Crescent Valley High's wrestling team has grown in numbers since last year, and the added depth helped it win the Benton County Championships on Wednesday.
The Raiders took first place in six of the 13 weight classes and scored 206 points in the five-team tournament at Corvallis High.
Two seasons ago, CV finished dead last at the annual event. Last year, the Raiders were second to last. Coach Chad Lamer hopes that winning outright this year is an indication that his Raiders will have a strong season and send several wrestlers to the 5A state championships.
"I hope so. Last year we just sent two to state…” Lamer said. “But, we're still really young, we're mostly freshman and sophomores. We only have three seniors and two or three juniors.”
Two of those upperclassmen are Lamer's sons, Legend and Brawley. They were also the two Raiders who competed at state.
Legend is a sophomore who normally wrestles at 120, but bulked up to 126 for the Benton County event. Brawley, a senior, competes at 132.
Both won their weight classes on Wednesday, and both brothers pointed out an increase in the number of wrestlers on this year’s team.
"We've definitely grown. There's more of us which makes it more competitive," Legend said. "Our kids are a lot more talented. They know more."
Both plan to lead their new team members through example by earning their way back to state.
"I always go as hard as I can," Brawley said. "You always want to be faster, stronger, and tougher than the competition. You have to go with the mindset that you can beat everyone in the room."
Kaimana Wa'a is a second-year Raider wrestler who made his way to the finals in the 285 weight class. Teammate Jensen Taueu was his opponent in that final match.
The two spar virtually every day in practice. Wa'a won the head-to-head match this time with Taueu finishing second.
Both hope to have similar results at upcoming meets.
"That's always the goal, Taueu said.” To finish first and second."
Philomath brought a less experienced team to the meet than last year’s squad. However, the defending-champion Warriors wrestled well enough for second place with 162 points.
Jared Minter (220), Dylan Donnell (152) and James Howell (160) were all winners in the finals.
“We won this competition last year,” Howell said. “This year, we have lots less experience but a similar amount of guys. We had three seniors that were really good last year and scored a lot of points.”
Howell is 9-4 on the season, and all of the wins have come by pin. His victory on Wednesday was no exception, coming by pin in 1 minute, 7 seconds.
“He was gonna take me down, but he wasn’t ready for a switch. I totally got him,” Howell described. “The look on his face was kind of funny when I was coming around the edge. He made a funny sound too when I hit him on top.”
Monroe won gold medals in three weight classes and scored 123.5 points, edging out host Corvallis. The Dragons had wins from Louden Ballard (120), Justin Doyle (145) and Zackery Esplin (182).
The Spartans came in fourth with 122 points and first-place finishes by Isaak Worsch (138) and Christopher Polanco-Rodriguez (195).
Senior Christian Avalos, who finished second at 120, said that CHS is also growing in numbers and should improve from last year.
“A lot of guys from last year got a lot better,” Avalos said. “We’re a small team but we’re gonna fight. We’re gonna fight the whole time.”
Santiam Christian ended the day with 116 points but no first-place finishes.