The Lions think they can win it all in the 2022-23 season.
The West Linn wrestling team has a chance.
The Lions, on the cusp of the 2022-23 Three Rivers League season, have a chance to win the TRL and then — they hope — make a run at a top finish in the Class 6A state tournament.
“I think we are the favorite on talent, but we are lacking numbers,” said West Linn coach Kevin Keeney, who takes the helm of the Lions’ program this year after the retirement of longtime coach Doug Samarron. The Lions took second at last year’s TRL district meet and third at state.
That said, West Linn’s front-line talent is deep, strong and battle-tested, a group led by the team’s six returning TRL district champions — junior Henry Dillingham (he won the TRL crown at 126 pounds last year and finished third at the state tournament) at 145, junior Charles Spinning (1st in the TRL at 138 and second at state) at 145, senior Logan Owens (1st in the TRL at 145 and fifth at state) at 160, senior Justin Rademacher (1st in the TRL at 170 and second at state) at 182, senior Ben Winjum (1st in the TRL at 182 and fourth at state) at 195, and senior Earl Ingle (1st in the TRL at 195 and fourth at state) at 220.
And at 152, the Lions feature senior Destiny Rodriguez, a three-time girls state champion who’s ranked No. 1 in the country.
Here’s what Keeney had to say about his front-line returners.
• Rodriguez is “tough as nails (and brings) relentless pressure.”
• Rademacher, a three-time state placer and the 11th-ranked wrestler in the country, has “super strong defense on his feet.”
• Spinning brings “a burning desire to be the best.”
• Dillingham has the “ability to pin you from a variety of positions.”
• Winjum is “just calm, cool and collected at all times.”
• Ingle, a two-time state placer, is “a hammer. He is no fun for anyone to wrestle.”
• Owens “is very hard to score on.”
There’s more proven talent back, too, including: sophomore Tripp Moussavi (2nd in the TRL at 106) at 126; sophomore Lucas Gray (3rd in the TRL at 145) at 160; sophomore William Ingle (3rd in the TRL at 170) at 170; senior Donathan Lewis (3rd in the TRL at 182) at 182; junior Gus Donnerberg (4th in the TRL at 195) at 220; and senior Liam Armstrong (2nd in the TRL at 220) at 220.
The Lions also picked up senior Riis Hinrichs — a transfer from Lake Oswego — at 138; he was the TRL runner-up at 138 last year and a two-time state qualifier.
That said, there are challenges as always in the Three Rivers League and Keeney knows it.
“I think it will come down to West Linn, Tigard and Tualatin because all three have strong youth programs that feed into their (high school) programs,” Keeney said.
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