Senior Ben Hernandez won’t compete at the state wrestling tournament because of injury. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Editor's note

This story was updated from an earlier version with the OSAA's announcement that Thursday's schedule was postponed.

The Philomath High School wrestling team heads this week into the Class 4A tournament at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland with nine of its 10 qualifiers. The Warriors qualified 10 wrestlers for the event but unfortunately lost one to injury.

Coach Troy Woosley said senior Ben Hernandez withdrew from the tournament because of an injury. It’s a tough way for the Warrior standout to end his high school career on the mat but he should hold his head high for a very successful run representing PHS. According to TrackWrestling statistics, Hernandez had a 122-44 record during his four years — 100-16 over his final three seasons. He won a state title as a sophomore during the 2021 pandemic season.

Seven of Philomath’s nine wrestlers earned seeds for the tournament. Freshman Porter Compton is the highest-seeded Warrior at No. 4 in the 138-pound division. Six seeds include sophomore River Sandstrom (106), senior David Griffith (170) and senior Chase Ringwald (132). Seven seeds are freshman Riley Barrett (126) and freshman Lake Mulberry (220). And an eight seed is senior Caleb Blackburn (120). Junior Gradin Fairbanks (152) and freshman Lukas Hernandez (126) are unseeded. Ben Hernandez had been seeded No. 6 at 113.

The Oregon School Activities Association reported late Wednesday that the first day of the tournament has been postponed. The OSAA posted a statement that Veterans Memorial Coliseum was not available Thursday with the closure of the Rose Quarter Campus because of inclement weather and citywide and countywide emergencies. The OSAA planned to issue updates on the situation with the tournament schedule — click here for the latest.

Girls basketball seeded 10th

Philomath High’s girls basketball team will host St. Helens on Friday night to try to play its way into the Class 4A state playoff field. The Warriors will need to shake off a rough performance in their last outing but should be considered the favorite heading into the contest with the Lions.

Philomath comes in with a 15-7 record and No. 10 OSAA ranking compared to a 7-17 record and No. 23 ranking for St. Helens. The Warriors will have home-court advantage, of course, but funny things can happen in the postseason. The team will need to rediscover its offense moving forward to go along with Class 4A’s top scoring defense (the team allows a mere 33 points per game.

Ben Silva, who is in his fifth season as the girls basketball head coach, is just three wins away from his 100th victory. Silva’s record currently stands at 97-19 — a winning percentage of .836. In the playoffs, Silva’s teams have a 9-3 record.

Boys to play top 5A opponent

Philomath’s boys, meanwhile, earned a spot directly into the Class 4A playoff field as the No. 1 seed. The Warriors are scheduled to play their first-round game against the to-be-determined No. 16 seed on Saturday, March 4, in the PHS gym.

To try to keep on top of its game, Philomath is scheduled to travel down to North Eugene on Thursday for a contest against that exceptional 5A school. Both teams are coming off losses with the Warriors falling to Cascade and the Highlanders dropping a road game at Churchill. North Eugene is No. 8 in the OSAA’s 5A rankings. Interestingly, North Eugene has also scheduled a game for Feb. 25 at Junction City, the No. 2-ranked team in 4A and a school that Philomath has beaten twice this season.

Among the other Oregon West teams, Cascade is the No. 3 seed in the 4A playoffs. Two other league teams will compete in play-in games this week — North Marion at home against Cottage Grove and Stayton on the road against Klamath Union.

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

Brad Fuqua

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.