When the Mid-Willamette Conference gathers for its district wrestling championships this weekend at Crescent Valley High School, the competition will feature three of the top four teams in the state at the 5A classification.
Crescent Valley is ranked No. 2 in the state in the latest rankings, with Dallas ranked third and Lebanon ranked fourth.
“It’s going to be tough,” said Lebanon head coach Michael Cox. “We’re really going to have to wrestle really good to finish in the top two.”
The Warriors enter the meet after an extremely successful regular season. The team was undefeated in dual meets until losing to rival Dallas during the last week of the season.
“We’ve had a really good year. I think we’re 17 and 1 (in duals). We had a chance to beat Dallas there as well. Dallas is just really tough,” Cox said. “We beat CV when they were ranked number two in the state. Beat Crater when they were ranked four, beat Thurston when they were ranked four.”
The success was not a surprise to Cox, who knew he had several strong wrestlers returning and would receive a boost from some talented freshman. The squad could have been even tougher, but was without Landon Kisling for the entire season after he suffered a shoulder injury playing football last fall.
Kisling would have entered the season as the top 5A wrestler in his weight class.
“That’s a big hole,” Cox said.
The Warriors have top contenders at several weight classes. Wyatt Richardson will be one of the top seeds at 126 pounds.
“He’s wrestling really well right now,” Cox said, adding that Richardson has recently notched wins over a couple of his rivals.
Chase Miller could be a top seed at 160 pounds, depending upon how Dallas sets its lineup.
Lane Blisseck will likely be the second seed at 182 pounds, as will Keith Brown at 220 pounds. Austin Dalton is expected to be seeded either second or third at 132 pounds.
Blisseck won a district title last season at 170, defeating Dallas’ Jared Coxen in the final. He thinks it is likely that they will meet again this year, although Coxen competed at 170 pounds during last week’s dual.
“That will be a close one again,” Blisseck said.
Brown said this has been his best season as a wrestler and he is ready for the district tournament to begin.
“I feel really good. I feel healthy, I’m in good shape and I’m ready to go,” Brown said.