WARRENTON The Wrestlin' Warriors of Warrenton will send five athletes to the state wrestling tournament later this week ... probably not the five that head coach Jacoby Marshall had envisioned, but five is good, especially when the Warriors finished last season with just nine healthy wrestlers.
"I feel pretty good about how it went," said Marshall, of Saturday's district championships. The Warriors served as the host for this year's Class 3A Region 1 Tournament.
Warrenton finished fourth in the team standings with 167 points, behind Gervais (272), Rainier (247) and Colton (180.5).
"I would liked to have seen a couple more of our guys go, but that's why we wrestle," he said. "That's the beauty of this. It's not a feel-good' sport. Not everybody goes to state, but our guys wrestled real tough, I'm real proud of them, and we've got one more week for five guys."
The state tournament begins Friday and concludes Saturday at Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
The Warriors had one district champion, one second-place finisher and three third-place wrestlers who will make the trip.
Warrenton's district champion had to defeat his own teammate to win the title, as senior Tanner Middleton got past sparring partner T.J. Morgan in the title bout at 126 pounds, 17-6.
Both Middleton and Morgan will head to state.
It's always a win-win situation when two teammates meet in the finals of a district tournament - although Marshall hinted that Middleton and Morgan may have been doing a little "professional wrestling" in their match.
"It looked more like a ballet in the first round," Marshall said. "It looked like it might have been partially scripted, which I wasn't too pleased about. But that's OK. They made it enjoyable for everybody.
"Having Tanner Middleton win a district championship as a senior is always a plus."
The Warriors had three wrestlers finish third, good enough for a state qualifying spot.
With only four wrestlers in the 106-pound division, the odds were good for Warrenton freshman Rogue Bergerson.
Bergerson had byes in the first and second rounds, lost a quarterfinal match to Iban Gomez of Gervais, then bounced back with an exciting 6-5 decision over Rainier's Emmett Earlywine in the only consolation match at 106.
Trailing 5-4, Bergerson scored a takedown with just seconds remaining, then literally held on for the win.
"Rogue Bergerson did a real good job of getting third place," Marshall said. "He took a little head-butt (from Earlywine) in the last match, battled through some adversity and scored a takedown in the last round to pull it out, and rode real tough for about 30 seconds."
In another third-place match, Warrenton freshman Austin Studer-Smith scored a 10-0 major decision over freshman teammate Cristian Martinez at 113 pounds.
Also qualifying for state with a third-place finish was senior Kyle Lopez, who wrestled four matches at 152 to earn his trip to state.
Lopez had a second-round pin over Colton's Zack Eckert, followed by a 12-4 loss to Corbett's Dax Harlow in the quarterfinals.
Lopez returned in the consolation bracket with a 10-2 decision over Rainier's Yerko Benik, then held off Colton's Nicholas Cantelon 12-11, in one of the most exciting third-place matches of the day.
"I about had an aneurysm in the 152-pound match," Marshall said. "My blood pressure was quite high. Kyle Lopez had a real gut-check moment in his match."
Warrenton had six wrestlers place fourth - Martinez (113); freshman Parker Whitsett (120); freshman Michael Suppa (132); senior Miles Pember (138); sophomore Chris Brecht (145); and sophomore Austin Partridge (220).
Warrior freshman Bradd Lundberg pinned Carlos Lopez of Gervais at the 5:59 mark to take fifth at 160 pounds. Freshman Liam Baker rounded out the Warrenton placers by taking sixth at 132.
With the amount of success from Warrenton's freshman class, the Warriors aren't too far away from becoming a power in the district.
"For the rest of our guys, I'm real excited about for next year, because we only lose two of our wrestlers going to state," Marshall said. "It would have helped if we just had five more guys wrestling. We could have finished third place and maybe even second."
As for the prospects at state, he said, "You never know. We'll get them prepared and give them the best opportunity to be successful at the next level.
"T.J. and Tanner probably have the best opportunity, and I wouldn't be surprised if Kyle Lopez came out and shocked a few people."