Sports Zone, Springfield

Colts boys wrestling win 4th straight district title

SPRINGFIELD – The Thurston boys wrestling team earned the Midwestern League title last week, beating out Crater and Eagle Point to clinch its fourth consecutive league championship. The Colts came into the meet as the favorites, but performing up to par as the favorites isn’t easy. Especially considering how deep the top-three teams in the Midwestern League are this season.

“I think we took care of business. I knew Crater was going to be neck and neck with us the entire tournament,” said Mike Simons, Thurston head coach. “Our league was fairly balanced. I think we qualified 14, and I think Crater and Eagle Point qualified 16. We just had more kids contending for top three spots then those other teams do, but this is the strongest our league has been in quite a few years.”

Thurston had seven individual league winners out of the 14 weight classes: Kanoe Kelly (106), Colton Annis (126), Holton Halstead (138), Kolton Malone (145), Braylin Ruchti (152), Sawyer Casarez (170), and Vaun Halstead (195).

Now the Colts look to the state championship this weekend in Portland. Similar to the Midwestern League, Simons believes this will be the most competitive team championship race in a few years.

“This is as balanced heading into the 5A championships as I can remember it being in years,” Simons said. “It is really balanced this year. There’s probably six teams that are all fighting it up for the trophy. The last four or five years it’s been Crescent Valley and then everybody else.”

Crescent Valley has won the Class 5A team trophy the past four seasons, and while Crescent Valley is still contending for its fifth in a row, it’s a much more congested race this time around.

Also different this time is the manner in which the championships are happening. Due to the pandemic, the last couple years of state championships were split into smaller locations. This season it’s business as usual, with all six classes, boys and girls, competing Thursday-Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. 

While it’s business as usual for the coaches, it’ll be a first for many of the athletes. Simons isn’t worried though, he believes his team is as prepared as any for the spectacle of state.

“They’re battle tested. We’ve wrestled in every big tournament here in the state,” he said. “This is just another tournament in a big setting for us coming up, and I think our kids will be ready.”

That’s not to say the team isn’t excited or nervous, but the championships have been the goal all along, and the team is ready for the challenge.

“They’re excited about this. This has been our goal since the start of the season for the boys and the girls, to get to the state championship and be in a spot where we can make a run at winning it. I definitely think we’re a trophy team, somewhere between first and fourth,” Simons said. “Our goal from day one was to get a boys and girls state championship, and that’s still our goal. I think realistically we have an opportunity to do that.”

Podium finishes aren’t a given, nothing is in the sports world. Simons wants his team to enjoy the experience, and show up on the big stage.

“The finals are always awesome. And the team trophy, no matter where you’re at, just to get a trophy at the state championships is a big deal for the kids. Hopefully we’ll be getting a couple of those,” he said.

Also at the Midwestern League championships were the Springfield Millers, who had Diego Medina (285) win a league title. Class 4A Cottage Grove competed in the Special District 2 championships, with Nathan Abrams (285) taking second and Carter Bengtson (132) finishing third.



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