NORTH BEND — The seedings for North Bend’s wrestling team for this week's Midwestern League district tournament shook out just the way coach Garrett Caldwell expected.
It was a year of development and experience-building for the Bulldogs, and as such they didn’t have any top seeds in the quality Midwestern League. But there are still some possibilities for state qualifications.
“Most of our guys are in the fourth, fifth, sixth range,” Caldwell said.
Many of North Bend’s wrestlers haven’t competed in a district tournament, be they freshmen or first-year guys.
This means this year’s district tournament, Friday and Saturday at Ashland High School, is an opportunity to learn, to participate in postseason wrestling and the pressure and urgency that comes with it.
“One thing I tell my guys is that everything up until districts is kinda like practice,” Caldwell said. “You’re getting better every match and every week and you just have to treat districts like it’s a whole new slate. Just because you lost to a guy doesn’t mean you’ll lose to him again. You gotta be ready to wrestle.”
Ethan Ingram (20-11), a sophomore at 120 pounds, is seeded fourth in his bracket and is one of the higher seeded Bulldogs entering the district tourney.
Junior Gabe Johnston (21-8) is seeded sixth at 126 pounds in a rather tough bracket, according to Caldwell, but has a real shot at qualifying — the top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to the Class 5A tournament.
“Although he’s got a tough bracket at 126, I think he has a pretty good shot,” Caldwell said. “I think Liam Buskerud has a good shot. Cutter Woodworth has a shot. Anthony Derrick, I think he’s got a pretty good shot. I think all the guys who got seeded are guys to watch for.”
Buskerud, a sophomore at 138 pounds with a 15-7 record, is seeded fourth.
Senior Brycen Lofthouse is eighth at 145, Derrick, a junior, is sixth at 182 and Woodworth (21-11), a sophomore is fifth.
“I think getting those seeds will give our guys some confidence and hopefully won’t give them any pressure,” Caldwell said. “But I think the most important thing is to just get them mentally prepared and wrestle. I think seeds only go so far. It really only means placing (in the bracket). I think it worked out good for us.”
Unseeded are a number of North Bend wrestlers, including Divenson Willis at 220, Sam Cisneros, who has wrestled at 220 and 285, and 113-pound freshman Gabe Eberhardt.
To Caldwell, the seedings are reasonable and to be expected.
However, Caldwell and North Bend don’t have a great idea of the competition at the tournament, as North Bend hasn’t seen a handful of teams included.
North Bend didn’t get to see Churchill, as it backed out of its three-way dual last month, and hasn’t seen Eagle Point at all, in dual form or at a tournament.
This leaves some doubt as to North Bend’s individuals’ abilities to qualify for the state tournament at Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
That, though, doesn’t discourage Caldwell.
“I think it shook out pretty well,” Caldwell said. “Crater’s got a lot of one and two seeds. Thurston’s pretty tough, they got some one and two seeds as well. Eagle Point’s always been tough in the past, but we haven’t seen them much, and they have some higher seeds as well. I think it played out pretty well.”