When it comes to Mid-Willamette Conference wrestling, it’s Dallas High and everyone else.
The Dragons, who finished second behind Crater at last February’s 5A state championships, have captured seven of the last eight district titles. Dallas wrestled top-ranked Roseburg, the reigning 6A champion, to a 33-33 decision earlier this month. The Indians were awarded a narrow victory based on tiebreaker criteria.
Despite losing 160-pound state champion Tanner Earhart to graduation, Dallas is the overwhelming favorite to notch another district title this winter.
“Dallas is untouchable, I think,” Lebanon coach Michael Cox said. Two years ago, the Warriors held off the Dragons to claim their first district championship since 1993.
“They are deep at every weight and tougher than nails. We’re all trying to get first, but second is what we’re really fighting for.”
The Warriors were the runners-up at last year’s MWC championships while South Albany took third. Both expect to remain contenders while Crescent Valley, Corvallis, Woodburn and Silverton have all improved from a season ago.
CV, which is coming off a 14th-place state finish, could be one of 5A’s most improved squads.
A season ago, South defeated Lebanon in a MWC dual and placed third at the district meet.
Warriors teammates Rian Howard (113) and Chase Miller (152) topped their respective brackets at last weekend’s Rose City Championships. Howard, a sophomore, also won the 113 title at the Perry Burlison Classic.
Miller placed fifth at state as a freshman and missed the 2016-17 season after suffering a knee injury while playing football.
“He has picked up right where he left off,” Cox said. “He is a stud and is not afraid of anybody.”
Fellow returnees Wyatt Richardson, Cody Kleint, Landon Kisling, Marick Best, Joseph Blisseck and Caleb Wynn were all state participants last year. Wynn is out with a knee injury but could return by the district meet.
Freshman 195-pounder Keith Brown scored a signature win over North Marion’s Matt Carillo during the Cascade Duals. Carillo was 4A’s fourth-ranked 182-pounder in the latest Oregon Wrestling Forum ratings.
“Keith is a big, tough freshman,” Cox said. “He’s 6-foot-1 and every bit of 195. He looks like he’s 19 but he’s only 14.”
In Hillsoboro on Dec. 16, Chase Miller won the 152-pound individual title as the Lebanon wrestling team placed 17th out of 19 teams with 85 points at the Liberty Invitational on Saturday.