Ben Hernandez going for pin in wrestling
Ben Hernandez tries for a pin against an opponent at the recent Benton County Championships. This season’s state wrestling tournament will be held at Cascade High. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

For the second straight season, Philomath High’s state qualifiers will not compete for individual and team titles at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Instead, a tournament specific to Class 4A will be staged again at Cascade High, a school that should be familiar to Warriors’ fans as a member of the conference/district.

The state wrestling sites were finalized through an Oregon School Activities Association executive board decision related to Veterans Memorial Coliseum enforcing COVID-19 restrictions for participants and fans.

The other state tournaments include 6A at Sandy, 5A at Ridgeview, 3A at La Pine and 2A/1A and all-class girls at Culver.

Losing the large, single venue such as the coliseum with the state’s eyes on the best wrestlers in Oregon doesn’t seem like it would be a very popular decision. I mean, we’re still in the midst of a pandemic so it’s a result of that neverending issue, but maybe I’m wrong and folks enjoy the more intimate setting of a single-class tournament. (Personally, I’d prefer the electric atmosphere created through a large venue with top wrestlers from all classes).

Besides the venue change, the tournaments will also be limited to a single day. The 4A tournament will be Saturday, Feb. 26. The all-class girls state tournament is scheduled for Feb. 24.

A change in National Federation of State High School Associations rules last year permits wrestlers to compete in a sixth match in one day, as long as it’s part of a qualifying or postseason tournament.

The state wrestling tournament has been held at Veterans Memorial Coliseum since 2008. From 2005 to 2007, the tournament was staged at the State Fairgrounds Pavilion in Salem.

Last season’s culminating week championship events — not seen as official by the OSAA — was at Cascade with a pretty good showing by Philomath (three state champions, fourth-place finish as a team).

“We kind of got a preview to this, a prequel,” Oregon Athletic Coaches Association wrestling representative J.D. Alley said in an story. “In terms of running the tournaments smoothly with separate tournament directors, we did that last year without the help of the OSAA. I feel real confident about that. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, we wouldn’t be having this conversation if the wrestling community hadn’t accomplished that feat last season.”

Could the one-venue state wrestling tournaments become the norm in future years?

“Do you want to be together at a single site, and celebrate a community of wrestling, which I think is very popular with a lot of coaches and spectators?” OSAA assistant executive director Brad Garrett said in the OSAAtoday piece. “Or, do you want to separate those out into smaller venues, where you will be focused on more, but we can do less? In some cases, there’s an opportunity to do things that are unique, as well.”

The cheer and dance/drill state championships will also not take place this season in the coliseum. Both of those competitions were moved to Oregon City High School with cheer on Feb. 12 and dance/drill on March 18-19.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at