It’s nearly time to see what the current Indians are made of.
If recent history is any indication — Roseburg has dominated the OSAA Class 6A wrestling tournament for more than a decade — the Tribe will leave Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland late Saturday night with its fifth consecutive team title and 10th crown in 12 seasons.
The Indians qualified 22 wrestlers for the tournament, which begins at 8:30 a.m. Friday. The championship finals are scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Roseburg, which is ranked No. 3 by Oregon Wrestling Forum, has the numbers advantage going in. Top-ranked Newberg qualified 17 wrestlers, No. 2 David Douglas and No. 4 Sprague each advanced 16 and No. 7 North Medford qualified 15.
“I’m really excited and looking forward to this weekend,” said RHS senior Hunter Sparks, the No. 1 seed at 120 pounds. “We’re not going to do anything special. We’ll go out there and wrestle and get bonus points like normal, and that’s what we’ve focused on the entire year. We’re just planning on doing the same thing — pinning and winning.”
“This is it. This is our last weekend of wrestling, and we’ve got to go out with a bang and put all the hard work to good use,” said senior Garrett Russell, who’s seeded No. 3 at 170. “We’re heading up there, and it’s a business trip. It’s not like, hey let’s go and hope we get that fifth state title; we’re going to get that fifth state title.”
The Indians will have six seniors, six juniors, seven sophomores and three freshmen competing in the tournament. Twelve of them are seeded.
“There’s a lot of doubt throughout the state, but I think we’re going to shock a lot of people with how many points we put up,” said senior Brandon Jeffers, the No. 2 seed at 182. “We’re basically taking two varsity teams. It’s not going to come down to one guy, it’ll come down to everyone performing at their best.”
Roseburg’s other seniors in the tourney are Thomas Spence and Shaun Konig at 126, and Terrell Jacks at 195. Jacks is the No. 2 seed and Spence is seeded No. 5.
Junior Austin David (152) and sophomore Colin Rietmann (145) are both No. 3 seeds. Other No. 5 seeds include sophomore Cameron Cross (106), freshman Caleb Jeffers (132) and junior Logan Folsom (160), while sophomores Tristin David (132) and Archer Bergeron (138) are No. 8 seeds.
Also representing the Indians are freshmen Kahleb Diaz (120) and Darian Thacker (145), sophomores Rourke Martin (170), Doran Gillespie (182) and Cayden Gingery (220), and juniors Devin Folk (138), Bryson Diaz (152), Ethan Stoner (160) and Owen Vredenburg (195).
“It’s an interesting mix of kids,” said Roseburg coach Steve Lander. “I think they’re relaxed, yet focused. I’ve been pleased with their effort and energy the last six-seven practices. I expect them to be prepared and wrestle hard, and do the best they can.”
Brandon Jeffers (37-7) leads the team in wins, followed by Sparks (36-5), Austin David (33-9), Russell (33-7) and Jacks (31-7). Jeffers also has the most falls with 25.
Sparks has compiled the most team points with 194, while Russell leads with 117 takedowns.
Sparks, a state champion at 106 as a sophomore, is plenty motivated after losing the title match at 113 last year.
“My goal is to not let the same thing happen this year,” he said. “I’m going into it a little more humble, but with the work me and Tristin (David) have put in I think it’s going to be a fun state tournament. I’ll focus on who I get next ... one match at a time.”
Brandon Jeffers is looking to take down a title after finishing second and third the past two seasons.
“It bites at you a lot,” he said. “It really irritated me, so this year it’s time to get first and leave on a good note.”