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The Bears lost 4 state wrestlers from last season, including 2 state champs. One might think that this is a rebuilding year, but the Bears do have some talented returning wrestlers. Connell and Othello will probably be the dominant teams once again this year, but the Bears aren't just going to roll over either.
At the lightweights the Bears will have Brandon Ashley, Ryan Corke, Jerry Haug and a few freshman that could make an impact. Ashley is capable of bringing home a state championship this year. He won 28 matches in both his freshman and sophomore seasons and is a two time district champion. This summer he took first at the Reno World of Wrestling Championships. This could be the year that we see Brandon in the finals at the Dome. Ryan Corke has a good shot at making it to the Dome this year. After placing 6th at regionals last season, Ryan could make that next step and advance to the state tournament this year. He is capable of pulling off upsets as we saw in the post-season last year. Opponents better not underestimate him this year! Jerry Haug had a nice sophomore season winning 17 matches and he should be a fun wrestler to watch this year. With the experience he gained last season, Jerry could be challenging for a Dome reservation this year.
At the middleweigths, Junior Gonzalez will be the big gun. I wouldn't be surprised to see Junior in the finals this year as well. Junior placed 8th as a freshman and 7th last season. He has a lot of work to do to become one of the top wrestlers in the state, but he is capable of beating nearly anyone when he is prepared for battle. The return of Tony Chapin would help the team tremendously. Chapin recorded 17 pins his freshman season and injuries kept him out of wrestling last season. Tony lost a lot of mat time last year, but he has the potential to be very good. Ryan Burns showed great improvement last season and this could be the year that he puts it all together. A state trip is not out of the question for Ryan this year. The Bears will also need Bryce Livesey to step it up this year. Bryce has shown some potential in the past two years and could mature into a fine wrestler this year.
The Bears strength could be in their heavier weights. Ryan Phipps, Justin Rolland, Hector Gonzalez and Ross McDorman all could compete for a state birth come February. Throw in senior Justin Mack and the Bears will have a load of experience from 152 on up. Ryan Phipps has the potential to beat just about anybody he wrestles, he just needs to have the confidence that he can. I look forward to seeing him wrestle this year. Justin Rolland showed his potential in a district match with Connell's Juventino Orozco. He recorded 2 takedowns and trailed by only 4 points going into the third round against the eventual state champ. Justin also has a tremendous pinning ability. Justin is not far from a trip to state. Hector Gonzalez also made a trip to regionals last season and could make that next step to state with some hard work this year. Hector has only wrestled 29 career highschool matches, but what he lacks in experience, he makes up for with determination. Ross McDorman came within a point of making it to state last season. A 2-1 loss in the go or stay match at regionals was the difference. I don't think that is going to happen to Ross this year and a state medal could also be waiting for him in Tacoma. Ross is a heavyweight who actually knows how to wrestle. Look for him to dominate lesser wrestlers this year.
Rebuilding year??? The Bears have the potential to send 6 to10 wrestlers to state this year. I have been hearing some good things about incoming freshman and some sophomore's who are returning after taking a year off. The Bears may not be rebuilding as much as you think. They may even be able to put a scare or two into the top dogs, Connell and Othello. This should be another interesting year of Bears Wrestling. Gentelmen, Start Your Engines!!!