Steve Lander brought up the word “team” quite a few times when addressing the audience about his 2019 state champion wrestling squad on Wednesday evening at Roseburg High School.
The Indians narrowly won their sixth consecutive OSAA Class 6A championship and 11th title in 13 seasons on Feb. 23 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Roseburg finished with 263 points in the two-day tournament, seven ahead of runner-up Newberg.
“We’ve always tried to emphasize the team, and the importance of everybody,” Lander, the 17th-year head coach, said during a community celebration for the team. “We had multiple weights with two entries, multiple entries where we placed two boys. We had around 60 points earned by our non-placers. We win by seven, so without those guys we don’t win the tournament.”
The Indians qualified 23 wrestlers for the tournament, and 10 of them placed in the top six. Roseburg had no individual champions — the first time that’s happened at state since 2005, according to Lander.
Another interesting number from Lander: Roseburg got 23 wins from its non-placers, 12 coming by fall.
“That’s what we figured all year,” the coach said. “We left a returning state qualifier here, he didn’t even go to district and make the lineup. Every year and the last few years we’ve had real good kids who didn’t make the top two. We’ve always taken pride in our depth and it was very important this year.”
“Our non-placers helped a lot,” said senior Logan Folsom, who was the state runner-up at 170 pounds. “They worked just as hard as us. Coach treats the No. 1 and No. 2 guys the same, he wants everybody to reach their potential. That’s what a lot of them did.”
“We all just kind of put the pieces together,” added senior 285-pounder Mason Labahn. “Everything worked out. We all executed what we needed to do. Everyone went out and did what they could, and we brought home a championship.”
In addition to Folsom, freshman Nash Singleton (113) finished second and led the team in wins for the season with 37.
The Tribe got third-place finishes from sophomore Kahleb Diaz (126), junior Tristin David (145), senior Austin David (152) and sophomore Darian Thacker (160). Sophomore Caleb Jeffers (138) was fourth, juniors Archer Bergeron (138) and Colin Rietmann (152) placed fifth and junior Rourke Martin (182) finished sixth.
Roseburg’s other state competitors included freshmen Carson Dunn (106) and Rhett Martin (120), sophomores Adam Leaton (126), Tyler Estes (195) and Rogan Coffman (220), juniors Cameron Cross (106), Riley Rose (145) and Hunter Blix (220), and seniors Devin Folk (132), Ethan Stoner (170), Owen Vredenburg (182), Hunter Hillard (195) and Labahn.
Folsom felt a turning point in the season came after the Indians lost 32-31 to Newberg in the 6A final of the Oregon Classic in Redmond on Jan. 19. The Oregon Classic is considered the state dual meet championships.
“I’ll remember this year as us kind of starting at a low point,” Folsom said. “We weren’t working as hard as we should’ve been. We always believed we could win state, but after Newberg beat us it fueled more of a fire. It hit us and got us going.”
“After the loss we realized we needed to get in a higher gear,” Labahn said.
With eight state placers scheduled to return, the Indians expect to be in the title hunt next year. Roseburg has won 12 state wrestling crowns in school history, the first coming in 1974 under Ron Hicks.
“We do have a lot more state qualifiers coming back,” Lander said. “That’s good, but we’re always in the building business and always trying to get better. More important than winning or losing is practicing and training and getting better every day. That’s what we value most importantly.”