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March 28, 2023

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Healthy again, Ford helps Prairie capture 3A district wrestling title

Camas tops Union for 4A district crown; three Union girls win at sub-regionals

By , Columbian Sports Editor
7 Photos
Prairie's Alex Ford, right, and Mountain View's Elijah Mar wrestle in the 170-pound championship match at the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League district wrestling championships on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023 at Prairie High School.
Prairie's Alex Ford, right, and Mountain View's Elijah Mar wrestle in the 170-pound championship match at the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League district wrestling championships on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023 at Prairie High School. (Micah Rice/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Alex Ford feels 100 percent healthy again. That’s bad news for Class 3A wrestlers in the 170-pound weight class.

The Prairie senior, who won last year’s state championship at 160 pounds, missed the first part of the season after suffering a torn MCL ligament in his knee during football season.

Saturday, Ford showed he is no longer hobbled. He won all three matches by pin to claim the 170-pound title at the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League District Championships at Prairie High.

After two first-period pins, Ford clinched the title with a second-period pin of Mountain View’s Elijah Mar in the championship match.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” said Ford, who is currently ranked No. 2 in Class 3A at 170 pounds. “I’m looking forward to state. I’ve just got to get through next week.”

Ford said he first began to feel like a healthy wrestler during the Pacific Coast Championships on Dec. 30. There, he reached the final before losing to Skyview’s JJ Schoenlein, the top-ranked 170-pounder in Class 4A.

“I wasn’t able to perform my best in practice for a while,” Ford said. “It was hard to get back into the swing of things. I was pretty worried at the beginning. But after I got it feeling better doing a lot of physical therapy, I’m a lot more confident now for sure.”

Shortly after Ford nailed down his title, Prairie teammate Seth Blick earned one of the evening’s most dramatic victories. The junior trailed his 195-pound title match 4-0 before pinning Mountain View’s Rylan Reinebach with 59 seconds remaining.

Blick, who is ranked No. 8 in his weight class, now heads to next week’s regional match with the confidence of a wrestler who knows he’s never out of a match.

“It raises your confidence level going into regionals as a district champion, regardless of seeding,” Blick said. “The way it makes you feel. How you hold yourself, it makes a big difference.”

Amir Lisichenko won the 145-pound title and Mason Frei won the 160-pound crown to help Prairie win the team championship. The Falcons’ 316 points edged Kelso, which tallied 297.

The top three wrestlers in each weight class advanced to the regional tournament next Saturday in Kelso.

Six champs help Camas win 4A district title

Led by six individual champions, Camas bested rival Union to win the Class 4A district boys wrestling title Saturday at Prairie High School.

The Papermakers’ 308 points led Union’s 279 and Skyview’s 261.

Kian Anthony pinned Skyview’s Rowan Blaikie midway through the second period to give Camas a title at 113 pounds. But the Papermakers especially succeeded in the middle and heavier weights.

Beau Harlan defeated Carson Gillingham of Skyview 10-1 to claim the 152-pound title. Simon Jarrell, ranked No. 6 in the Class 4A 160-pound class statewide, then followed with a 6-1 win over Camas teammate Olajuwon Sobomehin.

Omar Shaneen gave the Papermakers a title at 182 pounds, beating Union’s Alexander Olson 12-3. Elliott Scott then pinned fellow Papermaker Nate Baker in 2:45 to win the 195-pound crown.

Cameron Hanley capped the tournament for Camas by winning the 285-pound title, pinning Skyview’s Jalen Salavea in 3:59.

The tournament’s best match came at 170 pounds. Skyview sophomore JJ Schoenlein, ranked No. 1 in the state, barely edged No. 3 Jackson Lougen 4-3.

Schoenlein scored a takedown on the Camas junior with 1:43 left to take a 2-1 lead. After Lougen tied the match with an escape seconds later, Schoenlein scored the decisive takedown with 16 seconds left to take a 4-2 lead.

The top three wrestlers in each weight class advance to next weekend’s regional tournament at Battle Ground.

Union girls earn three sub-regional titles

Niah Cassidy, Janessa O’Connell and Ahmiya Brox each won titles for Union at the District 4 sub-regional girls tournament at Prairie.

Brox pinned Kelso’s Tara Liebe 2:58 into their 190-pound championship match.

Cassidy controlled Reagan Fallon-Small of Camas 11-1 to win the 125-pound title.

O’Connell endured a tough challenge at 130 pounds, outlasting North Thurston’s Charlize Pasco 8-7 after leading 6-0.

Aaliyah Young and Faith Tarrant each won by pin to give Prairie two champions.

Young pinned Evergreen’s Kadence Burleson 1:12 into the 170-pound championship match.

Tarrant, the defending 235-pound state champion who is undefeated this season, pinned River Ridge’s Reina Walker 1:24 into their title match.