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Oregon (OSAA) 4A wrestling state championships preview: 'I think it’s going to be quite a tournament for the top three spots'

The 4A Oregon high school wrestling state championships take place Saturday in Turner. Here's a look at what to expect.

The 4A Oregon high school wrestling state championships take place Saturday in Turner. Here's a look at what to expect.

Top seeds (returning champions in italics)

106 Kyle Sieminski, So., Sweet Home

113 Maxam Salvetti, Sr., Molalla

120 Kai Carson, So., La Grande

126 Cohen Schleich, So., Estacada

132 Mauro Michel, Sr., Stayton

138 Eli Howard, Sr., Stayton

145 Braden Carson, Sr., La Grande

152 Ruben Hernandez, Sr., Ontario

160 Ethan Spencer, Jr., Sweet Home

170 Emmett Henderson, Sr., Junction City

182 Lance VanHoose, Sr., Cascade

195 Miguel Velazquez, Sr., Marshfield

220 Tanner Wells, Sr., McLoughlin/Weston-McEwen

285 Jaden Martin, Sr., Baker/Powder Valley

Most state qualifiers

1, Tillamook 19. 2, La Grande 18. 3, Sweet Home 17. 4, (tie) Baker/Powder Valley and Mazama 14. 6, Banks 12. 7, Estacada 11. 8, (tie) Henley, Hidden Valley and Madras 9. 11, Elmira and Philomath 8.

What to watch

3-team battle royale on tap for top honors

Sweet Home has two top seeds and 17 qualifiers ready to defend the OWA state title the Huskies won in June. La Grande (2020 champion) also has two No. 1 seeds and 18 wrestlers ready to wrest the title away. 

Tillamook (2019 champion) doesn’t have a top-two seed but does have the most wrestlers in the field, bringing 19 wrestlers across the Coast Range to Cascade High in Turner.

Any one of those three heavyweight programs could take home the blue trophy come Saturday night. 

“I think it’s going to be quite a tournament for the top three spots,” Huskies coach Steve Thorpe said. “We are just focusing on wrestling the first match in front of us and not worrying about what other people are doing. It’s definitely going to be a tough tournament. We’ll see where we end up when it’s over.”

If chalk holds headed to the finals, it could come down to a couple of projected 1-vs-2 matchups to decide the title: Sieminski vs. La Grande sophomore Mason Wolcott at 106, and Kai Carson vs. Sweet Home senior Kyle Watkins at 120.

In addition, the Huskies have Kaden Zajic as a No. 2 seed at 152 and Colby Gazeley at 220, while the Tigers have Joshua Collins at 138 and Wyatt Livingston at 170.

Stayton’s Michel looking to become 4-time champion

Michel has a chance to join 41 other Oregon wrestlers who have won four state championships during their career and the first to do so wearing a Stayton singlet.

Michel, who transferred from Cascade to Stayton following his sophomore season, enters the state meet 41-0 this season and has won 114 consecutive matches.

He is 156-4 for his career, with his last loss coming in the Reser’s Tournament of Champions final as a freshman at Cascade, when Crescent Valley’s Gabe Whisenhunt (an Oregon State signee and also going for a four-peat this weekend) pinned him in the first round. 

2 top seeds look to take final step atop podium

A couple of top seeds hope to move up from runner-up finishes last season to secure their first championship this weekend. 

Howard lost to Braden Carson in the 138 final as a junior. Carson moved up to 145 this winter, allowing Howard to earn the top seed.

Martin lost to Junction City senior Bryer Moore in June’s 285 final. He earned the top seed this weekend, but the other side of the bracket features Hidden Valley senior Christopher Woods and Estacada senior Devin Gotchall, who both placed at state in the spring.