Oregon class 4A high school wrestling: One more sport with a state champion from the Cowapa League.
For the most part, Tillamook dominated the 4A ranks last year. The Cheesemakers won the District 1/4A meet by 250 points over their nearest competitor, then won the team title at state with 264.5 points, the most scored by any state champion last year.
Seaside will be among the other four Cowapa League teams chasing the Cheesemakers. And the Gulls have just as good a chance as any other team.
“We are returning two state qualifiers, including a fifth place finisher,” says Seaside coach Dan Taylor. “We have at least five returning wrestlers who have realistic goals of qualifying for state.
“We hope to at least double our state qualifiers and have more than one placer,” he said. “Our numbers have improved, including two female athletes. Outside of our top six or seven, we have several promising, but inexperienced athletes.”
The returning state qualifiers are seniors Luke Nelson and Andrew Gastelum.
Gastelum placed third at 120 pounds in the District 1/4A meet, pinning Ernie Preciado of Woodburn in a quarterfinal match, before Tillamook's Quintin Metcalfe scored a fall over Gastelum in the semifinals.
Gastelum pinned two straight in consolation to lock up a spot at state, where he opened with a pin (3:04) against Mazama's Brycen Johnson.
Seaside's top returner is Nelson, who finished second at 220 in the district meet, highlighted by a 7-1 decision over Tillamook's Dawson McKibbin in the semifinals.
Once he took the mat at the state meet in Portland, Nelson continued his winning with a first round, 8-2 decision over Lincoln Clark of La Grande.
Seaside's two opening round victories at state were the first wins for the Gulls in state competition since 2006.
Gastelum was eventually pinned in the quarterfinals but bounced back with one consolation victory, while Nelson had one more meeting with McKibbin, who he defeated 9-1 in the fifth-place match at state.