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Lions roar to Crater Classic championship

CENTRAL POINT ' The cold snap in Portland last weekend prevented the West Linn High wrestling team from attending the Oregon Classic in Redmond that annually attracts the top wrestling teams in the state.

A hungry bunch of Lions found some stiff competition Saturday at Crater High, however, and they shocked the top-ranked Comets and nine other teams to claim the Crater Classic team title.

West Linn, ranked eighth in the Class 4A state poll, crowned three individual champions and piled up 299.5 points to edge out Crater by six points.

Fourth-ranked Sprague took third with 288.5, followed by defending Class 2A/1A state champion Culver (204), North Medford (147), Thurston (132.5), Woodburn (116), Lebanon (68), Sutherlin (57), North Valley (44) and South Medford (21).

We've been looking forward to this tournament all season, said West Linn coach Doug Samarron, who won an NAIA national championship while competing for Southern Oregon University in 1984. And after we couldn't make it to Redmond last week (for the Oregon Classic) this tournament became even bigger for us.

— It isn't often that anyone comes into this gym and beats Crater. Our guys have reason to be proud.

Matt Kim (119), Alec Zachman (125) and Logan Raivio (215) won individual titles for West Linn, which has posted an 8-1 dual meet record this season, won the Glencoe Invitational and finished fifth at the 32-team Pacific Coast Championships in Vancouver, Wash.

Chase Maloney (152) and Ron Lee (171) took home individual crowns for Crater, and Tyler Weathers (119), Bryson Gutches (135), Colin Brooks (189) and Taylor Wilkerson (275) emerged as runners-up for the Comets.

Gutches, who won a state title two years ago as a freshman and was third at the state meet last season, lost 5-4 to Woodburn upstart Chris Karsseboom.

Gutches continues to compete with his jaw wired shut after breaking it last month at the Clovis Shootout in Fresno, Calif., but Karsseboom's win was nonetheless impressive.

The Woodburn junior failed to place at state last year but wrestled almost nonstop during the off-season. He placed second in freestyle and fifth in Greco Roman at the Cadet national meet last spring.

I had a strong feeling I was going to beat him, said Karsseboom, who ran his season record to 12-0. I went out aggressive, got the lead and just kept coming at him.

Crater coach Greg Haga offered no alibis for his team, even though 130-pound John Bernhardt and 171-pound Cody Clark missed the tournament with injuries. Saturday also marked the third straight weekend the Comets have been on the mats.

I think we're a little worn down but that's to be expected when you wrestle a dual on Thursday and a tournament on Saturday for three straight weeks, Haga said. We still had certain kids wrestle tough and I was really happy with some of our second-line guys.

Maloney downed North Medford's Chris Platt, 3-0, in a battle of two of the state's elite 152-pounders. Two weeks ago, Platt pinned Maloney in the finals of the Rogue Valley Championships.

I got a little more warmed up today and I went out there a lot more focused, said Maloney, who pushed his season record to 20-3 with four victories Saturday. When someone pins you, you don't forget.

Another marquee matchup came at 160, where unbeaten Rob Folsom of North Medford squared off against once-beaten Brett Arand of Thurston.

Folsom, who handed Arand his only previous loss at the Coast Classic on Dec. 13 by a 7-6 verdict, dealt him another defeat Saturday, this time by a 9-6 tally.

I was in better shape this time around, said Folsom, who had played in the state championship football game the week before meeting Arand last month. That guy's tough ' he was a Greco national champion last year ' but I'm more physical and I used that to my advantage.

Folsom, who improved his season record to 22-0, has been spending 15 to 25 minutes grappling with Black Tornado head coach Kacey McNulty each day after practice.

That has helped a ton, Folsom said. It's helped my conditioning and it's helped my knowledge of the sport.

Folsom was named the tournament's most valuable wrestler in the upper weights, while Sprague's Derick Bartlemay (130) earned the same honor in the lower weights.

North Valley crowned one champion in Trey McLean, its heavyweight standout who registered a hard-earned 10-6 victory over Crater's Wilkerson.

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