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Roseburg grabs early lead at district tournament

EAGLE POINT ' Roseburg High wrestling coach Steve Lander grimaced when asked to evaluate his team's performance during the opening day of action at the Southern Oregon Conference district wrestling tournament Friday.

Too many losses, Lander said as he stood in the Eagle Point gym. And too many of our guys have been eliminated.

All teams should have it so bad.

The Indians dropped their fair share of matches, all right, but they also steamrolled into the first-day lead with 174 points and advanced 16 wrestlers into the championship semifinals.

Crater and Eagle Point each moved 13 into the semifinal round ' set to begin at 11 a.m. today ' while racking up 149.5 and 133.5 points, respectively.

Grants Pass is a distant fourth with 90.5 points, followed by South Medford (51.5), North Medford (49.5), Klamath Union (43) and Ashland (4).

The Indians sent shock waves through the SOC last winter when they wrested the district title from Crater and Eagle Point for the first time in 25 years.

They came into this weekend regarded as a slight underdog to top-ranked Crater but put themselves in solid position Friday to win it again.

Lander had a tough time admitting as much, but he couldn't argue that all of his top guns are in the championship bracket, including top seeds Trevor Lofstedt (103) and Justin Troxel (275).

(Today's) semifinal round is the big one, Lander said. There's a lot of points to be scored in that round and the finals, and we do have a lot of kids in consolation.

But I don't like losing even one match.

The Indians entered the tourney with the maximum number of entrants ' 28 ' and will bring 23 of them back for today's action.

Lofstedt earned the distinction of the quickest pin Friday as he slammed Klamath Union's Zack Baumgart to his back in just 12 seconds.

Crater, meanwhile, had 25 entrants, and all but one survived to wrestle today. The only casualty was 103-pound Andrew Van Wey, who sprained his ankle during warm-ups and was unable to continue.

We've got 24 guys still going, and every one of them is capable of placing, said Crater coach Greg Haga, whose team is seeking its 11th district title in the past 14 years.

The 24&

189; -point gap between the Indians and Comets could be attributed to byes as much as anything, Haga said. Crater had 16 of them compared to Roseburg's 11.

That's the luck of the draw and probably because we've got more No. — seeds, Haga said. It doesn't really matter, though. Everything's going to be decided (today).

Top seeds Nate Gipson (130), Chase Maloney (135), Jeremy McLaughlin (140) and Clayton Tankersley (145) all rolled into the semifinals, as did No. 2 seeds Jeremy Firestone (112), Ron Lee (152), Brandon Rauls (215) and Tyler Wilkerson (275).

The Comets also got an impressive performance from 171-pound freshman Cody Clark, who moved into the semis by pinning Roseburg's Moses Perez, who is ranked eighth in state.

Clark broke his left ankle in football and got off to a slow start in wrestling but has been on a tear the past couple weeks.

Eagle Point advanced both of its No. — seeds ' Jake McCoy at 112 pounds and Kevin Miers at 171 ' along with defending 171-pound state champion Tyson Nelson.

No. 2 seeds J.P. Sheile (119), Nick Alexander (125), Matt Leonardo (130) and Andrew Larsen (135) also moved into the semifinals for the Eagles.

One of the day's most exciting matches came at heavyweight, where fifth-seeded Eagle Point freshman Tyler Cam eked out a 2-1, double-overtime victory over fourth-seeded South Medford senior Joe Ramirez.

The match was tied 1-1 after regulation and the first overtime, forcing the second extra session in which one wrestler has 30 seconds to escape from the other.

Cam was in the controlling position, and he used all of his 270 pounds to keep hold of Ramirez for the full 30 seconds.

It was tough holding on to that guy for that long, but I did it, a smiling Cam said.

Ramirez nearly wiggled free in the final few seconds but Cam went from a belly-to-back grip to a corner single to maintain control.

The coaches have spent a lot of time with me working on that move, Cam said, and it sure paid off.

The marquee matchup in today's semifinal round will be at 160 pounds, where Roseburg's Nick Shaffer will tangle with Eagle Point's Christian Mannenbach.

Shaffer is ranked third in state and Mannenbach fourth. The winner is likely to draw second-ranked Rob Folsom of North Medford in the finals.

Today's finals are set to start at 6:15 p.m., 30 minutes later than originally scheduled.

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail