Saturday at Nestucca.
The Scio Loggers won the team championship with 237 points, followed by Nestucca (209.5), Central Linn (170.5) and Knappa (166), which received the Sportsmanship Award for the second straight year.
Knappa senior John Benthin - the big favorite to win another state title at heavyweight - pinned Loy Marthaller of Siletz in 1:20 in the title match at 285. Benthin's semifinal match lasted just seven seconds. Logger teammate Rusty Hebert was third at 285, as Hebert won by fall (4:20) over Scio's Dean Yoder in the consolation final.
Knappa had three placers at 285, as Sean Pomeroy took sixth.
Elsewhere, Knappa's Kody White and Aaron Posey were the only wrestlers at 103, with White pinning Posey in 2:22.
At 112, Nestucca's Valery Silva defeated Knappa's Josh Barnes 8-6 in the title bout.
Knappa's Jeremy Lemire wrestled his way to the finals at 130, where he dropped a 16-2 decision to Perrydale's Jordan Moran.
At 160, Knappa's Dallas Oja took third, scoring a clutch 9-8 win over Scio's Cody White in the consolation final.
Logger Cutter Pember was third at 171, as he pinned Scio's Cody Hancock in 1:25.