Philomath’s Chase Ringwald battles Cottage Grove’s Jayden Davis on Thursday in a Special District 2 duals meet on the home mat. Ringwald won on a 6-1 decision. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Squaring off on the home mat Thursday evening against Cascade and Cottage Grove, Philomath High wrestling coach Troy Woosley soaked up more intel on the level of competition seen among the Special District 2 squads.

The Philomath event represented the second of four dates featuring district duals — the series started last week at North Marion and will continue on Feb. 1 at Sweet Home and Feb. 9 at Junction City.

“This is about where we want to be,” Woosley said following duals against Cascade and Cottage Grove. “Each week now is our league matchup so we find out the pecking order to see where we’re at. These duals mean a lot for seeding purposes when we have that (districts) in a couple of weeks.”

The duals help Woosley and his athletes determine who will wrestle at what weight at the state-qualifying tournament on Feb. 17-18 at Cascade.

“There’s still a chance that we will move some of our kids,” Woosley said. “We’re still seeing where everyone else lands right now.”

Senior Ben Hernandez, senior Caleb Blackburn, freshman Riley Barrett, senior Chase Ringwald, junior Gradin Fairbanks and senior David Griffith won their matches against the two schools.

Senior Ben Hernandez added two more first-period pins to his record against Cascade and Cottage Grove. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Among that particular group, Ringwald and freshman Porter Compton are entangled in one of the more interesting lineup decisions to be made as the season progresses. Both have similar wrestling abilities and it’s been a week-to-week decision for the coach to determine which will score points at 138 pounds. Under the rules, both can wrestle in tournaments at the same weight but only one can contribute toward team points.

Said Ringwald after a pin and decision on Thursday, “We definitely are competing for that spot … we have wrestle-offs.”

Ringwald is no stranger to competing with teammates for the varsity spot at a particular weight, a situation that went on last season with Blake Niemann. Both placed at 126 at state a year ago — Niemann second and Ringwald fifth.

Woosley said it’s a good problem to have in the overall picture with the lineup.

“I think we’ll probably be dropping some kids down below them, so they could separate,” Woosley said. “It kind of depends on a couple of 132 and 138 pounders in their own region. They could go the same weight.”

Among other lineup decisions, moving Hernandez down to 113 (with the 2-pound allowance) remains on the table. Hernandez is having another stellar season and defeated two more opponents on Thursday at 120 on first-period pins.

Hernandez defeated his Cascade counterpart in 1:46 and quickly took care of his Cottage Grove opponent in 44 seconds. Ringwald recorded a pin in 2:56 against Cascade and a 6-1 decision against Cottage Grove. Griffith’s two wins at 170 came on pins of 1:22 and 1:11.

Said Ringwald, “I definitely like the duals because it’s like you’re fighting with your team.”

Freshman Lake Mulberry defeated Cottage Grove’s Daniel Hernandez on a 13-7 decision. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Blackburn, Barrett and Fairbanks wrestled only once with wins on forfeits included in their evenings. Against Cascade, Blackburn won on a 10-4 decision and against Cottage Grove at 126, Barrett won on a 15-0 technical fall at 138 and Fairbanks pinned his opponent in 1:48 at 152.

Philomath’s other wins all came against Cottage Grove with sophomore River Sandstrom (106), sophomore JJ Lewis (160) and Lake Mulberry (220).

In the team results, Cascade defeated Philomath, 46-33, and the Warriors followed with a 59-6 rout over Cottage Grove.

Beyond the opponents on the mat, the squad is also fighting through illness. Woosley said six athletes missed the duals on Wednesday.

“I’d rather have it again now than in three weeks,” Woosley said.

Two junior varsity wrestlers who have been out could be in the varsity picture soon in junior Jonathan Doig and sophomore Lucas Bourguois.

Ringwald hopes the team can finish strong for another effective performance at state, which is scheduled for Feb. 23-24 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

“We’re definitely doing good … we got top four last year, I believe, and I’m hoping for that or better this year,” Ringwald said.

The Warriors will head to the Tod Surmon Mid-Valley Classic at West Albany on Saturday and then compete at Sweet Home on Feb. 2 for another district duals meet.

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.