Roseburg scored nearly 550 points at the 2019 Southwest Conference wrestling championships, qualifying 25 wrestlers for the OSAA Class 6A state wrestling championships.
The Tribe matmen hope to meet, or exceed, those numbers this weekend.
Roseburg will have the full complement of 28 entrants when the SWC championships kick off Friday at South Medford High School, including 12 wrestlers who were a part of the Indians’ 2019 state championship team.
“(Advancing) 29 is the goal,” Roseburg coach Steve Lander said. “If we shoot for that, we might get 28. I expect we’ll be in a similar boat this year, and hopefully we can grab a few extra spots where we can.”
Tournament seeds can not be announced until brackets are posted on www.TrackWrestling.com on Friday.
Roseburg returns four district champions in sophomore Nash Singleton (120 pounds), juniors Kahleb Diaz (126) and Rogan Coffman (195) and senior Rourke Martin (182). Seniors Cameron Cross (113), Tristin David (152), Colin Rietmann (160) and Hunter Blix (220) were all finalists last season as well.
Roseburg, the No. 2-ranked team behind Newberg in last week’s Oregon Wrestling Forum 6A rankings, had 543.5 points at last year’s tournament, more than 200 clear of runner-up North Medford (310), which enters the tournament ranked eighth. Grants Pass was third at 280.
Those three appear to have to most talent again coming into this year’s tournament. North Medford has returned four wrestlers to its lineup who have been dealing with injury, and Grants Pass has turned in impressive tournament finishes this season despite competing largely in tournaments with lower-classification schools.
“North Medford is going to have a few kids who weren’t at the dual (against Roseburg last Thursday), so they’re going to look a lot better than they did,” Lander said.
Part of the reason the district does not release tournament seeds until the day of the tournament is to avoid possible “scouting” by other teams and leagues, minimizing the ability for rival schools — for instance, Newberg and Sprague in Roseburg’s case — to move wrestlers around different weight classes while laying out their plan for the state tournament.
Lander doesn’t really believe in doing that, but he gets it.
“Unless you’re at the top of the food chain, my philosophy is that I don’t spend so much time scouting as I do putting that energy into my guys and making sure they’re ready to do,” Lander said. “I’m not really into moving guys around based on what somebody else does. We don’t really play matchups.”
As a result, Blix, for example, will wrestle at his natural weight of 220 in the district tournament after spending most of the season as the Tribe’s No. 1 heavyweight. Junior Rogan Coffman, who received a wildcard entry into last year’s state tournament after placing fourth at 220 pounds at district, will be at his more natural weight of 195.
Roseburg will have a number of underclassmen getting their first cracks at a state tournament berth in freshmen Higen Spani (106), Nolan Ronk (120), Micah Lusby (132), Colton Mignola (138) and heavyweights Grady Hamilton and Emmitt Gibson. Sophomores Cristian Martinez (106), Levi Campbell (126) and Haygen Vangordon (152) will also get their first tastes of a big-pressure tournament.
The top three qualifiers in each weight class automatically advance to the OSAA state championships, scheduled for Feb. 28-29. All fourth-place finishers from Class 6A’s seven districts will be entered into a pool, where wild-card entrants will be selected based on criteria.
Wrestling begins at South Medford at 1 p.m. on Friday.