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Top-ranked Roseburg highlights Classic field

CENTRAL POINT — Crater wrestling coach Greg Haga has no qualms with putting his athletes up against the best. It builds character and gets them primed for late-season runs the Comets have been known for over the past decade.

That said, the Comets will be getting a taste of some of the best wrestling in the state on Saturday when it plays host to the 17th annual Crater Classic. Pigtail matches begin at 9:50, with the championship round expected to begin around 6:30 p.m. — although the finals could be held earlier given that Haga prefers the tournament to run straight through from one round to the next.

Roseburg, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 6A, returns to the area in hopes of defending its Classic crown and brings a wealth of talent to potentially make it happen.

"They're very solid from top to bottom," says Haga of the Indians, who beat Crater 261-172.5 for last year's tourney title. "I don't think they have a hole in their lineup. They should be real tough."

Roseburg is led by 130-pound senior Tyler Lander, son of head coach Steve Lander, and sophomore Seth Thomas (140), juniors Dan Faas (112), Sam Meacham (135) and Dylan Westwang and senior Brandon Galvez (285).

The Comets, ranked No. 3 at the 5A level, will try to answer with a top-heavy lineup led by defending state champion Brock Gutches at 160 pounds.

"Probably our most consistent wrestler has been Brock Gutches," says Haga. "He's wrestled a lot of tough people and a lot of nationally ranked people and looked real strong for us. I know he's excited about some of the competition coming down here."

Other teams scheduled to compete Saturday are Clackamas, Culver, Enterprise, Grants Pass, Lebanon, North Salem, West Linn and Westview. Culver is ranked No. 1 at the 2A level.

"For those other teams coming down, it's real nice because we get to see some 6A schools and others we don't normally wrestle too much," adds Haga.

The Comets also expect to be led by heavyweight Brandon Hesse, who placed fifth at the Reno Tournament of Champions, and state-hopefuls Kenny Fahndrich (171), Logan Brooks (189) and Darrio Mobley (215). All four are ranked among the top four at the 5A level.

"We're solid from 160-up," says Haga, "but there's a little more in the middle you still have to contend with."

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com