REEDSPORT — There is no shortage of confidence in the Reedsport mat room.
With a group of wrestlers who competed at state returning, including a pair of second-place finishers, the Brave have high hopes for what this season can bring.
“We’re in a really good spot and it should be an awesome year for us,” said head wrestling coach Bo Hampton. “We should be able to bring a state trophy this year.”
With trophies awarded to the top four teams in state, the Brave are looking to better last year’s eighth-place finish in the 1A/2A classification.
Leading the way for Reedsport are juniors Eli Carson and Christian Solomon. As sophomores Carson and Solomon both took second place in their respective weight classes. For Carson, who wrestled at 126 pounds and will be in the same weight class this season, he is looking to build on the success of last season.
“I definitely feel like it prepared me for this year. And I feel like I’m definitely ready to go out there this year,” he said. “I’m looking for battles. Full rounds, good matches and just wrestling hard. Really, that’s all I want to focus on, my persistence.”
For Solomon, a new challenge awaits him as he moves from the 113-pound weight class to 132.
“I like it because I’ve gotten a lot bigger. I’ve gained like 30 pounds. It’s nice, I’m not worried about it. As long as I work hard I should be fine,” said Solomon. While his weight has changed, the goal remains the same.
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“Individually I really want to win state because if I don’t — well, that’s all I’m going to be content with is winning. I don’t want to get second again.”
Sophomores Kyren Johnson and Miguel Velazquez are also back this season with state championship experience under their belts. Hampton also believes that sophomore Aaron Solomon and senior Javier Analco, wrestling for the first time, have the chance to make deep runs at both the state and district tournament.
Yesenia Velazquez, now a junior, is one of the top girls in the state and qualified for the boys state tournament as a freshman. She was one of several members of the team with successful summers in the sport.
With high-caliber wrestlers across the lineup in varying weight classes, Hampton sees it as a big help for the team as a whole.
“It’s awesome. It’s incredible. It makes our room better, too. I tell kids, you’re having a hard time but the kid that is beating you is a state placer. You can’t beat that,” he said.
And while the team has high hopes for the end of the season, Reedsport has to first go through the district meet. The Brave got second at the district meet last season while Glide took first. Glide went on to get second in state while other league foes Lowell and Central Linn finished third and sixth respectively.
“It’s a tough league. Last year going into state we had four of the top-eight teams in the state were in our league and it looks like it’s going to be like that again this year,” said Hampton who enjoys the level of competition but also sees its downside. “It makes it hard for us because we beat each other up and we’ll have a kid that is ranked high in state that just can’t get out of our league… It’s good and bad with this.”
The Brave will start the season at the Willie Wilkinson Memorial in Glide on Dec. 7, a meet in Sweet Home on Dec. 10 before wrestling in North Bend at the Coast Classic on Dec. 12 and 13. The first home meet of the season will be the Reedsport Invitational on Jan. 4.